How to Warm Up the Candidate Experience

February 19, 2014

As millions of us across the country cradle a hot mug of coffee between our hands and wonder when temperatures might begin to rise, it’s a perfect time for recruiters to consider the importance of warmth. Not in terms of our environment (although I am not kidding when I tell you the high today in upstate New York is 7 degrees Fahrenheit), but in terms of relationships with our candidates.

Beyond technical skills required for the basics of the job, it is our responsibility to understand what makes a candidate tick. What are this person’s goals? Is this conversation really about them looking for a specific role, or just an offer to use as leverage for a job they really want?

Often we work to find an efficient way to get all the necessary information out of a candidate and give them the elevator pitch as quickly as possible. But with the tech boom and increased volumes of candidates and openings piling up on recruiters, personalizing an experience is becoming a lost art.

Let’s take a collective moment to agree we are dealing with individuals - people with different backgrounds, different career goals and different motivations. Our approach should reflect that truth.

Expressing warmth to a candidate can be somewhat challenging as much of the relationship starts over the phone. Studies on interpersonal warmth have shown that the act of inclusion or making someone feel important has an impact on a person’s perception of both physical and emotional warmth. Some theories suggest that the idea of warmth is linked to the person’s recollection of a childhood caregiver. With this in mind, below are some suggestions on how to demonstrate a caregiver approach and provide a sense of warmth and inclusion for your candidate even over the phone.

1. Be proactive.

Anticipate hurdles and provide updates before being asked. Sure, sometimes this is easier said than done. But building trust by being a reliable resource makes a world of difference. Candidates respond more favorably when they realize they are your priority, especially during the decision-making process.

2. Look ‘em in the eye.

Put a face to the voice and use a webcam early on to “meet” and chat with the candidate. It seems insignificant, but your candidate seeing you nod your head in understanding or tilt your head slightly when he or she brings up a point can be very helpful in developing the relationship. It shows you’re really and truly there for them, even if it’s a reassuring smile from thousands of miles away.

3. Mind your manners.

When meeting in person, remember that your body language is an important component to how your words are interpreted. Direct your feet toward the person when you are speaking with them. When you sit down with them, do you best to arrange the seating so that you are not across the table from them. Sitting across the table actually provides a physical barrier between the two of you and may provide an unintended perception of competition instead of inclusion.

4. R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

A good level of respect for your candidate provides the type of relationship that will help you understand if the candidate will be the right person for the role. It may go without saying, but learn to listen and hear them out before you jump to an answer (even when it’s the same question you hear 17 times a day).

Good hiring managers will often seek the input of the recruiter when making a final decision. When it comes down to this discussion, it’s the warmth and relationship that you have developed with a candidate that will enable you to provide good, solid insights into the hiring decision of that individual.

* image by Justin Kern