9 Areas For Recruiters to Exercise Natural Sense of Curiosity Gain Advantage Blog Feature
Dan Fisher

By: Dan Fisher on February 25th, 2020

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9 Areas For Recruiters to Exercise Natural Sense of Curiosity Gain Advantage

IT Recruitment

In my prior blog post, How to Read, Understand a Client Job Description, I discussed the importance of recruiters possessing a natural sense of curiosity. Having a natural sense of curiosity means having an active mind. You’re not satisfied until you learn all you can about your subject matter and have the supporting data to start doubling down on what works (and in our case, what matters most to the candidate and hiring manager).  As children, we’re naturally curious because it is how we learn.  But as we grow up we start to loose that sense of curiosity.

"The average six- to 18-year-old asks only one question per one-hour class per month. Contrast that with the average teacher, who peppers kids with 291 questions a day and waits an average of one second for a reply. Regaining our sense of curiosity is important to our success because we’ve moved out of the industrial era and into the information era. Curiosity is a fundamental piece of that work and a powerful tool,” says Kathy Taberner, cofounder of the Institute of Curiosity, a leadership coaching team that focuses on curiosity.

Curiosity is important in recruiting because it enables recruiters to make sense of complex information. As a recruiter, just stop and think about all of the information you have to capture in order to properly execute the candidate 9 Areas For Recruiters to Exercise Natural Sense of Curiosity, Gain Advantage,interview and screen and qualify candidates. Curiosity enables recruiters to quickly connect with and develop rapport with their candidates which builds trust. Ultimately, having a natural sense of curiosity is important because it gives recruiters an unfair competitive advantage.

In this blog post, 9 Areas For Recruiters to Exercise Natural Sense of Curiosity, Gain Advantage, I'm going to share how recruiters can quickly and easily gain an unfair competitive advantage over their competitors by simply asking more questions of hiring managers resulting in improved submittal to interview and interview to offer ratios.

How Recruiters Can Create an Unfair Competitive Advantage
I think we would all agree that if five competing recruiters work on filling the same job order in which each recruiter is working from the exact same job description, the competitive playing field is even. Let’s assume that one of those five recruiters has a really high curiosity quotient and the other four have a very low sense of curiosity. What happens if the one recruiter with the high curiosity quotient asks the hiring manager three, four, or even five additional questions that the other four competing recruiters don’t ask? Is it reasonable to think and expect that the recruiter who asks the additional questions would now have a slightly different job specification to work from than their competitors? Is it reasonable to assume that the recruiter with the high curiosity quotient may now have a deeper understanding and greater clarity of the role and what the hiring manager needs and wants compared to the other, competing recruiters? Is it fair to assume that this recruiter has potentially created an unfair competitive advantage for him or herself? I believe it is.

Engineers live by the saying "to build a better product, you need to write a better product spec."  If you're recruiter you should be thinking and believing, "to deliver a better candidate, I need to build a better job description." Building a better job description and delivering better candidates begins by exercising your natural sense of curiosity by asking lots of questions. The good news is recruiters can easily be trained to follow a repeatable methodology and use messaging playbooks for knowing which questions to ask and when. Below is a sampling.

9 Areas To Exercise Your Natural Sense of Curiosity and Create an Unfair Competitive Advantage

Here we explore 9 areas (key data points) that are not typically included in a standard job description but vital to understanding and key to any successful candidate search.  Recruiters should always be exercising their natural sense of curiosity to capture the following information for every client job order. 

Company Overview
A company overview provides a high level overview describing what a company does. At a minimum, recruiters need to understand the core products and services the company provides, who their customers are that consume those products and services and who their competitors are. Recruiters must also possess a general understanding of the company size including number of employees, number of customers and annual revenue and locations. Recruiters should also understand the industry in which the company operates including industry trends. Finally, recruiters must also understand the department and/or project in which the candidate will be a part of. Specifically, recruiters should understand the size of the department or project team and how the department or project fits in, and supports the overall strategic direction of the company. 

Why Understanding the Company Overview is Important: For most recruiters, when it comes time to sharing the client company overview with a candidate, they typically rely on sending the candidate a link to the company website. While the link is helpful and recruiters should share this link, this alone is nowhere near good enough. It is critically important that you can explain in your own words who the client company is and what it is they do including the other key components that make up a company overview. Being able to describe the company in your own words is important because candidates are evaluating you and judging you and your credibility based off of how well you know and understand your customer. If you can’t provide an in depth overview of the employer your represent, why should you expect your candidate to take an interest?

Second, today’s modern job seeker wants to know how their work will contribute to the overall success of the company. They want to know how their work fits into the big picture. Without this knowledge and understanding, you can’t give candidates the information they need to make an intelligent decision. Not only that, to differentiate yourself from other recruiters and other opportunities, you need to be able to sell the company as a whole, not just the job description.

