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How to avoid your client undoing all your good work

Whilst challenging, the “easy” part of the recruitment process is identifying and engaging with candidates and having interviewed them, their shortlisting to meet with your client. I say “easy” because as the recruiter you can control this process because you are directly managing it.

The real challenge may come when the candidate meets the client, the part of the recruitment process you cannot control. The success, or otherwise of the assignment, and with it your fee, rests with somebody else.

In my experience clients have different views about the degree to which they wish to engage with the recruiter prior to meeting the candidate. Where they wish to fully engage and seek your advice about interview techniques; great.

The problem arises where they are not receptive to your input because “I’ve been interviewing for years and don’t need any assistance now thanks”. In my experience clients who have this mindset are usually the ones who do need coaching in this area.

So, what to do?

Clearly you can’t insist that your client runs through their interview plan with you, you have to approach this in a diplomatic way. When I have been faced with this situation, I have adopted a number of different techniques to engage with my client.

  • I found that the key was to ask questions and take actions; ones that caused the client to think. Requiring that the client affords me time to brief them in person about the candidate/s they will be meeting. Not only is this good practice, it presents the opportunity to discuss their interview plan with the client – what interview plan!
  • Ask the client what questions they anticipate being asked by the candidate. It is likely that they will not have considered this which opens the door to your discussing this aspect of the interview as well as helping them prepare answers.
  • Similarly ask the client if they plan to involve a colleague in the interview process and if so, who is
    going to ask what questions? Following on from this you can also ask what the next steps, post interview will be.
  • Ask them what they thought of the interview briefing note you have prepared and sent to them? If they reply that they haven’t read it yet. this allows you to say, “let me just run through the key parts with you”. If they say they have read it, a couple of carefully phrased questions from you will quickly identify if they have in fact read it.
  • Raising with the client what post interview feedback they wish to receive from the candidate; the implication being that they will be “interviewed” by the candidate and will not want to be found wanting.
  • Explaining that every candidate is a potential customer or client, asking what impression of the organisation they want the candidate to leave with post interview and how they are going to ensure this is the case.

All the above suggestions provide the opportunity to ask the client about their interview plan, without directly doing so. Asked correctly these questions will cause your client to pause and think and allow you to start the conversation with them.

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