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Questions to engage and qualify passive talent

Jul 07, 2021

Wendy Kennah
Wendy Kennah

If you were to discover that traditional job boards are visited by active job seekers who account for only 30 per cent of the entire global workforce, would that change your recruitment strategy?

Because relying on the “If you build it, they will come” philosophy means your organization is missing out on the other 70 per cent of talented workers who, although aren’t actively searching, are open to new opportunities.   But when you approach these types of candidates, how can you ensure they’re serious about considering a potential offer?

During your interview process, engaging and swaying the passive candidate requires a different approach than the one you would use for an active job seeker.

When trying to turn a passive candidate  into an active asset, include these questions in your screening process:

Are you currently employed full-time or on a contract?

If you’re a recruiter who is recruiting for a client via your staffing agency, verifying a candidate’s current employer status will not only help uncover application motivators – (is a full time role more desirable than a contract?), but it will also ensure that you aren’t interfering with any of your client’s current workers.

Are you maximizing the use of your time in your current role, or do you feel like you’ve been treading water?  

A question like this will help uncover the candidate's level of professional happiness and growth expectations. Although he or she may not openly admit to feeling stagnant or that their skills aren't being developed, this question opens the door to focusing on the problem they're currently facing and how you can help them overcome the obstacle.

What would motivate you to make a move?

Uncovering application motivators like money, location, worker status, skill development and the use of new technologies is crucial to engaging talent. What does your organization offer that aligns with their personal and professional goals?  It's important to uncover the reasons why they may be passively looking in order to determine if the position is a good match, and if so, to sell the opportunity at hand.

If they are looking for more money or a better location, the position you are offering might be a fit for them. If the location and pay are not as relevant but they are looking to gain experience with new technologies or with a specific industry/organization, you can use this information to sell your opportunity to the candidate.

If you're currently on a contract, when does it end?

If the candidate is currently on a contract that isn't close to finishing yet, their reason for wanting to prematurely terminate the business relationship will help uncover the red flags of a bad hire. This conversation will uncover any red flags of candidates just looking for  a better deal; thus a flight risk to our clients, or perhaps there are valid issues, such as the client has changed locations.

Should you find another opportunity that you're interested in, what do you think will happen when you hand in your resignation?

This type of situational question will get the candidate to actually think about leaving their current role. It gets the candidate thinking about actually resigning. What will happen? Are they fully committed to making a change? This is also a good way to touch on the possibility of counter offers.

How much notice would you need to give your current employer?

If the answer to this question is less than the standard two weeks, it may be a red flag that the candidate isn't concerned with the possibility of potentially leaving their current employer in a lurch. Two weeks' notice is pretty standard; however, with passive candidates, they may want to give three or four weeks' notice, so they can wrap things up with their current employer and part ways on good terms. 

The passive candidate who isn't already eager to switch roles may have the upper hand in early stage conversations, and asking the right questions will aid you in determining if it's a right fit to reach the goals of your organization and the candidate. With the majority of the workforce not looking for a new job, but willing to discuss a new opportunity, proactive sourcing is essential to your recruitment strategy. 

The Voice of Talent: Return to the Office Report

Procom recently surveyed over 1,000 knowledge workers to discover how and where they prefer to work as offices re-open across North America.  

The Voice of Talent Report offers actionable insights into what workers expect in relation to mandatory vaccinations, remote work preferences, The Great Resignation, COVID-19 safety measures and more.

Access your complimentary copy to discover how to attract talent in a post pandemic world: 

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