Finally, and most importantly, any candidate who has experience working with a recruiter knows that a recruiter is only as good as the relationship they have with the employer. Smart, savvy candidates can detect which recruiters truly understand their customers and have a relationship with the employer vs. recruiters who simply have the job description but lack a relationship with the employer. Smart, savvy candidates including highly sought after talent will not work with a recruiter if they don’t believe the recruiter truly understands the employer. Remember, today’s empowered candidate has many options to consider. If you want them to consider you, you have to be able to sell the employer your represent.

Exercise Your Natural Sense of Curiosity, Questions to be Asked by the Recruiter

  1. How many full time employees does the company employ?
  2. What is the annual revenue?
  3. What is their growth rate?
  4. What are the top selling products?
  5. What are the top selling services?
  6. Who are their top 3-5 customers?
  7. Who are their top 3 competitors?
  8. Where is the company headquartered?
  9. How many other locations are there and in what cities/countries?

Project Overview
In general, most temporary or contract work is project oriented. If you place accountants then project work may revolve around tax season or a tax audit. If you place engineers than the project work might revolve around designing and delivering a new product. When conducting a search for a temporary employee or contract employee and even full time employees, you will want to gain an understanding of the project overview. Understanding the project overview includes understanding the following elements:

Project Description. The project description is a written declaration of the project including the idea and context that explains the goals and objectives to be reached, the business need, and problem or problems to be resolved. The project description describes what is being built, designed, deployed, activated, deactivated, migrated, reconciled, organized, engineered or re-engineered and why. The project description should also include potential pitfalls and challenges, approaches and execution methods, resource estimates, people and organizations involved, and other relevant information that explains the need for the project and aims to describe the amount of work planned for implementation.  Job descriptions don’t normally include a project description.
Exercise Your Natural Sense of Curiosity, Questions to be Asked by the Recruiter 
What questions can you ask of your hiring managers regarding their project description to exercise your natural sense of curiosity and gain an unfair competitive advantage?

Project Scope: Project scope refers to understanding and documenting the specific project deliverables, features, functions, tasks, and deadlines, and required staff or team members and costs. In other words, it is what needs to be achieved and the work that must be completed to deliver the project goals. It is important to pin down the scope early in a project’s life cycle as it can greatly impact the schedule or cost (or both) of the project down the track. Job descriptions don’t normally include project scope.

Exercise Your Natural Sense of Curiosity, Questions to be Asked by the Recruiter 
What questions can you ask of your hiring manager regarding their project scope to exercise your natural sense of curiosity and gain an unfair competitive advantage?

Scope of Effort: When estimating and executing a project, it is important to not only understand the scope of the project but also the scope of effort. Scope of effort refers to the number of people working on and contributing to the goals of the project and the number of man days, man hours, or man weeks it will take to complete. Scope of effort also includes estimating and documenting the number of days the project will take to complete and key milestones or project deliverables to hit along the way. Job descriptions don’t normally include the scope of effort.

Exercise Your Natural Sense of Curiosity, Questions to be Asked by the Recruiter 
What questions can you ask of your hiring manager regarding their scope of effort to exercise your natural sense of curiosity and gain an unfair competitive advantage?

Business Drivers: A business driver is a resource, process or condition that is vital for the continued success and growth of a business. For example, it is vital for any staffing company to implement and run an ATS or Applicant Tracking System because it runs and manages the business including the candidate recruiting and hiring process as well as clients and the sales process. Not only that, it can produce a sales revenue forecast. An ATS automates the recruiting, interviewing and hiring process. An ATS automates the sales process. Business drivers answer the question of, why is the company investing the time, money and resources in this project?  Job descriptions don’t normally explain the business drivers behind a project.

Exercise Your Natural Sense of Curiosity, Questions to be Asked by the Recruiter 
What questions can you ask of your hiring manager regarding their business drivers to exercise your natural sense of curiosity and gain an unfair competitive advantage?

Project Goals: Depending on the type of candidates you place and the scope of work they perform, project goals will very. Examples of project goals might include improved efficiency, new and improved business processes, improved decision making, ability to close the (financial) books quicker each month or quarter, improved sales forecasting, and many others. Ultimately, every project goal will tie back to helping a company reduce costs, improve efficiency and/or increase revenue. Just keep in mind that there are many different ways an organization can accomplish that. For example, if you’re not an accountant and don’t work in finance then it may not seem obvious to you how or why re engineering the order-to-cash business process will save the company money. Job descriptions don’t normally explain project goals.

Exercise Your Natural Sense of Curiosity, Questions to be Asked by the Recruiter
What questions can you ask of your hiring manager regarding their project goals to exercise your natural sense of curiosity and gain an unfair competitive advantage?

Why Understanding the Project Overview is Important
There are many reasons why uncovering and understanding the project overview is important and why recruiters must be able to communicate this information to candidates including:

  1. This is the true information-the real information-today’s modern and empowered candidate truly cares about. This is what they really want to know about your opportunity. Today’s highly sought-after candidates won’t give you the time of day if you can't articulate this information.
  2. This is how you will differentiate yourself and your opportunity from other recruiters and their opportunities. Most recruiters don’t get this information. So the way you differentiate yourself is by exercising your natural sense of curiosity, by asking questions.
  3. Capturing these data points is empowering. This information will empower you to ask more effective candidate screening questions and run more effective candidate interviews which in turn will increase your submittal to interview and interview offer ratios.

