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The latest round of unemployment numbers are out and we’re now at full employment–4.6% nationally (see an interactive chart here).  While that’s great news, that makes life harder on recruiters who now need to source passive candidates and coach hiring managers on overlooking the typical passive candidate missteps.  Recruiters and sourcers at several major companies shared some best practices that may need to get taken off your bookshelf, dust off, and put into practice.

We’ll go into more depth during our January 11th webinar “Passive Candidates–A Gift and a Curse (Interviewing for Results)“.  Here are a few of their observations.

The Passive Candidate Trap Can be Avoided

Passive candidates require a far greater time investment to get them into the interview process.  They’re typically relatively engaged in their current company and they’re not looking to rock their personal boat.  So once you do get a sourced candidate to walk down the proverbial interview aisle, she or he represents significant effort on your part.  Then you get feedback from the hiring manager that derails your golden candidate: “Their interview was a little rough,” or, “I had a hard time getting them to give me meaningful answers.”  Sound familiar?  Some tips:

  • Warn hiring managers that Billy and Suzie, your two passive candidates, are going to interview differently.  They’re not going to be as polished and their answers may not be as concise or easy to decipher as an active candidate’s would be, and that’s absolutely OK.  Billy and Suzie likely have not had practice interviewing like active candidates have–that’s the nature of a passive candidate.  In a full employment market, if a candidate has a well-rehearsed, seamless interview, that’s a bit of a red flag.  After all, if that active candidate is such a high quality candidate, why have they not been hired yet?  Why is their interview so well practiced.
  • Remind hiring managers that it’s OK for a candidate to pause for a few seconds (a.k.a. an eternity) while they think of an answer.  Additionally, there’s value in skipping a question that stumped the candidate and rephrasing & re-asking it a question or two later.  Passive candidate will get more nervous and will stumble more easily in an interview.  The interviewer needs to dig below those superficial gaffes.

Traits You Can Build Versus Traits You Need to Buy

There’s incredible value in periodically (subtly) reminding hiring managers that there are specific traits we want to assess in an interview.  While Excel skills and familiarity with Outlook are important (no doubt there), they can be obtained during a weekend of some serious self-study.  Rather than focusing an interview on relatively easy-to-acquire technical skills, the interview should be focused on traits that you cannot make in a candidate–traits you have to buy: achievement orientation, eagerness to please, passion for the job, healthy (emphasis on healthy) confidence, etc.

Although it’s easy for a hiring manager to look for the candidate that will “hit the ground running” from a technical aspect, they will regret passing over the candidate with the somewhat less practiced technical skills but the strong desire to please and the incurable passion for the role.

We just scraped the surface.  For a deeper discussion of interviewing best practices given the current hiring market, feel free to catch our webinar.

Happy hunting!