“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.”Dilbert creator Scott Adams

Dear Recruiter,

You’ve spent years in therapy attempting to identify yourself, yet you think you can know me in 30 minutes? That my entire being, my soul, passions, knowledge, abilities, and creativity, can be assessed by you and your stone-faced, unpassionate behavioral questions – because you’ve been given the working title of “Recruiter?”

The dystopian Myers-Briggs test questions that I have to answer are pedantic questions from you, and standard answers cannot just be explained. Life, like work, is not always black and white. There are many shades of gray in the world, and having the audacity to believe you can determine my entire work ethic and personality in 30 minutes is both arrogant and cynical at the very least.  

But are you truly prepared to interview and assess a person’s abilities in 30 minutes? What form of training have you received in your past that would help you ascertain all of this information? Where is it that I may obtain such a fantastic education? Nowhere you say? It seems all I have is questions — and you have no answers.”

Gathering information, but not interviewing

Now, this is not an actual letter from a candidate, but it would be a pretty boilerplate response that they could send out to hiring managers or recruiters had they known about the fraud that had been capitulated towards them.

I have to admit that after 20 years of interviewing candidates, both on the phone and in person, I have gotten pretty good at figuring out the posers of the world, but that is experience, nothing more.

I’ve also trained young recruiters and shown them what to look for, especially the traps. Yet, I’m actually just getting information from the candidate and not really interviewing them.

That is what the hiring manager does — not us.

Seriously, I have done this a long time, and still to this day I send candidates that I’m on the fence with, along with a write-up, to the manager. The best learning tool you have out there, when working on roles that you may not know that much about, or a new role you have not worked on before, is feedback from the hiring manager.

GEM Recruiting AI

You just need to get the hiring manager to explain the “why” as in, “why” the candidate was not right for the role. You can carry that with you on to the next search, or when looking at roles that are similar, especially since many of us work within the swim lanes of similar roles.

Can you win the trust of the hiring manager?

This does not mean that I don’t fight for candidates. I have had plenty of times in my career where I’ve taken on managers who were wavering, or were “on the fence” if you will, in an attempt to get my candidate the gig. Sometimes I was successful, and sometimes not, but you need to learn when to push hard and when to just give up and move on to the back-up candidate, if you have one.

There is not a perfect candidate out there. No one is perfect, we are all flawed, so knowing this and carrying the knowledge with you puts you ahead of the curve of a number of recruiters out there. Now, you are winning.

The best part of winning is winning over the hiring manager though the trust factor, really. It’s when they know that you know your stuff, and there is gained trust.

In fact, I have had managers learn that if you listen to me as a partner that they will hire more effectively because they really listened to you. I have managers, even now, that say, “Yeah, let’s bring them in for an interview.” It’s a pretty cool feeling when they really listen, and you get a real sense of satisfaction.

I have managers that have gone to my Directors after a few months and have said, “Yeah, so Derek was a really good decision for us.” That right there is a pretty cool feeling when your hiring manager tells you something like that over lunch. Believe me, I don’t like adulation, but seriously, that really lights you up and makes you smile inside.

Make choices that help you to be successful

Time kills deals” is one of my favorite things to say when trying to get a hiring manager to get back to me with a candidate. Sometimes, it looks like time could kill a hire before you even get the chance to interview a candidate that could have been the one you really wanted, it kills it all because of personal arrogance.

You might want to take more chances to learn, listen, and make sure that you are not making choices that could stop you from being successful.

Derek Zeller

Derek Zeller draws from over 20 years in the recruiting industry, and he currently is the Director of Recruiting Solutions and Channels with Engage Talent. The last 16 years he has been involved with federal government recruiting specializing within the cleared IT space under OFCCP compliancy. He has experience with both third party agency and in-house recruiting for multiple disciplines. Using out-of-the-box tactics and strategies to identify and engage talent, he has had significant experience in building referral and social media programs, the implementation of Applicant Tracking Systems, technology evaluation, and the development of sourcing, employment branding, and military and college recruiting strategies. Derek currently lives in the Portland, Oregon area. Follow Derek on Twitter @Derdiver or connect with him on LinkedIn.