Interviewing candidates and gauging
their fit for a culture and position is one of
the most indispensable tasks a recruiter performs.
The more a recruiter knows about a candidate,
the better equipped they are to add value to the
hiring process. That's why getting to know the
candidate and understand what they are looking
for, along with overall qualifications, is so
But there is more about candidates you should
uncover if you want to do the best possible job
of providing information to hiring managers. Below
are ten points in key areas that all recruiters
should investigate for each candidate they interview
- before they present the candidate to the hiring
1. Complete compensation details. Understand
exactly how the candidate's current compensation
program is structured. This means more than the
candidate's base salary; the base salary is just
part of the overall package. Be sure that you
ask about bonuses; if, how and when they are paid
out, stock options or grants that have been awarded.
Compile a complete list of benefits and how they
are structured and know when the candidate is
up for his or her next review, because this can
alter cash compensation.
2. Type of commute. Commute is a quality-of-life
issue and discussing it is important. A ten-minute
commute against traffic is very different than
taking the car to a train and having to walk five
blocks to the new organization. If the commute
to your organization is worse for the candidate
than it is in his or her existing job, bring it
up and see how the candidate responds. If the
commute is better, use it as a selling point.
By all means, be sure that you understand the
candidate's current commute and how they feel
about the new one.
3. The "what they want vs. what
they have" differential. Most candidates
do not change jobs just for the sake of changing
jobs. They change jobs because there are certain
things missing in their current position that
they believe can be satisfied by the position
your organization is offering. This disparity
is called the "position differential"
and it is the fundamental reason a person changes
jobs. Know what this position differential is
and you will be able to know if you have what
the candidate is looking for. If so, you will
be able to develop an intelligent capture strategy
when it comes time to close.
4. How they work best. Some candidates
work best if left alone, while others work best
as part of a team. It is your job to know enough
about the organization's philosophy and the way
the hiring manager works to see if the candidate
will either mesh or grind. Beware of recommending
hiring a candidate who does not fit into the current
scheme, because, at times, style can be just as
important as substance.
5. Overall strengths and weaknesses. Be
sure to get some understanding of the candidate's
strong points and the candidate's limitations.
All of us have strengths and weaknesses. Our role
is to identify them and be able to present them
to the hiring manager.
6. What they want in a new position. Everyone
wants something. Find out what the candidate wants
in a new position. Be sure to do whatever is necessary
to get this information. Feel free to pick away
during the interviewing process with open-ended
questions until you have all of your questions
answered. It is difficult to determine whether
a given hiring situation has a good chance of
working out if you do not know what the candidate
is looking for in a new position.
7. Is the candidate interviewing elsewhere?
This is big; I don't like surprises and neither
do hiring managers. I always ask the candidate
what else they have for activity. If the candidate
has three other companies they are considering
and two offers are arriving in the mail tomorrow,
this is absolute need-to-know information. If
the hiring manager wants to make an offer, it's
time to advise them as to what the competition
looks like and move this deal onto the express
8. What it will take to close the deal.
This is a first cousin of #6 above but it is more
specific and flavored with a "closing the
deal" mentality. #6 relates to what the candidate
wants in a new position, but this one quantifies
that want. For example, if the candidate wants
more money, this is where you will assess how
much it will take to close the deal. As another
example, while #6 will let you know that the candidate
wants to work on different types of projects,
this one will tell you exactly what types of projects
9. Can the candidate do the job? Even
though, as the recruiter, you might not be able
to determine if this is the perfect candidate,
you should exit the interview with an opinion
as to whether or not the candidate can perform
the functions of the position. Furthermore, that
opinion must be based upon information that was
unveiled during the interviewing process and not
just a gut feeling. It has to be based upon what
the candidate has successfully accomplished and
how that aligns with the needs of the current
position. If you can't offer a solid opinion on
this one, you need to dig deeper until you have
a solid case for why the candidate can or cannot
do the job.
10. Will the candidate fit into the culture?
Predicting the future is tricky business, but
someone has to take a shot at evaluating a candidate's
chance for success. Not everyone that is capable
of doing the job will have a successful run at
the company, because culture does play a role
in candidate success. For example, the culture
of a buttoned-down insurance company in Boston
is very different than the garage culture of a
software startup in the valley. If you have a
reason to believe that the person is the wrong
DNA for an organization, it is imperative that
you raise the issue.
There are few things hiring managers value more
than solid candidate feedback based upon a well-executed
interview. Convey this information to the hiring
manager and take one more step towards becoming
a world-class recruiter.