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Understanding Your Candidate’s Work

The first search firm I worked for didn’t think it was important to understand what our candidates did for a living. I was an IT recruiter. How would I know if the job was a good fit if I didn’t understand what the candidate actually did? It was a major point of contention between the owner and myself (I was at a ripe age of 19 and cocky as all get out.)

Even though I was years away from legally having a cocktail, and only had five minutes of recruiting experience, I knew it was important. Keep in mind, it’s 1993, I don’t have a computer on my desk, the internet isn’t publicly available, and I wasn’t called an IT recruiter – I was an agency recruiter with a focus in MIS (Management Information Systems). It was a long time ago.

I started asking my candidates at the end of an interview the following question:

“[Candidate Name], you’re obviously extremely knowledgeable when it comes to [specialty]. May I ask you a clearly self-serving question? {let them respond, they always say yes and self-serving piques their interest}

“Great. When I’m interviewing someone who claims to be an expert in [specialty], what could I ask them to be able to gauge if they know what they’re talking about or if they’re full of it?”

Once they tell you what to ask, ask them what you should be looking for in the answer.

People love to feel like an expert. They love to provide advice and direction. Let the candidate feel good and gather information to help us in the future. They feel like they’ve been helpful, you become more knowledgeable, and it deepens your relationship. It’s a win-win for everyone. 

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Tricia Tamkin, headhunter, advisor, coach, and gladiator. Tricia has spoken at over 50 recruiting events, been quoted in multiple national publications, and her name is often dropped in groups as the solution to any recruiters’ challenges. She brings over 30 years of deep recruiting experience and offers counsel in a way which is perspective changing and entertaining.

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