Recruiters have an important role to play in today’s world of work.

With the gradual return to prepandemic life and the growing need for workers, they have a greater responsibility when it comes to finding and hiring new talent. Whether conducting virtual or in-person interviews, recruiters are the key to bringing back the workforce — so how can they recruit more effectively?

Our Field Studies series covers the skills every world-class recruiter needs in areas such as productivity, relationship-building, identifying talent and looking to the future. We gathered experts in recruiting and talent acquisition from this series to share the productivity hacks — and insider tips — that help them do their best recruiting.

Let’s dive in to learn their secrets.

What are the three most critical skills a recruiter needs?

There are many best practices that make a recruiter successful, but we wanted to know which skills are the most important in order to be effective in this role.

According to tech recruiting expert Barbara Lee, the skills that are paramount to being a good recruiter include “a really strong attention to detail, the ability to move very quickly and the ability to build relationships with people around you — both your hiring managers and candidates.”

It’s no secret the world of hiring is a fast-paced environment. Recruiting often must be done very quickly, especially in a tight labor market where the competition for top talent is fierce.

“An engineering candidate can go off the market in less than two weeks, so if you’re not moving quickly, you’re going to lose the top candidates,” says Lee.

According to Lee, this is where strong attention to detail and the ability to build relationships with candidates are crucial. Taking the time to acquire personal and professional details about what a candidate wants can help create a more personalized candidate experience and build a stronger relationship. 

A candidate who feels seen and valued by a recruiter is ultimately going to feel a greater connection to the company as a whole — which could be the difference between accepting one offer over another.

“If you don’t know how to build those relationships and have a really high EQ [emotional intelligence quotient] of what people are looking for and understand what the process is like for them and be empathetic towards them, you’re also going to lose those candidates,” says Lee.

What is your best productivity hack?

In a work culture that is increasingly virtual, the need for recruiters to remain productive at home is important, especially when many offices are not fully open. Modern technology allows for a convenient remote work environment, but recruiting expert Emily Mays believes remote work can have a negative impact on productivity.

“Our remote culture pushes us to feel like we should be working at all times just because we can, and I think that can actually hit people’s productivity in a way that they start to wear themselves out,” says Mays.

This lack of boundaries between home and office is one of the biggest contributors to employee burnout, and those who work virtually are more likely to say burnout has worsened over the course of the pandemic. So how can recruiters stay motivated, whether in the office or at home?

“I think my biggest productivity hack is knowing myself and knowing what times of day I work best,'' says Mays. “So if I know I have a pretty typical three o’ clock slump, I’m probably not going to want to be on with a candidate, but maybe doing research at that point in time.”

According to Mays, a sense of self-awareness when it comes to their personal working style can help recruiters make the most of their productivity each day. This awareness allows them to structure their workdays and budget their time based on when they are most alert — and factor in time to unplug and take a break.

“I think we have to manage the innovation and the convenience of technology with what it could potentially do to our productivity,” says Mays.

What’s the most insightful question to ask a candidate?

The interview is the pinnacle of the hiring process. It’s the one chance for a recruiter to truly get to know a job candidate — both professionally and personally — and ultimately decide if they are a good match for the company. 

To make the most of this crucial conversation, a recruiter needs to be well-versed in the art of asking the right interview questions. But while an interview is often a chance to learn about the experience and accomplishments of a job candidate, talent acquisition expert Anya Iverova likes to ask a more unique question.

“I have this question in particular. I ask candidates, ‘What is their biggest professional failure?’ I ask them to speak to their biggest failures with regard to the position that they’re applying for,” says Iverova.

This recognition of failure and the ability to talk about it openly is something Iverova looks for in the preliminary interview. Her question serves as an opportunity to allow the candidate to be authentic and express what happened and what they learned, as opposed to just making themselves look good.

Opening up the conversation to talk about failures in addition to accomplishments is also a way for a recruiter and a candidate to form a bond during the interview by creating a safe space for the candidate to be honest.

“This gives me a good sense of, is this person able to kind of put aside their ego and actually be honest?” says Iverova. “It makes them vulnerable and open, and I’m also kind when I listen so that they feel comfortable.”