Reduce Interview Risk With This Checklist for Clients and Candidates

Note: This is the second part of a three part series on search management. In part one, Joe Ankus detailed the questions you need answered by clients and candidates before you begin a search or begin working with a candidate. Part three will post on Sept. 3.

For those of us who wished they could rewind parts of the search process to have another chance for a “do over,” this article will help to identify some of the key areas of risk common to all searches. The areas of risk we discuss arise without regard to desk specialty and are common issues. By identifying some of these areas before and during your search you improve the odds of having a more positive experience and a higher close ratio overall.

The key is to be proactive, not reactive during the entire search process. My specialty is the permanent placement of attorneys, but I have trained scores of recruiters in the risk management process across a wide variety of industries.

In this column, I review first interview risk reduction.

First Interview Risk Assessment – Client

After you have submitted a properly evaluated candidate to a properly evaluated client for a properly evaluated search (emphasis on “properly evaluated!), you should make sure the following “risk” items are addressed to your satisfaction:

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  • For “happy” and “passive” candidates, has your client been told not to ask, “Why are you looking for a new position?” The client must be told that the candidate was actively recruited to avoid an embarrassing silence during the interview if the question is asked. (80% of recruiters do not do this.)
  • Did you prepare your client for life’s little interruptions after an interview is set? Make sure that they have the candidate’s cell phone number and the candidate has the client’s cell phone number, if appropriate. Traffic is the number one enemy of late interviews and creates avoidable panic. (35% of recruiters do not do this.)
  • Did you remind your client, in writing, why your candidate satisfies the search criteria to create pre-receptivity? (50% of recruiters do not do this.)
  • Did you get the slate of interviewers early enough to share with your candidate so they can better prepare? (20% of recruiters do not do this.)
  • Did get your client genuinely excited about your candidate to create enthusiasm before they meet in person? (85% of recruiters do not do this.)
  • Did you make sure, after setting the first interview, to find out what, if any candidates are in the pipeline (from any source) and what stage they are in, to know where you stand vis a vis the overall search? (50% of recruiters do not do this,)

First Interview Risk Assessment – Candidate

  • Did you give your candidate the address of your client and ensure they know how to pronounce both the client’s name and that of everyone with whom they are schedule to meet? (Butchering a name is the highest form of awkwardness.) (75% of recruiters do not do this.)
  • Does your candidate know whom to ask for when they arrive? (35% of the time they are not told this by the recruiter.)
  • Does your candidate have extra copies of their resume? (30% of the time they do not.)
  • Does your candidate know to put their phone on silent or vibrate before meeting the client? (50% do not remember to do this.)
  • Does your candidate know that clients actually do look at a candidate’s shoes and clothes to see if they are polished, clean and in good condition? (75% of employers do this.)
  • Does your candidate understand, from you, why their background dovetails with what the client needs? Have you reviewed the position description in detail with the candidate to minimize miscommunication during the interview? (45% of recruiters do not do this.)
  • Does your candidate have at least five relevant and well researched questions to ask the client that reflect both knowledge of the position requirements and the client’s organization itself? (70% of recruiters do not go beyond “stock” questions which are useless and contrived.)

Notice that all these questions MUST be asked and satisfactorily answered before your candidate meets your client. Since most of our work is done on a contingency basis, you want to eliminate as many of most common risk factors as early as possible. As I am fond of saying,”surprises are only good for parties, not for recruiting,” and after you review the lists above, you may well add your own risk item.

In recruiting, the lists of things “to do” to manage risk should always be growing based on your own successes and the challenges you encountered. The statistics cited above were derived from hundreds of discussions the author has had with recruiters across the nation over two decades. They are meant to serve as a guide to highlight the areas that require the most risk assessment up front. Keep a note pad by your desk and write them down as you experience them. Trust me; it will yield dividends for the future.

This article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. All legal questions should be answered by a licensed attorney of your own choosing.  

Joseph E. Ankus is one of Florida's leading legal recruiters with over 13 years of experience in associate and partner placement. Based in Fort Lauderdale, Joe recruits attorneys primarily in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach. In addition to being a licensed Florida attorney, Joe also offers recruitment training to recruiting firms, law firms and corporations. To learn more about his background and recruiting seminars, visit his website,  email him, or call Joe at 954.349.4428.

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