The art of communicating to an ‘active’ candidate in your hiring process

Understanding candidate skills and their fitment into the job on hand is single handedly the most important part of any recruitment process, because that is where the funnel starts from. It is important to not just blindly sell a job to a candidate (this harms not just your conversion rates, but also a candidate’s eventual happiness in being at the right job).

The problem with an approach of asking “Would you be interested in this job” simply upfront is that you will end up getting answers in yes/no rather than making him speak about what he wants to do in life. (Ex: Do you have experience in java, do you like working in an IC role, etc.) A good recruiter is expected to make these decisions after understanding candidate interests. As a first step it is important into sell job/company in a structured way, which is missing in typical JDs on job portals.

Over the years, I have built a small checklist to keep in mind so that one doesn’t fall into that trap — this also helps in perfect matching of a candidate to the job :)

Company evaluation

  • Spend time in understanding USPs of the company that I’m pitching to the candidate e.g. Business idea/Success company has seen so far/Funding etc.
  • If you are hiring for a start-up then look-up background of founders, their vision and current team of the company.
  • If you are hiring for enterprise then look-up hiring manager’s profile of the Product/Project that a candidate will be assigned to and its current status and future scope.
  • Ask about the real “pain point” which client is currently looking to solve with this hire and its scope.

Candidate Evaluation

“Great Engineers” are hired to solve complex problems unlike hiring for production support or migration projects and hence your analysis plays a major role. Few points that help in better evaluation are —

  • Does candidate have pedigree education or any standout points during academics (Ex: Gold medalist in maths Olympiad)
  • Does he have any “measurable” accomplishments like participating in coding contests, shipping code in X hours, improving current project performance by X% etc.
  • What “specific problem” is he solving in his current project(s). I would rather eliminate folks who do operational things like requirements gathering, unit testing etc versus a person who writes “I have built API from scratch for an Ad platform to effectively communicate with other modules”.
  • Looking out for Geeks, hobby programmers, open source enthusiasts etc.
  • A look into candidate’s LI recommendations / Any interesting comments on Twitter / Any blogs he has written (if any) can reveal any “standout” points to focus during call and helps in better relationship building

After a good understanding of the above two segments a recruiter should also focus on the same during the call with the candidate.

  • Ask relevant questions to understand the scale and complexity of the problems candidate has already solved.
  • Understand team size that was involved in solving this and his individual contribution towards it.
  • Tech stack that he/she got exposed to while solving these problems.
  • Some operational things which are vital to understand are
  • Any other existing offers
  • Key reason why he is unhappy in current role (Obvious that this should not reflect in new role).
  • If the spouse is working where he/she is located

So there you go! An easy checklist to complete every time you deep dive into a new candidate, which will surely get good results.

Raghu Tenneti

About the Author

Raghu Tenneti is an Advisor at TalentExperts. He believes speaking/connecting with candidates is not always about selling a job on hand but rather understanding their needs and helping them find some place that makes them tick. You can reach him at