Why conscious curiosity is the Soft Skill separating good recruiting, from great recruiting

How a self-motivated desire to learn and ask questions drastically improves recruiting and hiring

It’s amazing how connecting dots makes the work of HR and recruiting teams so much easier. Knowing what the business does, how it makes money, and what’s happening in your industry is important. So is knowing what hiring managers are looking for – and how to interact with the right candidates. And yet, many are not doing these things.

The best HR pros have learned that the only way to be successful is to be consciously curious— meaning they are self-motivated to learn more deeply about how their and other businesses work and thrive.

Corporate training cannot fill a gap when employees are not curious – it may result in you retaining even less. If you’re not curious, it ultimately means you’re operating at a status quo. Forcing yourself through training that you find boring or ignoring the opportunity to gain more insight to improve your role as a consultative HR or talent acquisition professional is a lost opportunity. It doesn’t have to be so! Being curious on your own is important because it helps you:

Gain credibility
Improve your ability to assess candidates
Create a better candidate experience by better explaining the company’s strategy and how the role adds value
Become an expert in the commercial language of your organization and your industry
Build and manage relationships with all key stakeholders: hiring managers, candidates, employees, and leaders.

The “process” of recruiting isn’t hard — but it does take capabilities and competencies that are rarely taught. Setting and managing expectations tops the list, but what differentiates good from great recruiters is the skill of conscious curiosity, and it requires focus. Corporate workplaces haven’t evolved to teach this yet – training rarely leaves us feeling more informed or energized. Conscious curiosity is also not a step you can build into best practice recruiting processes. Nobody will tell you to be more curious nor can it be measured, so how might you approach working your curiosity muscle?

Five Key Tips to Practice Conscious Curiosity

Note that there is work in building this skill. These tips may give you some extra help developing this new cerebral muscle.

Do your own research about the business or industry and actually use the answers to inform your next few steps. This can be through industry newsletters or podcasts, following influencers on social media, or even online courses. The point is to go beyond where you normally would in your quest for information, even if it’s hard and you feel that you have an answer – keep digging!
Share your intention and take advantage of the discussion by asking questions. When you tell people you’re interested and want to learn, they’re often more willing to share with you. Build on answers they give and ask for their personal perspective on a matter. We will all invest more time when people show active listening, feel that their perspectives are valued, and the person is trying to understand what they are sharing.
Ask your questions in a way that demonstrates that you care about their answers and demonstrate some comprehension on your end. Repeat the response back to them in your own words and ask if you still have the information correct. Reply to them with your thoughts on why you find what they are saying interesting or ask clarifying questions about a particular aspect of the discussion. Most important – don’t forget to thank them for sharing with you.
Admit you are not the expert and ask if there is anything else you should have asked to gain more knowledge of a particular area. Invite them to share info with you, even if you don’t ask. There is an opportunity to further connect with others when you admit you don’t know something and want their help to learn. Vulnerability is a strength when connecting with others and can often deepen the conversation to a more personal level which gives you new insights but is also a very human way to connect and build relationships.
Show you care! Don’t forget human interaction and how it feels when people are interested in you as a person, what you care about, how you are doing, and what’s new in your world. As you practice curiosity, you will seem like a more caring person as well. Caring for people attracts positive energy and makes it easier to ask more questions or have people trust you with more information. Recruiting is all about relationships and they are extremely hard to build when people can sense you don’t care and are not interested in what they have to say.

At its most tactical application, conscious curiosity can help you better understand roles in more business units faster which can make you more versatile. This can also lead to improving your ability to screen candidates and ask more probing questions to hire managers to hit the mark on what they are looking for the first time.

Take the opportunity to be a cut above and turn on the conscious curiosity engine now. Understand how the company makes money, have chats with different departments, and probe deeper. Remember, being curious means listening twice as much as you speak. Recruiters are often chatty, to begin with, so this is your reminder to listen to show you’re interested in them! Asking insightful questions beyond where you do today will help shape your own brand as a top recruiter capable of bringing in top talent because you truly understand, and care!

Jeremy EskenaziAbout the Author:

Jeremy Eskenazi, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, CMC, is the founder of Riviera Advisors, a boutique talent acquisition optimization consulting firm. Riviera Advisors does not headhunt, it specializes in recruitment training and strategy consulting, helping global HR leaders transform how they attract top talent. From best practice recruiting, to improving speed to hire, to candidate experience, Riviera Advisors is a go-to place for strategic talent advisors. For more information, visit www.RivieraAdvisors.com.

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