Nick Boulton: Why you need to meet your candidatesPosted over 4 years ago by Nick Boulton

I was chatting with a consultant about a recent spate of "bad luck" they were having with candidates. It was the usual spiel of, “I’ve been working really hard, finding awesome candidates, getting them out to the perfect job, prepping them for interview only for them to fail.”

“I just don’t understand what’s wrong with them,” they said.

Evidently, they had come to me for commiserations, empathy, encouragement or a combination of all three. But if you ask any of my three children, I’m not big on self-pity.

So, I asked them a very simple question: “When did you meet them, before or after the interview?"

“Meet my candidate?” came the quizzical reply. “I’m too busy to meet candidates, Boults.”

Busy, is it? Busy not making deals? Busy not making placements? Busy not making any money and just being a busy fool?

Technology has made passive communication between recruiters and candidates easier. But I firmly believe that there’s no replacement for meeting face to face. That’s how you build empathy, understanding and credibility – the three ingredients for getting deals done.

This might sound weird, but I’m the kind of director who questions why a consultant doesn’t turn in a lot of expense receipts for coffees and lunches at the end of every month.

I can almost feel the pushback. Top tech talent is hard to pin down and many are unwilling to meet up. But if you haven’t done anything for them yet, why should they meet you?

Here’s the cold, hard truth. You are probably the 100 th consultant to call and promise them riches beyond their wildest dreams, projects only Bill Gates would want to work on, and tech yet to be invented. Unless you actually deliver on your promises, they’re not going to give you a second of their time.

A lot of consultants make the fatal error of treating candidates like commodities - talent to be traded, profited from and then never to be spoken to again. This is the part of recruitment I hate.

This is also when you find out about those little idiosyncrasies that you had not idea about. Maybe your candidate has trouble looking people in the eye? Or speaks very quietly? Maybe they like to fidget? They’re not deal-breakers, so long as you make your client aware, it won’t come up as a surprise during the interview. But you can't do that if you don't meet them.

We are in the service industry. If you have any aspirations of a long, successful career in recruitment, you need to invest in candidates. Help, coach, mentor, advise – but most importantly, MEET THEM!

P.S. The consultant in question eventually met their candidate and has since placed them. Funny that.

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