Robert Frost wrote that good fences make good neighbors. A clear and
constant boundary line helps instill a sense of order, stability and
The same rule applies to your professional relationship with candidates.
By setting simple ground rules, you can minimize many of the problems
associated with out-of-control behavior. And good fences will help
screen out those who might otherwise waste your time. Here are six easy
scripts designed to meet your candidate-control objectives:
1. Explain your function. I work on behalf of my clients to fill
critical positions. If your background is a match or you can make a
contribution, Ill do everything I can to make sure you get interviewed.
And if you and the employer are interested in working together, Ill do
everything I can to generate an acceptable offer.
2. Manage expectations. The employer has a thoughtful process for
screening, interviewing and capturing high-quality talent, and their
goal is to move as quickly as possible. That being said, scheduling
conflicts can often gum things up. So if a delay occurs, I want you to
be patient and not take it personally. Can you do that?
3. Set ground rules. Its very important that you and I work together as
a team. To get the best results, Ive got three simple rules. First, you
need to give me good information and not tell me what you think I want
to hear. Second, if anything changes on your endan interview with
another company, a change in your job function or salary, or even a
change of heartyou need to let me know right away. And third, all
communication with my client needs to be cleared by me. If theres
something you want to say, email or Tweet, youll need to check with me
first. Got it?
4. Understand your candidates motivation. Ive found that when a person
wants to make a job change, it boils down to one of two reasons: Either
theres something at your current job that drives you crazy and will
never get better; or theres something you desperately want thatll never
be available. Does either of those scenarios describe your situation?
5. Assess the risk of a counteroffer. Lets suppose you interview with my
company and they make you an offer, and in good faith you accept the
offer. But when you go to resign, your current company offers you more
money to stay. Im curious: What would you tell them?
6. Put the brakes on turn-downs. I just want to let you know that its my
clients policy not to extend an offer until youve signaled through me
that youre ready to accept. If there are any sticking points or loose
endsin terms of salary, benefits, duties, responsibilities or reporting
relationshipswell iron those out before the offer is made. Are you okay
While its impossible to monitor or control everything a candidate wants,
thinks or does, it is possible to provide structure to your relationship
and command a greater level of respect. That way, youll prevent
dysfunction, eliminate surprises and, in the process, fill more jobs.