6 psychological tricks to lock down tentative candidates

Psychological tricks

Switching into a new job could currently be considered a leap of faith. Restructuring programmes are more common than ever, so candidates who were initially keen on a particular position may be more likely to stick with the relative sanctuary of their current position. What can you do to persuade them that it’s the right move?


We’ve spoken to business psychologists, consulting companies and financial services recruiters on what it takes to get candidates to commit in the current climate.

1. Confront their fears

Of course you will address any concerns you think a candidate might have about a particular role – salary, seniority, career progression opportunities and the like – but very often the biggest fears remain unsaid, suggests Dr. Rob Yeung, director at business psychologists Talentspace. “There’s so much that is assumed during the job hunting process, but very often candidates sit on fears that a recruiter would never think to ask about. The best approach is to be open and direct, and address anything, really anything, that could prove to be a stumbling block,” he says.


2. Turn their nervousness into excitement

With the recruitment process more elongated, the interviews more vigorous and financial services organisations less likely to commit to a new hire, it’s more possible for candidates to lose sight of their motivations for going for the job in the first place. It is important for recruiters to work closely with candidates to determine their motivations and what excites them about the opportunity, and offer gentle reminders of those motivations along the way. Recruiters serve as the bridge between hiring managers and candidates, and can often make the difference between a failed hire and an excited one.


3. Remind them that being a star turn is no guarantee of safety

It used to be that primarily underperformers were weeded out when cutbacks were necessary, but the size of redundancy announcements – with whole divisions sometimes being targeted – means no one is guaranteed of safety. As Yeung puts it, you should remind candidates that “individual performance can mean little when departments or companies are restructured.” Sometimes that small reminder can make all the difference. “If a company has implemented some redundancies previously, it’s worth reminding candidates that there are no guarantees that company is finished,” adds Stephen Laser, a psychologist hired by financial services organisations to test candidates’ suitability for a job.


4. Remind them of the upside

Even if, a year later, a huge redundancy programme is implemented by the new employer and the candidate falls victim to that, it’s not been a complete waste of time. Yeung says that, provided the new role is a step up, just three months’ experience can make you more employable. “You need to sell the upside to moving into a new job,” says Laser. “New skills can be learned, they can make a bigger impact, they can switch into other sectors afterwards – all of these things, above and beyond job security, will be a factor.”


5. Remember, money still talks

In this era of banker bashing, clawbacks, malus arrangements and general bonus hatred, it’s easy to assume that money matters take a back seat in the recruitment process. For some candidates, job security isn’t the primary concern, and the right remuneration package will make all the difference. “Some are looking for job security whereas others are hoping for high remuneration and quick advancement,” says Dallas. “There are still a large number of people willing to take a risk for the right reward in the financial sector,” adds Laser. “A big bonus, guarantee or buyout – albeit rarer currently – will definitely be a deciding factor.”


6. An informed candidate is a happy candidate

Knowing all there is about a particular role is one thing, but what’s the motivation for the hire? Is this a one off, or is the company expanding? What opportunities are there likely to be further down the line? What’s the management structure, and how will they fit in? Have they met all the key stakeholders in the firm? Giving the candidate all the available information is a surefire way to reduce anxiety about taking a new position. “This may include financial, cultural, management and infrastructure information or even possibly insight into their current hiring and succession policies,” says Dallas. “As many candidates are currently concerned about being ‘last in, first out’, explaining the company’s position and potential for future restructuring, if available, may also help alleviate fears.”

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