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Interviewing Passive Candidates Versus Active Candidates

Getting top talent is a full-time job in itself. The few qualified people most of the time are happily employed elsewhere or self-employed. It becomes an uphill task to woo the employed ones away from their jobs as they are not actively seeking a job. These candidates are known as passive candidates.

According to statistics from a LinkedIn report,  70% of the workforce is passive. They are not looking for jobs but are willing to discuss relevant opportunities that come their way. Hence, employers have to work twice as hard to get good talent.

Covid-19 has seriously impacted the job market. As the world recovers economically, there are more jobs than there are qualified people to fill them. While finding talent is hard, it is even more challenging to convince someone to leave a stable position in a new company, especially in the Covid-19 era.

Here are a few tips to guide you when interviewing passive candidates.

1.    Ask Open-Ended Questions

If the candidate makes it to the interview process, they are interviewing you as much as you are them.  Ask open-ended questions, then listen to what they have to say. Don’t rush them, but note any gaps and pain points in their current role, such as salary, company culture, benefits, etc. Tell them how your offer or position will accommodate their current job’s shortcomings. In short, offer them what their current job is not.

2.    Improve Your “Wooing” Skills

When interviewing passive candidates you have to acknowledge that you are the one who needs the candidate. Let them know the value they will bring to your company and what you are willing to offer them for their value.  The remuneration could be in terms of benefits, perks, money, flexibility, or anything they lack in their current job.  Never make the mistake of treating them like active candidates, or they will lose interest.

3.    Be Flexible

When you are wooing a passive candidate, you have to be flexible and work with their time, not yours. Accommodate them and their schedule, and if they are totally unavailable for a physical interview, don’t fret. Consider using technology by doing a video interview on Skype or other means.

4.    Integrity

Do not promise the candidate things you know you cannot deliver. Remember, you are enticing this person from a job where they are happy. Making them leave their job, only to find you gave them empty promises is the height of unprofessionalism and lack of integrity. Be upfront about what you can afford in terms of payment and the other perks and benefits.

The employment industry is talent-driven, and candidates, whether passive or active, always have options. Listen to the candidate, tell them the best you can offer, discuss what they want, and tell them where you can make compromises. In the end, honesty wins.

5.    Make The Interview Process Short

The candidate has a job, which means they are already short on time. They are not willing to go through the tedious process since they are not looking for a job. You are the one looking for a candidate, so make the process as painless as possible for them. This is a key distinction when interviewing passive candidates. You already know their worth, so the interview process should be automatically cut in half.

When the candidate expresses interest, act fast as they may quickly lose interest. If they reach out concerning the position, set up a meeting immediately at their convenience. However, while you rush things, be sure to go through the hiring procedure before making an offer. Don’t act in haste and regret at leisure.

Conclusion about Interviewing Passive Candidates

Hiring passive candidates is a tricky affair. It isn’t easy to entice someone to take a job offer when they were not looking in the first place. The adage the Pied Piper calls the tune rings true here. You need them more than they need you, so you have to be strategic about the whole issue.


Once they express interest, move in haste. Make the interview pleasant. The interview mood will tell the candidate a lot about your office culture. Nobody wants to work in a stressful environment, so make it worth their while.

Interested in learning more about how Loxo can help you engage and interview more passive candidates? Check out our website here.

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