Candidate Mindset is an Important Recruiting Resource

By Veronica Scrimshaw

Today’s post is courtesy of guest blogger Cameron Gausby, owner of KNG Technical Inc., a boutique recruitment firm specializing in the areas of research and development for biotechnology, engineering, and other specialized areas in high tech manufacturing. Cameron is currently a member of the NPA Board of Directors.

Over the years, candidates have asked me how they can better perform in their interviews and what I can advise that will give them an edge. I like to think I provide good coaching on the standards of how to handle the salary question, best present their strengths, weaknesses, motivation to move, etc. I consider interview preparation and coaching a valuable recruiting resource that helps close more deals.

Last year, however, a candidate who is a former professional athlete asked me what his mindset should be prior and during the interview. I had never been asked this before, but given his background in competitive sports, it was clear he knew that mindset was equally as important to his overall interview performance as how he answered specific questions. I hadn’t previously considered how the candidate’s mindset could also be a valuable recruiting resource.

After thinking about the idea of the candidate’s mindset, and the more I thought about the job description he was interviewing for, the more I understood my client’s problem (job description). Job descriptions are opportunities yes, but they are also transparent problems that need to be solved. The candidates being interviewed are potential solutions for that problem. But how many actually go in to the interview with the mindset, “I’m the solution to your problem and here is why.” No one understands the problem better than the hiring manager who put that problem to paper (right?), so it stands to reason the hiring manager should recognize the solution the moment it presents itself.

So in order for your candidates to have an edge on the competition, they need to demonstrate – better than their competition – that they are, without a doubt, “the solution.” Sounds easy enough until you ask yourself, the hiring manager, and the candidates what they deem to be the most important criteria for the job. I have found that nine times out of ten they are not aligned. If you, the candidate, and the hiring manager don’t understand what the problem is (in order of importance) there will be doubts about whether your candidate is the solution.

To eliminate this doubt and give your candidate a legitimate edge you need to:

  • Understand what the most important aspect of the problem is with all parties (job description),
  • Know for certain your candidate is the solution for that problem, and
  • Have relevant examples to back up their answers in the interview to prove it.

In this case, the problem (job description) was 1.5 pages long, yet for him to really be successful he needed just 3 critical skills. We have found this seems to be the case no matter what the industry or length of the job description. In this case, he was the only non-degreed candidate which made him the underdog on paper. Since he truly understood the problem and presented himself as the solution to the key areas, his focus and relevant examples came across far better than those who were presenting themselves based on their personal strengths and accomplishments.

It’s also important to note that because some hiring managers spend less than 5% of their time annually conducting interviews, they may not know what kinds of questions will really dig into whether a candidate is the solution. By practicing this exercise, the candidate will be better positioned to ask questions that will spark further dialogue about how he/she can solve the problem. Once the candidate and hiring manager are engaged in a problem-solving discussion, the candidate is in a position to help his/her own cause, and ultimately yours as well.

Knowing you’re the solution is one thing. Knowing exactly why you are the solution and presenting yourself accordingly is the mindset your candidates should have prior to and during the interview. Mindset coaching is a recruiting resource that will give your candidates a legitimate edge.



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