Diffusing the “Shields-Up” Posture of Recruiting Prospects

by | Jan 5, 2021

Perhaps you remember the old Star Trek episodes where some unknown ship or life form is approaching the Starship Enterprise.

Spock and Mr. Sulu are desperately trying to figure out if this “thing” is a threat as the background music intensifies.

At just the last minute, Captain Kirk thunders out the order, “Shields up!” to protect the crew from an impending attack.

According to a group of Harvard researchers, humans do the exact same thing when they’re being approached by someone outside of their professional or social network.

They instinctively go into “shields-up” mode until they can determine if the person is safe.

Of course, your job as a hiring manager is to diffuse the perceived threat and get the person to lower their shields. Only then can meaningful dialog start to happen.

How do you do this? 

The researchers developed a relationship bias model that explained how individuals make judgments of other people and groups.

The model had two core trait dimensions and described how these judgments shape and motivate an individual’s social emotions, intentions, and behaviors.

In essence, they discovered what’s needed for someone to put their shields down and open a professional dialog.

What are the core traits?

Warmth: Can I trust you?

Competence: Can I respect you?

Your initial actions, behaviors, and questions must help your prospects quickly get answers to these critical questions.

Until they get these answers, the shields will remain up.


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