Recruitment Process - HiRes

One trend I have seen in my last 20 years in recruitment with recruiters, TA leaders and HR, is people struggle to tell a business leader ‘No’.

Some of this is on the business leader as they like to continue the tone of a master/servant relationship. Some of this is on the recruiter, HR or TA leader, as they take the position of not wanting to push back on the business because of:

a) It’s seen as career limiting move.


b) They don’t have the confidence to say ‘No’.

I’m not talking about just saying ‘No’ for the sake of saying it. I’m talking about saying ‘No’ with professional courtesy and respect. In my experience, it’s all in the how you say ‘No’

Have you ever worked with a great project or program manager? They have mastered the art of ‘No’. See, their whole job is about managing ‘No’. Customers want to change the scope, but not change the deliverable dates on a project. People want to add extra features to a product, but don’t think about the impending release date. Like the image above, if someone took the time to say ‘No’, then we might see less outcomes like this in business.

In my experience when the relationship in new with a business leader (or hiring manager), you have yet to establish the credibility and trust to just respond with a cold hard ‘No’.  Also, if you try and debate someone with no previous associated relationship just based on emotions and feelings, you’re going to lose 9/10.

Facts = Data….

Data = Credibility….

Credibility = Trust.


Results = Credibility….

Credibility = Trust.

Data and Results are the quickest way to establish credibility, and credibility is the quickest path to trust.

Results can be as simple as under promising and over-delivering. Or, being consistent with what you say is reflected in what you do. The quicker you establish a track record of consistently delivering on your actions, the quicker you will gain trust.

Let’s go back to my comment above related to it’s all in the how you say ‘No’.

Once we have established trust, most leaders actually crave more people to push back and disagree if you are the trusted subject matter expert. People want better outcomes. They want it faster, better quality or at a better ROI. What I find underlying all of this is people want options.

Options give the leader the ability to choose. ‘No’ is not an option. It’s linear.

Here is an example of how to frame ‘No’ more appropriately in a conversation once the trust is established.

“No, I disagree, but would you like to hear why, and what I think are some better alternative options we have to produce a better outcome?”

In my career, I have only had a few times when the answer came back as a ‘No’:

  1. I had not established trust and I was pushing too fast and too early.
  2. The leader was a tool.

When I get the yes to my first question, I follow up with something like this:

“We have option A, B, and C. I lean towards option C because it gets us to a better outcome and here is why.”

After I explain the why, I follow up with:

“Based on this information, what option are you leaning towards?”

What you will notice in the statement I make, is that I always give my opinion with options. If I am trusted, then they want my advice and input, but with the flexibility of options.

Even if they don’t like any of the options I present, what I have created is the space for a conversation. A dialog and discussion around what other alternatives there could be by saying ‘No’, but in a professional and respectful way.

Need some Intelligent Advice on how to? Come visit me at McINTOSH & Co.

If you liked the Recruitment Process Cartoon, you can access the PDF & PPT version here.