Main image of article Taking the Candidate-Centric Approach to Hiring
For companies looking to find top tech talent, a Microsoft recruiter offers this advice: it’s not about you. “We try to keep the candidate at the center of everything we do,” said Amy Miller, a 10-year recruiting veteran who currently finds data scientists and machine learning engineers for Microsoft. This approach has helped her company excel in the mutually beneficial task of connecting candidates with their dream jobs within Microsoft.

The One Microsoft Approach

The Microsoft recruiting effort includes both sourcers and recruiters. Sourcers focus on identifying prospects with the desired skill sets, while recruiters work with Microsoft’s business groups to recruit the best candidates for each job. The overarching goal isn’t to fill a recruiter’s specific open req, however. It’s to get the best talent available working for Microsoft. If Miller finds an exceptionally skilled candidate that unfortunately is a square peg for her round-hole req, she often refers the talented candidate to other business groups. “I purposefully have relationships with recruiters in other Microsoft businesses units. I’ll often say to a candidate ‘based on what we talked about we should connect you with XYZ other recruiter.’ But If Miller finds truly game-changing talent, she’s empowered to go to her business unit leaders, who will often create a job to add that talent to Microsoft.

Reframe Business Unit Relationships as Partnerships

If the focus is on the candidates, that means the focus is not on hiring managers’ needs. Miller acknowledged that approach sometimes raises some eyebrows. Here’s the way she positions it with her hiring managers: “Hey, I’m not at the center of this, either; we are partners. You and I are working together going after the candidate.” Miller frames the situation as recruiters and hiring managers working together to collectively put candidates first, and solving business problems in the right way.

Start with Asking Questions

Candidate-centricity also requires forgoing your open req for a few moments and really listening. Some of Miller’s favorite questions during her initial call with a candidate include:
  • How do you view us?
  • What gets you jazzed about taking my call?
  • What myths about my company can I help you bust?
  • What things have you heard?
It also requires a long-term mindset. “Make sure you keep abreast of any changes in your candidate’s life,” advised Miller. Know what each candidate is looking for so you don’t pitch jobs to the wrong audience, especially when there’s a hard offer on the table. If you stay in sync with the candidate at each stage, then it’s easy to say, “This offer mirrors everything we talked about. There’s really no reason to say no, right?”

Key Takeaways

In sum, Miller offers with these tips for moving to a candidate-centric approach:
  • Review your process and see if you are asking candidate-centric questions.
  • Keep abreast of any changes in your candidate’s life. Make sure you know what he or she is looking for so there is no surprise at the offer stage.
  • Create partnerships across your organization by getting to know fellow recruiters and their business needs. Share best practices on both candidate and client engagement.
  • Remember, good or bad, you are the face of the organization to candidates.
Learn much more about Microsoft’s best practices in recruiting by listening to Miller’s Dice webinar.