Three Recruiter Communication Skills for Rapport Building
The ability to clearly communicate with candidates is the foundation on which recruiting careers are built. With today’s highly educated and highly empowered candidate, it’s paramount that recruiters possess world-class communication skills. If you thought any of the following - objection-handling skills, closing skills, or probing skills, were the key, guess again. It’s communication skills that differentiate top performers from average performers. The reason is because it's their underlying communication skills that enable them to effectively handle and overcome candidate concerns and objections. It's their communication skills that also enable top performing recruiters to ask-and receive-honest answers to sensitive probing question. It's their communication skills that enables top performers to consistently pre-close and close candidates.
In this blog post I'm going to share with you three recruiter communication skills for rapport building. These are arguable three of the most under rate and undervalued recruiter skills of them, even more so than sourcing and screening candidates!
Rapport means to get along well with another person, or group of people, by having things in common. Building rapport between two people requires active or effective listening skills. Typically, between a candidate and a recruiter, rapport building is built around something shared in common such as:
- Where you went to college
- Where you are from or grew up
- Special interests
- Local/current events
- Industry events and trends
Having rapport makes the communication process easier and more effective. People are more receptive to people like themselves. Whether that's right or wrong, it's built-into the most primitive parts of our brain. But rapport building is MUCH MORE than just discussing current events, hobbies, last nights game, where you went to school or your favorite movie or T.V. series.
Rapport building requires recruiters to have a natural sense of curiosity for learning about people, their experiences, background and how they feel to build rapport. It also requires recruiters to be humble and comfortable injecting an element of humor into the conversation or the ability to make a joke about themselves or the situation/circumstances. Humor and humility are effective ways for building rapport!
Despite these common rapport building tactics, there are three other recruiter communication skills that recruiters (and salespeople) can adopt to improve their rapport building skills. These three rapport building skills are far more powerful and effective than simply talking about current events or where someone grew up or went to college.
The Skill of Disarming (Candidates)
What does it mean to disarm your candidate? Until your candidates knows you and know that they can trust you, they will naturally be skeptical of you and what you have to say. Think about how you feel when approached by a salesperson in a retail store. How do you react? Most people are full of anxiety and naturally put their guard up and just want the salesperson to go away. Your candidates are no different. Before your candidates feel comfortable speaking with you, answering your questions, scheduling a phone interview with you or meeting with you, you will need to develop the skill of disarming.
Disarming means to relieve your candidate of anxiety, pressure or hostility, and to put them at ease and feel comfortable speaking with you. How can recruiters accomplish this, especially with a brand new candidate or even a passive candidate? Legacy recruiters have been taught to go into “pitch” mode when they engage a candidate in which they pitch their job opportunity. As a result, candidates often feel like they are stuck in a conversation that they want nothing to do with. Even worse, they have no way out! Have you ever been stuck in a bad conversation with no way out? It’s not fun!
To avoid making your candidates feel stuck in a bad conversation, you can disarm them by asking for their permission before proceeding with your objective. For example, rather than launching into a pitch about your opportunity you might say “would it be OK for me to take two minutes to explain why I’m calling? By asking a simple question like this, the candidate now feels like they have a say in the conversation because the recruiter is making them feel in control. They're giving the candidate an out which disarms them.
When you share an idea with your candidate you could say something like “may I make a suggestion?”
Again, this is another soft way of disarming your candidate by asking for their permission and giving them control of the conversation. It sounds counter-intuitive but it works like a charm! These examples may sound like small minor details but they are not. They make all the difference in the world. The skill of disarming is absolutely critical to running an effective candidate interview.For now on, whenever you engage a new candidate (or customer), make it your goal to FIRST disarm them. Recruiters who effectively disarm their candidates have far more productive conversations; they accomplish more in less time.
The Skill of Empathy
According to Wikipedia, “Empathy is the capacity to recognize emotions that are being experienced by another. Having empathy means that you are able to put yourself inside the shoes of another person and see the world through their eyes. Empathy is important not just because it shows that you understand the candidate, but more importantly because of the way it makes the candidate feel. When recruiters demonstrate empathy it makes the candidate feel understood and that is how recruiters can build rapport and establish trust.
The ability to demonstrate empathy can be a HUGE differentiator for recruiters. Why? Because most recruiters are focused on their personal, self-serving agenda and just pitching candidates jobs. Make it a point to go out of your way and make your candidates feel understood. You will be amazed in how they respond to you.
Now let’s turn our attention to the skill of prefacing. Prefacing is also another way to disarm your candidate and disarming builds rapport. Prefacing refers to the sentence or statement you make that leads into your question. Think of prefacing as the “set up statement” you make before asking your question. Your prefacing statement explains your rationale for the question you are about to ask before you ask it. Prefacing is a great way to put candidates at ease because you’re explaining to your candidate what information you need and why before you actually ask the question. By prefacing your question, your candidate sees that you don’t have an ulterior motive. This builds good will and trust with your candidate. Prefacing can also prevent objections because now the candidate knows why you’re asking certain questions and trying to obtain certain information. Here is an example: Recruiter Says: “I would like to transition our conversation to gain an understanding of your salary expectations and how they align with the budgeted salary for this role. By understanding your salary requirements I will be able to properly manage our client’s expectations and also only present you with relevant opportunities to avoid wasting your time. Would it be OK for me to ask you a few questions regarding your salary expectations?In this example the recruiter is prefacing the question of salary expectations by first sharing their rationale behind the question. They are explaining WHY they are asking the question before they ask it. Recruiters who apply the skill of prefacing tend to get open, honest and transparent feedback and answers to their questions. Recruiters who don't apply the skill of prefacing tend to receive cryptic responses that are often vague and nebulous, leaving the recruiter wondering.
There you have it, three recruiter communication skills for rapport building. To learn more about how to become a GREAT recruiter download our eBook, Executing the Candidate Interview, Five Pillars to Effective Candidate 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.