Understanding the Biggest Challenge the Candidate is Expected to Solve
One of the biggest and most common mistakes recruiters make when tasked with a new candidate search is they focus their search criteria and candidate screening questions almost exclusively on the day to day responsibilities and required skills highlighted in the job description. While those are important, I suggest you focus your questions on understanding the biggest and most important challenge the candidate will be expected to solve in the position. Having a clear understanding of the specific challenges the hiring manager needs and expects the candidate to solve will change your whole approach and perspective to how you think about sourcing and screening candidates.

Keep in mind that the creation of every job by every employer-whether it be a full time job or a contract or temporary job-begins with the employer recognizing they have business issue or a business challenge they need resolved. Employers don’t add additional headcount to their payroll simply because they need an extra set of hands or because they need to acquire new employees with a unique set of skills. They add new hires to help them solve business problems so they can achieve their business goals. Be curious, ask questions to understand what specific challenges the hiring managers needs the candidate to resolve.

Why Understanding the Biggest Challenge Candidate is Expected to Solve is Important

Without understanding the challenges your candidate is expected to solve in the position, you will have no basis for conducting a contextual interview. You will be stuck asking poor and ineffective screening questions. Typically, closed-ended questions that begin with and sound like “have you” “are you” “can you” “did you.” These questions are ineffective. Even worse, you will be forced to make assumptions and simply match buzzwords on the resume with buzzwords on the job description resulting in low candidate submittal to interview ratios.

When you exercise your natural sense of curiosity by asking the hiring manager questions to understand the challenges and problems your candidates are expected to resolve you can execute a far more effective candidate interview resulting in higher interview to offer ratio.

Exercise Your Natural Sense of Curiosity, Questions to be Asked by the Recruiter
What questions can you ask of your hiring manager regarding their biggest challenge they need and expect the candidate to solve to gain an unfair competitive advantage?

Understanding the Work Artifacts the Candidate is Expected to Produce
In general, employees produce tangible and intangible “things” for others to consume. We refer to those things as work artifacts. Work artifacts are typically consumed by other employees, as well as customers, partners, and vendors and in the world of technology, software and hardware. For example, in the software industry an engineer or a business analysts might create a use case, class diagrams, functional or technical specification documents, test cases or wire frames. Those are all examples of work artifacts that are consumed by other people. A piece of software code or certain functionality within a software application designed by an engineer however would be intangible and consumed by physical hardware such as a server. In the finance industry a controller might produce a balance sheet, a P&L statement or an aging report. Those are all work artifacts.

Why Understanding Work Artifacts the Candidate is Expected to Produce is Important: Without understanding the specific work artifacts your candidate is expected to produce, you will have no basis for conducting a contextual interview. When you understand the specific work artifacts your candidate is expected to produce you can engage in a more meaningful and productive candidate interview. Specifically, you can ask your candidates when, where and how in their work history they’ve produced the work artifacts that they are expected to produce in the role under consideration.

By spending a little more time focused on understanding the work artifacts your candidate is expected to produce, you will have far greater success.

Exercise Your Natural Sense of Curiosity, Questions to be Asked by the Recruiter
What questions can you ask of your hiring manager regarding the work artifacts they need and expect the candidate to produce to gain an unfair competitive advantage?

One thing is for certain, being curious has tremendous benefits and upside for recruiters and improving recruiting performance. And clearly there are plenty of areas for recruiters to exercise their natural sense of curiosity.  By focusing on developing and cultivating your curiosity quotient you can take your career to the next level.

To learn more about how to become a GREAT recruiter download our eBook, Executing the Candidate Interview, Five Pillars to Effective Candidate Qualification.

Executing Candidate Interviews for Effective Qualification

 

About Dan Fisher

I’m Dan Fisher, founder of Menemsha Group. Over 400 IT staffing firms including thousands of sales reps and recruiters apply my sales methodology including my scripts, playbooks, job aids, tools and templates, all of which is consumed from our SaaS based sales enablement platform and our mobile application. I’ve coached and mentored hundreds of sales leaders, business owners and CEO’s, and I have spoken at a variety of industry events including Staffing World, Bullhorn Engage, TechServe Alliance, Bullhorn Live, Massachusetts Staffing Association, and National Association of Personnel Services. Since 2008 I've helped IT staffing organizations quickly ramp up new hires, slash the time it takes to get new reps to open new accounts and meet quota, get more high-quality meetings with key decision makers and help leaders build a scalable sales organization. My training and coaching programs are engaging and highly interactive and are known to challenge sellers to rethink how they approach selling. Ultimately, I help sellers increase productivity, accelerate the buying process & win more deals.

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