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How to Build Trust with Candidates and Turn Interviews into Conversations

By Poyen Ramos on June 6, 2017

A recruiter's job can often be an odd conundrum. We'd like to think you're there to help them find the perfect job, but a lot of candidates may see it differently. They may see you as someone just trying to fill the position and not caring about their career goals.

Building a great candidate-recruiter relationship from the start of the interview is crucial when it comes to finding the perfect hire. When you gain their trust, they will be willing to open up more, share information to you about their goals, and maybe send you other great referrals.

So to figure out the best way to establish trust, here are three tactics you can use to get candidates to see you as a partner rather than an employer.

1. Establish a conversation, not a Q&A

If you want to get the best out of a candidate, try not interview them in a stilted form of question-and-answer. Make it more natural, like a two-way conversation with a good friend. They may be the most brilliant specimen in the candidate line up, but if you can’t connect with the them on a human level and build trust you will only get disappointed.

Cynthia LaBarge, Head of Corporate Recruiting at Consilium Staffing, says that this helps her “gain more (and give more) information while simultaneously building genuine rapport.”

2. Ask open-ended questions

Recruiters try to get the ball rolling by starting with classically tough interview questions—this will only make the candidate more nervous than he already is. Instead of doing this, begin with more optimistic questions that reflect curiosity about the candidate's work style and goals. The goal here is to put them at ease and see you as a person who's invested in them.

Ask questions like, "What is your ideal work environment?" and "What is your preferred leadership style?"

If you want to provide candidates the opportunity to convey what matters to them in their career, ask questions such as, "What do you hope to learn in this role?" This sends the message that you want to see the candidate actually succeed.

3. Open up and talk about your job

Another way to build rapport with the candidate is sharing background information about yourself and your career path in the interview. LaBarge calls this a “recruiter credibility statement,” where recruiters talk about their professional story.

“Share personal stories that can give the candidate a little bit of insight into who you are and what the people at the company are like,”says Michael Quoc, the CEO of DealSpotr. Transparency is key.

It is in our business to show we care about candidates. However, the problem is that all too few recruiters show it. So the next time you meet a candidate for the first time, think of it as more of a conversation and less as an interview in order to build trust.

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