From connecting with candidates to staying ahead of recruiting trends, recruiters have their hands full when it comes to finding the best talent for their open roles.

Our Field Studies series covers the skills every world-class recruiter needs, from identifying talent and building relationships to productivity and looking to the future. We had so much good advice that we wanted to share more from our recruiting and talent acquisition experts. In the first installment of Field Studies: Quick Tips, we covered the productivity hacks that help recruiters do their best work. Next, we offered a bird’s-eye view of how recruiters envision the future of recruiting — and what resources help them stay ahead of the curve.

In our last installment, we’ll dive into a few more insights from our experts, from building candidate relationships to banishing bias and collaborating with hiring managers.

What’s the most important thing when building a relationship with a candidate?

When recruiters are seeking new talent, the initial outreach is one of the most crucial components, as it sets the tone for the communication process between a potential job candidate and a recruiter. This connection has a significant impact on whether the candidate chooses to move through the process — and even affects whether they accept your offer.

According to recruiting expert Emily Mays, the key is digging deeper to get to know who they are outside of work.

“I think one of the best ways to foster relationships with candidates — as well as put them at ease — is to ask them things about themselves before you start getting into their actual job experience,” says Mays.

These more personal questions can range from asking about their hobbies and pets to what motivates or makes them happy as an individual. Then as the discussion shifts to the role and the company where they could be working, the questions in turn can shift to what brings them joy at work — and what they enjoy doing day to day.

“Take some of it out of the job description and really push them to talk about what motivates them, what gets them up in the morning and gets them excited about the work that they’re doing,” says Mays.

For Mays, successful recruitment means taking the time to understand “where your candidate comes from, what motivates them and why they’re there,” in order to truly know them outside of what appears on their resume.

“I really try hard to understand who is in front of me and who I’m talking to — and who I’m potentially looking at for a role,” says Mays.

How do you combat bias?

The emphasis on diversity, inclusion and belonging in the workplace has surfaced the barriers candidates are experiencing — and many talent acquisition leaders are addressing unconscious bias as part of this process. While it’s important to dig beneath the surface of a resume when getting to know a candidate’s background and interests, it’s also crucial for recruiters to be aware of any personal biases they may have.

Eliminating bias is top of mind for tech recruiting expert Barabara Lee. As a minority woman working in tech, she emphasizes her initiative in pushing the agenda on diversifying her team.

“I’ve taken several tests to see where my biases lie, I’ve put my team through unconscious bias training and I’ve done this myself,” says Lee.

Unconscious bias can be tricky to detect since it operates outside of an individual’s awareness and therefore creates hidden barriers that prevent recruiters from being open to certain talent. These unknown biases unconsciously eliminate candidates from the recruiting process and ultimately lead to less-inclusive workplaces. So it’s a recruiter’s job to discover what these biases might be.

“It’s extremely important to think about what those things are — and bring awareness to them — so that you can make sure that you’re not using that to vet out talent that could be really amazing,” says Lee.

To tackle unconscious bias, recruiters and hiring teams can take training and tests to find out where their biases lie, both as individuals and as a team. When it comes to addressing her own personal bias, Lee feels that she has made huge strides — but still has room for improvement.

“I think it’s just the start of the conversation that’s going to be ongoing for many years,” says Lee.

How do you collaborate with hiring managers?

Recruiters and hiring managers rely on one another. Without hiring managers, recruiters wouldn’t know what types of talent to look for — and hiring managers can’t hire without recruiters finding the right candidates.

But this relationship can sometimes be rocky, as sometimes hiring managers expect recruiters to be mind readers, resulting in a lack of communication. Recruiting expert Adriele Parker speaks to the importance of a recruiter’s role in helping hiring managers shape and understand their vision — as well as helping them to stay open-minded.

“What they think they need may not necessarily be it, and you may have a better pulse on talent and the right person to actually join their team,” says Parker.

Educating one another can help both parties understand where the other is coming from and what they envision for a particular role, keeping in mind that they both share an interest in the company’s hiring needs. Parker goes on to add that a key part of collaborating with hiring managers is also recognizing them as people.

“It’s really important to understand their work, who they are as individuals, how they collaborate with others — and from there, I can start to foster that relationship and make that connection with them,” says Parker.