Candidate v Client – Who Has The Power?

Author: Grace Cannon

Candidate v Client – who has the power

his is a topical question and one where the answer is completely dependent on the context of both the candidate and client at the time of interview. In most cases, it is assumed that the client is in the driving seat when it comes to recruitment/the interview process and the majority of time that is the case. However, sometimes to attract top talent or a headhunted candidate, the client really has to really sell their opportunity to the candidate to get the candidate fully interested in the opportunity.

Working as a specialist recruiter, the majority of candidates we speak to are industry specific and are headhunted (not actively looking) and potentially, these are candidates who the client could pay a fee for if placed. Clients then, rightfully so, expect the candidate to come in and add value straight away, to justify the initial investment of a recruitment fee.

Managing expectations as a recruiter is an essential element of handling the recruitment process, right from initial engagement with both candidate and client. When taking a job brief from a client, it’s essential to be thorough and objective and to manage the expectations of the client. Likewise, when beginning dialogue with a candidate it’s important to understand exactly what they’re looking for, what they would consider, what they would not and everything in between right from the off.

There’s no definite answer on who has the power during the interview process through to offer stage. This is due to the large amount of variables that have an impact on the manner in which both clients and candidates interview.

On the client side, there are many variables that impact this including:

Are they looking to fill the role as soon as possible?

Are they looking to bring someone on from a competitor?

Is the client looking for someone to come on board and hit the ground running straight away?

Likewise, on the candidate side:

Is the candidate actively looking for a new opportunity?

Are they happy in their current position?

Is the candidate only looking to move if the package/opportunity is absolutely spot on?

All of the above points are massively influential in how the interview process plays out. If a client’s opportunity is urgent and they’re looking to fill it as soon as possible, it is likely that they will be more receptive to selling their opportunity to a candidate who may not be actively looking. On the candidate side, if they’re actively looking and are hoping to go into a new opportunity as soon as possible, they will be far more likely to sell themselves more as opposed to if they were in a job in which they were secure and doing well. Dependent on their situation, active candidates will often take a salary/package of what they were on previously or in some cases a drop in basic salary/package.

It’s the role of the recruiter to handle the process, and manage the expectations of both candidate and client from the off. Making sure the client knows the exact situation/expectations of the candidate and making sure the candidate knows the exact situation with the client.

The crux of it is, there is no black and white answer. It is completely subjective to each individual situation and the power is never completely in favour of the client or the candidate. Eliminating egos and sticking to the facts is absolutely imperative to which way the power falls and making sure the best possible outcome is achieved.

Grace is a specialist international recruiter into the Data & Information Management industry.