Applicant Rapport

 There are a hundred ways to build rapport with your candidates. Unfortunately, most of them don't work.

Take the technique of "mirroring and matching." Sales gurus will tell you that if the other person speaks slowly, then you should, too. Otherwise, you'll appear edgy or hyperactive. And that's a non-starter for rapport.

Proponents of Neuro-Linguistic Programming feel that a person's communication style is the key to rapport. For example, if the candidate is "auditory," then you should show empathy with, "I HEAR what you're saying," or close with, "How does that SOUND" to you?"

I know a recruiter who always tries to find something in common with his candidates. He figures that if he roots for the same football team, drinks the same beer or prays at the same church, he'll form a special bond with his candidates. Maybe he's right -- but his candidates are still out of control.

Can't We All Be Friends?
These techniques are fine, but they miss an essential point: recruiting is essentially a B-to-B proposition.

It's true that in some respects, your candidates are "consumers." And in consumer or retail sales, it's important to understand your customer's feelings, frustrations and aspirations.

But when all is said and done, your job is to provide a professional business service. And business rapport isn't the same as consumer rapport.

Here's how business rapport differs from consumer rapport, from the candidate's point of view:

Trust You share my values and we have a lot in common. You interviewed me carefully and understand my needs.

Warmth You tell funny jokes and have a bubbly personality.You tell me the truth and treat my interests with respect.

Performance You're my friend, so you'll work hard and won't let me down. You have a history of success, and follow a timetable for results.

When you select a doctor, a lawyer or a CPA, it's okay to expect a certain level of friendliness. But the bottom line is, your choice -- and your loyalty -- is based on their competency, not their bedside manner.

Years ago, my wife and I selected a real estate agent because she was a friend and lived next door. After 90 days, our house didn't sell. So we switched to a more competent agent, and our house sold in a week. Sadly, we lost a friend in the process.

Making friends is fine, but it's not your primary goal as a recruiter. Taking care of business is.

By Bill Radin
 BlackDog Recruiting Software Inc.
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