Needing to know now is critical to the flow of business. Here is one question learned early in my ‘headhunting’ career that cuts through time and 100 questions.
When conducting an Executive Search or Selection assignment, my job is to determine whether a candidate is genuinely interested in the opportunity I’ve presented. Everyone’s flattered when a Headhunter casts their lure; it’s tempting to nibble at the bait.
As a Headhunter, though, it’s vital that I swiftly work out whether there is serious interest or whether a candidate is just fishing… for just enough information to angle for a better offer from their current employer.
To elicit the real answer is no easy task. Not getting an answer can set the hiring process back substantially, leading to a missed opportunity for both the employer and the candidate.
When we have to wait in trepidation on an answer, it more than likely turns out to be a “no”. Instinctively we know that the person has already made up their mind, but does not want to offend us with the truth. Or they could be stalling for time as they are pursuing their first preference… you know how it goes. Sometimes candidates come back to the table with a half “yes” and lots of messy provisos, which equate to a “no” in any case.
When an important decision needs to be made, I guarantee this one question will uncover a person’s intention, even if they do not intend to show their hand:
“Please visualise us getting to the end of this hiring process. Providing all the pieces come together – do not give me an answer now, just what do you guess you will say to me?”
Stop talking and listen, because here comes the answer.
They will say something like, “Well I guess I will say yes, but I just need to think about it (overnight/run it past my family/see what my partner says/etc.).” That’s ok, this is going to be a “yes”.
If they hesitate, then duck and weave with something like, “Look I really don’t know, I can’t even guess, my mind is not clear, have really got to think about it more…” unfortunately it will be a “no”. Move on to whatever your Plan B is, because eventually people come back and confirm that “no”.
So next time you’re asked to guess an answer don’t worry, we are just trying to read your mind.
What methods do you use to uncover people’s thoughts in your world @work, I’d like to know?