Recruiting

Don’t Scare That Candidate Away! Tips for a Smooth First Contact

So you found the perfect candidate—on paper. Time to reach out, but that’s not as straightforward as it seems. Making the wrong move might cost you more than a filled position—it might even hurt your reputation. Let’s take a look at what you can do to make sure you can seal the deal when you go to make the call.


Your technique may vary, but you should have a basic process to follow when getting ready to call your candidate. First, prepare what you need to make the call. Next, rehearse what you have prepared so it sounds natural when you say it. Now you are ready to make the call. Regardless of what happens when you call, don’t forget the crucial step that many ignore—following up.

A Matter of Perspective

When you pore over résumé after résumé, especially at a recruiting company, the candidates can seem like just a bunch of files or a set of numbers. But remember, on the other end are living, breathing people who have no idea you exist. Furthermore, if they are searching for jobs, it’s possible that more than a few less-reputable companies have tried to take advantage of them already. They could be on guard. They could be suspicious. Or they could be a delight. The point is, you won’t know until you call—and putting the wrong foot forward could cost you a perfectly good employee. Perspective counts. Taking a moment to remember that really helps.

Prepare and Prevail!

Again and again, experts underline the absolute need for preparation before you make a call. Calling without preparation makes you sound unsure and might cause a potential candidate to leave the recruitment process before you have a chance to assess his or her potential or attract him or her to your organization.
Here are some good ways to make sure you’ll be ready for whatever happens when you call your candidate. A little bit of homework can make all the difference.

  1. Know what you are going to ask.  Even spending a short time jotting down some general questions you want to ask is better than no preparation at all.  If you have the time, a complete list of questions works best.
  2. Summarize who you are and what you want with a few sentences and have it on hand.  This way, if someone other than the candidate picks up, or, more likely, the call goes to voice mail, you’ll have a quick, to the point response ready to go.
  3. Construct a fairly detailed list of everything you know about the candidate.  This serves two purposes.  First, you can tailor your conversation around those points.  Second, simply confirming these points with the candidate is a decent way to organize an interview.

Rehearse First

You’ve done your preparation. So you are ready to pick up the phone right away, right? Well, if you want to sound natural and unlike a telemarketer, you might want to just take a few moments to read what you wrote down. A few quick things to consider at this point:

  • Take a moment to make absolutely certain you can pronounce the candidate’s name.  It’s amazing how well a call can go when the candidate’s name smoothly rolls off your tongue.  It’s equally amazing how defensive candidates can become if you botch their name.
  • Be ready to go off topic.  While you may have an agenda for the conversation, sometimes you can learn a lot about a candidate based on how they direct the conversation.  Don’t become annoyed if they wander; instead, take notes. However, try to stick to business and the job at hand; casual conversation can lead to finding out things you don’t want to know, for example, race, religion, or disability.

Okay! You are finally ready to make the call.