8 Questions To Screen Passive Candidates

Share:  Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn Share on Google Plus Share on Facebook

Posted by Guest Blogger

April 13, 2016

magnetEvery Hiring Manager’s dream is to successfully recruit passive candidates. But how do you attract this elite talent pool? Proactive talent pipelining are on the tips of everyone’s tongues, right behind value proposition and targeted search. The next time you hit the digital streets to source today's hidden talent gems, consider using these eight questions to uncover how motivated your passive candidate really is. 

Currently I have a task force developing an overarching recruitment strategy for a critical area of our client’s business. Sounds serious, doesn’t it? Well, it is! We are competing against big industry players and growing local companies in a finite talent pool. Sound familiar? I’m sure it does, because this is a never ending story in high tech and manufacturing environments. 

As my eyes wandered down the lists of resources for active, semi-passive, and passive candidates, I thought of the many times clients have expressed a desire for candidates who are not looking for a new position. They want top talent who are happy where they are. This is diametrically opposed to the first lesson we learn in recruiting. There must be a reason for the potential candidates to make a change. If they are truly happy you will not be successful at recruiting them.

Realistically, people are exponentially more complicated than meetst the eye! And yet, unless candidates are determined to retire from their current companies, they are merely waiting for a trigger to job jump. I asked myself how we as recruiters could identify that illusive trigger point and hit the target accurately and consistently. Data shows it’s all about the motivators.

Motivators of Passive Candidates

LinkedIn conducted a poll with two groups of professionals. They asked those who were employed what they needed in order to make a change. Then they asked those who did recently change employers why they made the switch. Here is the comparison.


On the flip side, Yoh surveyed candidates who declined offers. The top three reasons candidates were NOT motivated to accept the offer were career advancement, compensation, and location.  Tweet this stat!

What is the common thread among the three groups? Career advancement and compensation. That brings me to the second lesson drilled into my brain for targeting and recruiting candidates. There must be another key motivator other than compensation. Compensation alone is not enough to make that person a viable candidate.

Silkroad broke down key applicant motivators by generation.




Even across generations there is a pattern. Flexible work arrangements, work/life balance, and good benefits are all elements of quality of life. Passionate, engaged workforce, professional development, and rewards for achievements all point to company culture.

So, what do we do with all this information? How do we process it and make it actionable?

At the most basic level, we can incorporate these key motivators, or triggers, into our value propositions, job postings, email templates, subject lines, and phone conversations. But every candidate is different, so the message must be targeted. Asking the right questions and actively listening to the candidates gives us the roadmap for how to recruit and close them on our opportunity. It also gives us information to leverage in order to create a compelling offer.


Eight questions to help uncover the motivation of passive candidates


  1. What aspect of this opportunity sparked your interest?
  2. What do you love about what you are currently doing?
  3. What would you change, if you could?
  4. If you had your druthers what would you be doing?
  5. What would you need to see in this opportunity to make a change?
  6. How will you be evaluating this opportunity?
  7. What are the key deciding factors for you to accept an offer?
  8. What would prevent you from accepting an offer?

These questions will lead to meaningful dialogue around the why’s; making it easier to customize value propositions, and more effectively attract and close candidates for a proactive approach and talent pipeline building.

The target is in sight. Aim Straight.

Read More Success Stories Jennifer Klingler earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Management from the University of Maryland. She thoroughly enjoyed the thrill of the hunt in executive search and managed her own successful search firm for over 15 years.

Topics: Recruiting Trends

Strategies to Recruit Passive Candidates  eBook


Get bleeding-edge content delivered right to your door, or to your inbox.  Sign up, it's that easy.

Search the Blog