Meeting Candidates…A Must or Bust?

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Meeting CandidatesOver the years, you may have heard people exhorting you to meet your candidates in person.  A boss here, a boss there, a Client here, a Client there.  Meeting a candidate in person is an excellent way to get a read on them from a very different point of view than simply taking a look at their resumes or references. Indeed, it’s often when meeting someone in person that we find that presentation skills or communication skills are lacking.  Sometimes an in person meeting helps a recruiter realize that their fantastic candidate is much crazier in person than over the phone. J  If you’re a busy recruiter juggling numerous job orders and clients (as well as some roles out of state) is an in person meeting with a candidate truly a necessity?

In many cases, professional recruiters are working on a number of different types of job positions, and often fairly specialized.  In that instance, the likelihood that a recruiter is reaching out to non-local talent is fairly high.  The simple answer in these situations is clearly no; meeting a candidate in person is neither necessary nor realistic.  But for the rest of our local job positions, meeting a candidate in person can be a valuable part of the recruiting equation. The meeting can make a candidate feel more connected and loyal to you as a recruiter from a simple 15 minute meeting.  They may feel that you’ve taken your time to help them in their job search.  As well, the ability to tell a client that you have qualified, met and interviewed candidates that you are submitting is a fantastic selling tool.  And with that all said…a surprising conclusion: No, meeting a candidate in person is not necessary to be successful (and good) at what we do.

Recruiters are paid, often handsomely, for a very specific skill set.  Recruiters aren’t just good at picking through resumes and searching for keywords. If that’s all it took to be successful, I’m assuming this job would be far less lucrative and much less stressful. No, recruiters aren’t paid to sift resumes. We’re paid for a specific talent; the ability to qualify, assess and evaluate another person quickly, efficiently and correctly.  That goes beyond a simple resume match.  Recruiters don’t just read resumes, we read people.  We read language, speech, communication, attitude, interest and even a person’s reliability in the first 10 minutes of a conversation.  Think that sounds like bunk? Then you’re probably not a professional recruiter.

I’d love to say that we meet all our candidates all the time.  But the simple truth of the matter is that recruiters are paid for an almost instinctive ability to read other people.  Perfecting your qualification techniques over the phone takes some time and some experience.  But with that time and experience a good recruiter can gain an impressively quick and accurate read on a person (at least professionally). And when you’re managing a high stress, fast paced business, the time it takes to meet a candidate in person can often become too much of a time drain.

Professional recruiters: Embrace your inner critic and trust your instincts.  While there are definitely tips and techniques to being able to pull valuable information out of a candidate, those skills are built on a foundation and talent that you have likely always had.  Trust your intuition; listen to your gut and make a judgment call. Recruiting is a detail heavy, process heavy job on the best of days.  But once you’ve run through the process, the steps and the prerequisites, it’s that discerning intuition (awesome) inborn to recruiters that makes us worth the price.

Read more in Interview Techniques

Marie is a writer for covering career advice, recruitment topics, and HR issues. She has an educational background in languages and literature as well as corporate experience in Human Resources.