Earlier this month, I was fortunate enough to attend a special meeting of the NW Recruiters Association focused around the topic of “closing difficult candidates” in a tight job market.  It was a fascinating discussion, especially since I was evaluating the dialogue from the other side of the fence as an advocate not of the employer, but of the individual job candidate.  And at the end of the session, I had written down a number of notes and observations that I thought might be helpful to pass along:

— Several recruiting managers commented that they look for extreme enthusiasm on behalf of the candidates they interview and want to see a “10 out of 10” in terms of the candidate’s commitment to the position being discussed and the challenges it represents.  Anything less than 100% enthusiasm doesn’t cut it.  They want to know that you see the upside of the opportunity in question, understand what makes it special, and are willing to pursue it without reservations.

— Surprisingly, a majority of the recruiters in attendance also stated that they always make their best offer first and don’t negotiate salary with candidates, which they feel both shortens the hiring process as well as confirms the point above, which is their desire to see a person say “yes” to a job based on the caliber of the opportunity, not due to financial considerations.  In reality, however, we still find that the vast majority of executive positions come down to a healthy counteroffer exchange, so we’re not convinced that most recruiters and HR personnel truly stick to their guns on this issue, as claimed.

— The recruiting panel also mentioned a few intriguing questions that they pose to candidates these days, such as “How much money are you making now and how do you feel about it?” and “Who else would be involved in your decision to come work for us?”  Each of these questions is designed to try to ferret out the candidate’s true feelings about an opportunity and to “pre-close” them in order to avoid protracted negotiations or time-wasting.   One recruiter even said that she makes a point, after a long round of interviews, to ask candidates “Is there any question that you answered today that you wish you’d answered differently?” We liked that a lot — after all, to err is human!