How to Convince an Indecisive Candidate to Say “Yes”


The best talent – the top candidate for the job you need to fill – is probably already working.

Although companies fill 80 percent of their openings with individuals who are actively seeking employment, those who rank in the top five to 10 percent of their professions are the passive candidates. These happily employed superstars are passively looking at companies and positions. Because most of them are at least moderately happy where they are, they need some extra convincing before they will seriously consider a job move.

Who is this Passive Candidate?

Understanding what motivates passive candidates is the first step toward successfully hiring them. Passive candidates may be:

  • Individuals who like their jobs and have no intention of leaving. These candidates pose the toughest hiring challenge.
  • Those who are open to considering a move. These individuals need to know that the grass really will be greener, or they too, will be inclined to stay where they are.
  • Those on the bubble. Their jobs are somewhat fulfilling, but they’re open to the possibility of something better. They need to be nudged out of their comfort zones.

The typical passive candidate is unlikely to make a move unless it offers a 20 to 25 percent chance of growth in compensation and/or job stretch. The traditional combination of behavior and competency-based interviewing and recruiting is unlikely to make a dent in their resolve. In fact, they may be put off by it.


Here are some typical characteristics of passive candidates:

  • Their motivation and behavior are the opposite of active candidates. They have zero to little motivation to pursue a new job. This equates to an inherent indifference or even a resistance to talking about a career move.
  • They are busy. Working. They have precious little time to spend discussing details or answering standard interview questions. As a result, their attention span may be limited. Be prepared to meet them on their own time and to immediately engage them in the advantages of joining your team.

Sell Your Company and the Position

As you strive to close the deal with a passive candidate, promote your opening as a growth opportunity, not just a job.

  • Define the challenges. Stop listing duties and responsibilities, and detail how the individual can make an impact.
  • Maintain control. Too often, passive candidates opt out of the negotiation process prematurely, for the wrong reasons. Find the individual’s passions and make sure they see how joining your company aligns with them.
  • Be persistent. Find a candidate’s pain points. Uncover their concerns, validate them and address the issues. Don’t stop, even after an offer is accepted, because there will be a counter offer. A good strategy is to get your new hire immediately involved in an initiative that excites them. They’ll be less likely to look back.

The Power is in Your Message

Your selling points to passive candidates must be powerful and consistent. To land A-level talent, you need an A-level message.

By partnering with a recruiting firm that specializes in your industry, you’ll have prime access to passive candidates – and a wealth of resources to help you succeed in selling them on your company. Contact the team at Fillmore Search Group to learn more.

- See more at:

blog, publishingsAisha Quaintance