One of my very favorite business books is Influence by Dr. Robert Cialdini. He outlines 6 driving factors to persuade people to say “yes”.

If you can recruit using these 6 persuasion shortcuts, you’ll get more “yes’s” and you’ll get them sooner.

1) Reciprocity

The more you give someone, the more obliged they want to give you something back. That’s why people typically send holiday cards to everyone who sends them one. If a friend invites you to their party, you invite them back to one you’re hosting.

And you don’t have to give much to someone to get something (often more valuable back). One study in Influence showed that if a waiter gives their customer a couple of mints with the check that the tip will increase 23%

But how do you work reciprocity into recruiting?

Recruiting Tactics for Reciprocity

  • Invite your candidate to a speech by one of your leaders. Your candidate likely won’t accept but even the mere invitation will make them feel they owe you. If they accept, even better.
  • Invite your candidate to lunch
  • Send your candidate a book
  • Send your candidate a holiday card
  • Send your candidate a free sampling of your product or service (this is why free tastes of food and wine are so effective in closing sales!)


2) Scarcity

Scarcity is a powerful tool…we’ve all fallen victim to it!

Ever watch the home shopping network and see that just 5 smoothie machines are left…wait, now it’s 4…and now it’s 3.

If a waiter really wants to close a deal on selling one particular dish, all they have to say is:

Tonight’s special is meatloaf but I’m sorry to say there’s just one left.

Recruiting Tactics for Scarcity

  • Interns — Let them know there are just X spots left for this year’s class.
  • Let the candidate know that the hiring manager is limiting her team to just X people this year (“and you’re one of them!”)
  • Let the candidate know you’re making your choice on final candidates by XYZ date.


3) Authority

This law of influence states that people follow the lead of experts.

For instance, the more diplomas a doctor has up on the wall the more likely the patients will follow their advice.

Recruiting Tactics Using Authority

  • Share a news article with your candidate that shows their manager or leader (or CEO) displaying expertise.
  • Ask a hiring manager or department lead to teach your candidate something new.
  • Update your candidate when you have added new tools to the toolkit that they would use if they worked with you (e.g. a new part of the tech stack for developers or sales training/tools if the candidate is a salesperson).


4) Commitment & Consistency

Oh, this is a favorite one of mine.

Cialdini calls this one Consistency as in people like to be consistent with things they’ve previously said or done.

A research example shows that if someone asks us to watch their belongings, we’re more likely to try to capture a thief who tries to steal them than if we had not been asked.

This principle is also called “Commitment Theory” or the “foot in the door” technique.

If you’re selling retail, you’re a lot more likely to get your sale if the person steps inside your store (because they just made an extra “commitment” of putting their foot in the door) then they would be if they are just window-shopping.

Recruiting Tactics for Commitment & Consistency

  • Get the candidate to watch a video about your company — Once they’ve committed to watching the video, they’re one step closer to a foot in the door.
  • Get the candidate to spend quality time with you — If they commit any serious time with you (interview, lunch, etc.), then they are a step closer to joining you.
  • Use what’s called the “Graduated Urgency Model” in selling — Start off with language such as: “Our team members typically…”; before moving on to language like “If you become a teammate of ours, you get…”; before moving to language like “When you become a team member…”; before you move to “As a teammate, you’ll have…”


5) Likeability

People prefer to say yes to those they like.

Cialdini says you will be more liked if you:

  • Are similar to the other party
  • Pay them a compliment
  • Cooperate with them to reach a mutual goal

Recruiting Tactics for Likeability

  • Mirror your Candidate — Mirroring is the #1 trick used in hostage negotiations and it works in sales/recruiting too. When you chat with your candidate, try repeating the 2 or 3 key words they say (ideally the last couple of words they say). E.g. Candidate: “Tell me more about your sales training.” Recruiter: “Our sales training is outstanding…”; Candidate: “Tell me more about the team culture”; “Recruiter: The team culture is unique…”Sounds simple…but it works
  • Dress for the Tie — Guy Kawasaki coined this phrase. If you’re meeting with the candidate, try dressing roughly the same as them.
  • Give the candidate genuine, thoughtful compliments
  • Find things you or your team truly have in common with the candidate and chat about that


6) Social Proof

Cialdini calls this Consensus but I call it social proof.

In short, when uncertain, people look to the actions of others to decide their own.

That’s why so many of us use a tool like Yelp to pick a restaurant. If we’re not certain where to eat, it feels good to pick the place with 100’s of reviews and a 4.8 star rating!

Recruiting Tactics for Social Proof

  • Show off pictures and videos of happy employees
  • Share your Glassdoor ratings and reviews
  • Share your employer of choice awards
  • Use employee testimonials

One mistake many employers make is that they limit their social proof to their corporate/career pages — they don’t leverage social proof on their job descriptions.

Candidates often get their first (and only) impression of you from the job page…so make sure you have social proof there.

For example, Ongig let’s you easily add video, pictures, testimonials, ratings and reviews to any job page. Not all recruiting tactics I recommend are fully automated. But Ongig sure gives you a nice head start!

by in Recruiting Strategies