Active candidates apply directly with up-to-date résumés. But sometimes it is necessary to extend the search to people who are not actively looking for a new position.
Up to 70% of the global workforce is made up of passive candidates.
Recruiting passive candidates can be tricky. And because their skills, experience, current company and track record make them so appealing, it can be tempting to drop some of the usual processes, such as taking an assessment.
Just because they require higher touch does not mean assessments cannot or should not be used for passive candidates. Skills assessments are a crucial part of the process.
Why passive candidates are different
A passive candidate is not actively looking for a job but has the skills that qualify them for a job opening. Passive candidates are usually happy in their current role and not looking for another one, or unhappy but not doing anything about it.
They will likely not have a polished résumé and communication is through informal channels, so you won’t be using your applicant tracking system to manage the process.
And the process can take much longer because the candidate needs to be strategic about taking time off from work for interviews or phone calls.
There can be challenges for the employer too. When looking for passive candidates, it is often for a role outside the usual hiring criteria or for a brand-new position, so you’re not sure how to assess the role, or what it looks like must still be defined.
It is easy to see why many employers let some processes slide. Some believe if candidates don’t actively apply for your role, you should treat them more leniently.
This often means not asking passive candidates to take the usually required assessments.
Can you use skills assessments with passive candidates?
Engaging passive candidates should be the same as any other candidate — that includes using skills assessments. Used skillfully, assessments can help in recruiting passive candidates.
Know when to use the assessment
The process must be adjusted when recruiting passive candidates. If you send active candidates an assessment as the first step of the hiring process, this will have to change for passive candidates.
Build rapport before asking passive candidates to take an assessment.
Engaging them is about building a relationship – they need to understand your offering as much as you want to understand what makes them tick.
Communicate clearly that the assessment is a vital part of the process and benefits both sides.
Give insight to get insight
A great assessment is the same for active and passive candidates. It should offer insight for both sides. You could include:
- Videos and documents that help the candidate understand your organisation.
- Questions and content look and sound like they are from your company.
- Immersive questions that let candidates apply their skills to problems that the organisation is trying to solve.
Test the right skills
An immersive-style assessment lets passive candidates showcase their skills in a way that has meaning and context.
If they need to pitch to a customer, ask them to submit a pitch. By asking questions that are in the context of the role, the candidate will see the value in what you are asking of them.
Don’t slow the process down
Recruiters look for passive candidates because they require hard-to-find skills or a certain performance.
Active and passive candidates with these types of credentials disappear quickly, so the quicker you can make an offer, the better.
Modern assessment technology supports making offers faster. Most assessments are now online so scheduling an interview or making secretive phone calls are a thing of the past.
Most assessments offer some sort of automatic grading based on “right” or “wrong” answers.
Customised tests have a spectrum of “good” answers and “not as good” answers based on the organisation’s needs.
Internal processes can get in the way of a quick decision. Sharing results and profiles of candidates with everyone involved in the decision must be quick.
What if they refuse to take an assessment?
If a passive candidate refuses to take an assessment after showing interest in the job, ask why.
Some decide it is easier to stay in their current role. Some may change their mind or even consider taking an assessment too hard or not worth it for the role.
Taking an assessment indicates the passive candidate is willing to take the next step to work with the organisation, otherwise, perhaps it’s not a great fit or the right timing.
It’s not a no, it’s a ‘not right now’
While passive candidates can be challenging, they can be the best hires. If they say “no” to your offer, it does not have to be the discussions’ end. Keep in touch – you never know when they might be looking for a new role again.
This article first appeared in Vervoe
At Vervoe, their mission is to fundamentally transform the hiring process from mediocracy to meritocracy.