Conducting an interview is no walk in the park. It is a true act of management. Recruiters are required to know their company thoroughly, be emotionally mature, and have great interpersonal skills.

Let’s explore all the characteristics a competent recruiter requires and see how to optimise your professional practices. Here are the five characteristics I believe are important to be a top-notch recruiter:

1. Know yourselves inside out

Socrates’ “Know thyself” aphorism is an important lesson, especially for recruiters, if they need to optimise their relationships.

It becomes a real challenge to hire the right person in the right place and at the right time if recruiters are influenced by prejudices stemming from their personal values.

Those who know themselves can aim to minimise their mistakes. A non-judgemental attitude helps foster a trusting relationship with candidates, which will encourage them to be genuine and reveal their true potential and competencies to recruiters. After all, isn’t this what recruiting is about?

2. Be assertive

You are being assertive when you are able to express, in a constructive manner, what you believe, think, and feel without fear or hostility.

It is important to develop self-confidence as a recruiter in order to talk to your candidates and establish a win-win relationship based on cooperation and mutual benefit. And being assertive is the key. To do this, make sure you are always attentive and find the right balance between yourself and others.

3. Be a good listener

Being a good listener helps in developing a trusting environment and leads to mutual recognition. Truly listening to someone is an act of understanding.

Active listening is a relational attitude that requires the listener to be fully available. It requires deep concentration and a great deal of energy. An active listener must foster the following three qualities to be available to others:

  • Kindness: it is the ability to have a positive attitude towards others.
  • Genuineness: being genuine is the ability to stay connected to what we truly feel. In our discussions with others, we must be aware of the impact others’ words and behaviours have on us.
  • Empathy: it is the ability to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes and understand how they feel.

Riddle me this: “Why do we have two ears, two eyes, and only one mouth?”
To be able to listen and see twice as much as we speak!

4. Have a positive attitude

Our attitudes are how we see the world. They condition the way we see things, our relationships with others, our beliefs, and our performances.

Our attitudes can either help or limit us depending on the given context, and are an indication of our enthusiasm and energy.

Here are a few examples:

Beneficial attitudes: attentive, calm, concentrated, confident, etc.
Negative attitudes: anxious, tired, stressed, etc.
Rely on your physical and mental resources to maintain a positive attitude throughout the recruiting process. Breathing and stretching exercises just before interviews is a good way to do this.

5. Ask the right questions

How well the candidate responds to questions depends on the quality of questions they are asked.

This is why open-ended questions (How? Who? What? How much? Where? When? And Why?) facilitate discussions and allow recruiters to collect facts about the candidate’s competencies, motivations, and aspirations. “Always remember that a fact is infinitely more valuable than a hesitation.”

I highly recommend you prepare your questions before seeing the candidate. Take a look at their application and draw up an interview plan with targeted questions to assess the criteria you’re looking for.

Make sure you’re consistent in the way you order your questions: begin by asking for positive events in the candidate’s professional life followed by challenges they have faced. Round off the interview with a question on their areas of improvement.

Remember this: A good recruiter engages a candidate based on the latter’s competencies, a great recruiter, based on their potential.


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