There is more to recruiting engaged people than specifications and hard data — hiring managers need to be able to pick up on and use nonverbal cues.
O’Neill directs interviewers to connect with what really inspires a candidate. “The magic is not just using your ears to listen for the words that are said. You need to use all your senses to capture not only the substance, but the candidate’s essence, the spirit that brings life to people.”
Changes in body language, energy, and tone of voice can provide a well of insights. Subtleties such as whether a candidate leans in, makes eye contact, or speaks brightly and repeatedly about a particular experience can indicate their intrinsic motivators and engagement level. On the contrary, someone who changes the subject, talks excessively, rubs their face, or looks downward or away from your gaze may be signaling that they are uncomfortable or uninterested.
Be attentive to how the candidate’s style and personality manifest to envision how they will thrive with the existing boss and team. Managers influence 70% of variance in employee engagement, Gallup research finds, so it is essential to identify an executive who brings out the best in others.
An interviewer should also be mindful of their own presence, O’Neill points out. “To attract hard-to-find, passive candidates, signal your genuine interest and enthusiasm as much in your body language and tone of voice as in your words. When what you do and say are aligned, you come off authentic and believable.”
Craft a compelling message that will inspire the candidate and convey it confidently. Make the candidate feel important. “Engaging with someone is not about words on a page,” O’Neill says. “Job proposals don’t sell top talent on opportunities; compelling stories told with conviction do.”