In our previous post on how to interview candidates in just 3 minutes, I promised to share a cool trick that you can use to secure your potential placements.

Let’s replicate the scenario from the previous blog post and I’ll show you the trick. When you approach your candidates you typically would ask them if they already applied or have been contacted for the position you’re recruiting for. But there’s always this fear: “What if they just go and apply directly?!” And here’s where you would use this ace up your sleeve 🙂

Send your Client a short email with a subject line: “Working on Candidate – First Name/Last Name” BEFORE reaching out to your candidate. That’s it! From your Client’s perspective you’ll be the first one to contact this candidate and this will guarantee that you would get the reward even if your competition ends up placing them or if they get hired directly.

A side note: do this only for candidates that expressed interest in the position you’re offering. If you do this for every candidate you contact, your Client might not be happy with the amount of emails they’re getting from you on this subject. Also, make sure you warn your Client beforehand that you’re going to be using this approach, so they understand why you’re sending those types of emails.

Now, in today’s post I would like to discuss the #1 reason why your candidates are being rejected.

There are lots of factors involved in the hiring decision, such as personality type/background fit, salary requirements, seniority, location, etc.

Yet the biggest of all in my opinion is QUALITY.

If your candidate is an A player your Client would be willing to pay more, help them relocate if needed, provide flexible hours, give extra perks or whatever it takes just to have them. Of course, there are limits to everything, but smart companies tend to go an extra mile for A Players.

So how do you know if your candidate is an A Player? As I mentioned in my previous post you need to challenge them TECHNICALLY. No matter how good they claim to be on the resume or how good they are able to sell themselves on the phone, it all boils down to if they are the best problem-solver for your Client.

For that you need to give them a “problem” and ask for a solution. There are several ways of how you can do this:

  1. If you are coming from the same professional background as they are, you can ask technical questions yourself, but this is a VERY rare case.
  2. If you don’t have experience in their industry, you either need to consult with someone who does and they would give you good interview questions
  3. Or if you have the budget, you can hire a professional that would do the technical interviews for you.

The last one might be challenging if you’re recruiting across industries since you would need to hire lots of different consultants to help you out with technical questions.

Simply Googling for interview questions won’t cut it. By being a non-technical person you won’t understand which questions are good and if they are really challenging. Plus most of the interview questions online are being read by candidates themselves, so most likely they are already prepared with an answer 🙂

Let’s take for example a Java Developer position and analyze how we would interview them so that when they are presented to our Client we know for sure what they’re worth.

  1. You do a technical prescreen on the technologies that the Client requires. These could be Core Java, SQL, Hibernate, Spring, Struts, J2EE and other technologies. You need to have a good Java Developer compile a list of questions for each of the technologies that are on your Client’s requirements list. You would also need to have basic understanding of the questions you’re asking. The candidate will sense if you don’t and would try to manipulate you by providing any technical answer and reassuring you that it’s the right one. The person who would be providing you with the questions for the interview, should be able to explain them to you in simple language, that’s one of the ways how you would know if you found the right person to give you the technical questions. Later on, you can use these questions for other positions, since a lot of the times the technologies will overlap.
  2. You give them a coding assignment. Again, this has to be tailored specifically to your scope of technologies. You can’t just pull a task online. However, with the coding assignment you probably won’t be able to have even a basic understanding of how they completed it. This will require you to take development courses. If you have that desire this will be a HUGE plus for you as a recruiter since you would be able to ask all the questions yourself without having the need to hire anyone. But if you don’t want to take those courses then hiring a consultant that would check the assignment is necessary.
  3. Another workaround, if you can’t hire a technical person or if you can’t get the needed technical questions to ask, you can just reach out to your Client and ask them to share the technical questions they’re asking. You could explain that you would save their time by doing the interviews for them. Whereas they might not give you the tough coding questions, they might share the technical prescreen questions. But you would still need to study those questions to understand what you’re asking, since good coding questions are usually open ended, not multiple choice.
  4. You can also combine your questions with your Clients questions to be even more meticulous in your screening approach

By using this approach that I’ve just described in addition to what you’re already doing, you would be giving your Client a guarantee that the candidate is of the highest quality. Even though for some reason candidates might get rejected from time to time, it will never be the case that your candidate is a complete mismatch. Which is a killer for your relationships with a Client. Especially, if it’s a new Client and that was the first impression they got from you. From that point it’s very difficult to restore the trust in you and most likely your submissions will be ignored. Get it right from the start and your Client will know that you are sending only the highest quality possible, so every time you send in someone – they will open your email first.

In conclusion: Not knowing whether your candidate is an A Player is a big struggle for MANY recruiters. I can relate to this struggle myself, since in the past I had no idea whether the candidate I was submitting would be the right one for my Client. We recruiters, often times, tend to be jack of all trades learning about the technologies, skills and industries of our candidates. This whole deal becomes even more challenging when you’re recruiting across industries, e.g. IT, Healthcare, Finance. You get tons of information thrown at you and you have to discern A players from the rest. No wonder we’re struggling! Your candidates got at least 5 years of education in what they do and were hands on 8 hours per day for several years, whereas you might only know that a Java Developer can code.

In our upcoming post we’ll discuss Why Your Competition Is Placing Candidates and You’re Not!

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