Intelligent Interview Design: Impulse (Part 1)

When I started recruiting years ago one of my mentors told me a recruiting secret- that I needed to learn how to discover and use candidate impulse to help my clients succeed.

Momentum + Emotion = Impulse

Impulse is really the collection of things that connect your candidate(s) to your opportunity and keeps her interested and engaged in your hiring process. The thing that makes impulse different than momentum is that impulse involves emotion and engagement by both parties, especially the candidate (and if the candidate senses you are no longer engaged, she won’t be either). Impulse is a two-way street with no blind spots- while engagement has obvious indicators, impulse has a feel to it- you know when it’s there and you know when it’s gone too.

Where Does Impulse Start?

Impulse starts with the first contact, usually the initial recruit call or email reach out. Of course, the vast majority of recruiters fail at this point and impulse never starts because the recruiter fails to grasp one critically important thing….it’s all about the candidate.

Most recruiters believe that the first call is about “selling” the candidate on the job and never bother to ask what matters to the candidate. What needs to be discovered is not the background or compensation (though they are critically important) but the components required to transform the thought of making a job change into the reality of actually changing jobs (and determining can we provide this person a better situation than she currently has today?).

Keys to Discovering (and Building) Impulse.

Again, it’s not about you, it’s about them!

Uncovering the impulse components is about learning what matters to your candidate; understanding why she would make a change then comparing those things against her status quo to determine can you make her career situation better or is it already pretty good. To be clear, the vast majority of recruiters 1) don’t understand this critically important part of the recruiting process and 2) can’t engage a candidate at the level required to acquire this information. Most recruiters simply throw bullet points at candidates about the opportunity, the company, or the management team and then pray they have said just the right thing in just the right way on the right day to get the person interested enough to learn more. That conversation is an impulse killer. Make no mistake you might have the candidate’s short term interest but you won’t be able to create a longer term connection and will decrease the odds of a successful outcome.

The impulse discovery conversation is always about the candidate. That conversation is all about your candidate and what matters to her. If what matters to her can’t be delivered by your client or by this opportunity, it isn’t a fit.

It is also important to understand timing. Without the right timing, discovering impulse is very difficult and even if you discover it, you can’t maintain it. When talking to your candidate, determine early on, can this person be had in a time frame that fits yours.

How do you learn what really matters to your candidate?
Simple. You ask. This is a challenging conversation to have with someone for several reasons- the obvious reasons include getting the person to talk about what’s wrong with the status quo (often perceived by the candidate as speaking poorly of their employer or boss) or getting them to open up about what they really want or don’t have (often perceived as complaining). There is a right time to ask these important questions in the conversation to get the best result as well.

Your candidate will not likely share any of these things though unless she feels some trust, that she is being heard or that she feels the recruiter genuinely cares feeling enough. All of those things are created simply through the process of listening and asking what I call the NOQ (or Next Obvious Question). If someone is talking about the constantly shifting sands of the executive management team at her current company, don’t ignore it, explore it. Why does it matter? How does it impact her? This is the opportunity to engage her emotion, create connection and unlock impulse that will serve you through your interview process.

So, after you discover what matters the question is how do I use that information in the interview process?

I’ll talk about how to use impulse in my next article so look for that next week and how to use the information you have discovered from your candidate to increase the odds of a successful outcome.