For The Prospective Candidate: Be Aware Of These Little Tricks

A recruiter's secret, little tricks that determine if a prospective candidate is serious, dedicated, and willing to make a move.

Today I am going to share with you the little unknown secrets that a recruiter will use in determining if they want to (a) work with you as a prospective candidate, or (b) if a hiring manager representing a company wants to interview you as a candidate.  Like all industries, there are tricks of the trade.  The impetus of this article is: I watched my wife evaluate submitted college essays as she is a reader that determines college admissions for a university.  If she sees, for instance, a sentence with two spaces after the period she knows the essay was most likely written by an older individual because they teach students today to only leave one space after a period.  You will note I leave two and always have.  It’s these types of tricks that a recruiter can also apply to determine how serious a candidate is working with the firm we represent or us.

Are You Really Listening?

First, let’s hear from the candidate’s side.  Just recently I was talking to a prospective candidate and I deliberately did not share who the client was. Still, I did drop enough hints that if they were serious about interviewing they would have been able to determine who the client was.  They did exactly that. When I called back to report my client was interested in interviewing the candidate and I got ready to share the client’s information the candidate immediately responded, “I was hoping it was them.”  When I asked how they knew that it was that firm, they responded, “By the hints that you left me I was able to determine the firm.”  Needless to say, I was overly impressed and shared this information with my client, who as expected was equally impressed.  It also helps that the position is for a research/analyst position we are looking to fill.

Are You An Early, On Time, Or Late Prospective Candidate?

Another example to determine the willingness and desire of a prospective candidate to work with our firm is how fast they do want they say they are going to do.  For example, if I ask them to send a resume or a CV, do they do that immediately send it or at least send it when they say they are going to?  How about a forward calendar, or prospective new clients that they could bring to the table?  There are all sorts of these little tests that I set up to gauge a candidate’s interest in working with us and/or the firm we represent.  If we are even further down the road and my client requests references to do a reference check, how fast do they respond?  Also, how appropriate are the references to the position we are trying to fill?  Are they senior people or junior people that are being used as references?  As you can see we can ascertain responsiveness; a key component we are trying to measure and one that cannot be shown on a resume. 

Follow Through & Promptness

Another trick is that when we ask to set a follow-up appointment, do you respond immediately with a date and a time? Or do you have to think about it, or check your calendar and then get back?  This also applies if you are working directly with a hiring manager.   If the latter, do you get back promptly, or does it take a while to set the next call and/or interview?  Specifically on the first initial call – I personally always request the prospective candidate to reach out to me on a specific date and time.  When the phone rings exactly at the designated time I know the candidate is really interested in that first conversation, and the call goes well.  If on the other hand, the telephone does not ring at the designated time with no text or email saying they were delayed, it starts the conversation off (in my mind) not as strongly as if the call had come on time, or if I was notified of the delay.

The Tests For Future Relationships With A Prospective Candidate

As you can clearly see, the interview process and the initial conversation are always being evaluated.  You, the prospective candidate, are surely questioning whether you want to work with us. Simultaneously, we are ascertaining if we want to work with you as well as the hiring manager if you are going directly to a firm.  The process is not always perfect; mistakes can be overlooked on both sides, but these tests set up future relationships.   So, if you are working with a recruiter or working directly with the hiring manager, look for these “little traps” as they can yield major results both negatively and more importantly positively.


If you would like to discuss your options, please reach out for a confidential conversation at 760-477-1284 or email at [email protected]. He can also be reached on LinkedIn. Subscribe to our monthly newsletter here, which is a compilation of our weekly blogs, so you never miss one. You can find our listing in the “supplier and services” section of the Red Book under the title of “executive recruiting.”

About Harlan Friedman, JD & Founding Member, H. Friedman Search LLC. Harlan is a thirty-year veteran Public Finance Banker turned recruiter who specializes in the placement of all levels Public Finance Bankers, Healthcare Bankers, Municipal Advisors, Compliance Officers, Issuers, and Bond Counsels.