4 Ways to Engage Candidates Through Conversation

Steve Lowisz
Getting a candidate on the phone is one of the first and biggest hurdles in any job search. However, just because you’ve contacted a candidate doesn’t mean they’ll stick around for the whole hiring process.

In today’s tough labor market, recruiters need to do everything they can to keep candidates engaged – and how you hold a conversation plays a big part in that.

Here are four ways you can work to actively engage rather than disengage candidates just through the way you talk.

Listen, Listen, Listen

The best recruiters know that you need to listen more than you talk. After all, we have two ears and one mouth for a reason!

Listening to a candidate shows you really care. It gives a candidate the confidence to know that you’re not selling them on a position just for your own benefit.

Recruiters that don’t listen come across like used-car salesmen – rattling off benefits of a position without a care as to what the candidate really wants anyway. Talk about a fast way to lose candidates!

Practice Active Listening

When many people think of a good listener, they think of someone who hardly contributes to the conversation. But in reality, good listeners practice active listening – which means asking follow-up and clarifying questions.

An active listener will ask candidates to elaborate on things they don’t understand or provide further details on a topic. Great recruiters use follow up questions to build a deeper understanding of the candidate, their work, and what motivates them.

Additionally, follow up questions show a candidate you are truly interested in what they have to say.

Ask Open-Ended Questions

Have you ever felt yourself struggling to get a candidate to open up or really say much about themselves? You might have been asking too many “yes” or “no” questions.

Open-ended questions - questions that can’t be answered with a simple “yes” or “no” - require candidates to put a little more thought into their responses and reflect on the topic.

For example, you might ask a candidate - “what do you like about your current role?” instead of simply asking “do you like your current role?”

The more you can get someone to speak, the more you can understand what really makes them tick. And open-ended questions are your best bet for making that happen.

Don’t Be Afraid to Have a Sense of Humor

Don’t be afraid to poke fun at yourself or joke around with candidates. It’s important to be relatable and personable, as it makes candidates feel more comfortable around you and more prone to answer your messages down the line.

That said, humor is always a fine line, so know your boundaries. An inappropriate or offensive joke is a quick way to get ghosted by a candidate.