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  Recruiting and the Art of Candidate Control

Its critical to stay in control of the interview and the information transfer. It is incredibly easy for the situation to get turned around and for you to lose control.

Have you ever been in that situation where the candidate fires off question after question, and youve got this awful sinking feeling? You dont know the answers, or the answers you were giving arent cutting it. Youre not good enough, youre not making the cut, what you are offering isnt good enough, and the candidate is getting ready to reject you or hang up.

The best way to stay in control is remember this: the one who asks the questions is the one in control. Thats the one who controls the flow, the pace, the content, the direction of the conversation.

So, what do you do if a candidate starts asking questions?

If you answer politely, you may find that there are follow-up questions and follow-ups to thatand the questions will get increasingly difficult to answer. Before you know it, you are asked a particularly tough question, and there is that sinking feeling once again.

The typical advice is to answer, and take the reins back by asking a question, but that can be problematic. What if the candidate doesnt give you the chance?

Some wont. They are professionals and they have questions that they want to have answered, and theyre going to get to all those questions. They also are testing you. They are sparring, but you as a recruiter are at a great disadvantage. They have domain knowledge; you dont. As soon as you get into that sparring contest, prepare to lose.

Dont allow the frontal assault. Dont allow them to take control. Keep them where you need them and keep the focus on them. You are the recruiter and you are the one who asks the questions. They are the one being tested, not you. You already have a job and they are the ones who need to prove themselves to you. Sohere comes that question from the once againand here is how we handle it:

What you do is, you move off the question. Instead of answering the question, you say, Thats a great question. Id love to get into that in detail in our next conversation.

Thats it! It is really that easy. and this works in almost any situation.

But be warned: never tell the job seeker that you wont answer a question. If you do that, your conversation will rapidly degrade into a game. Cat and Mouse, higher/lower, bigger than a breadbasket, whatever. The candidate will fixate and the conversation (and candidate) are lost. Once again, the phrase is, Thats a great question. Id love to get into that in detail in our next conversation.

DaCare is the leading bi-lingual executive search firm in China. Ranked top 10 in China by People's Daily.