Why Phone Calls Are Better Than Emails

Recently, we talked to you about engaging unicorns – also known as the candidates that are so well qualified for a job, you want – no, need – them to succeed because it would be a great outcome for your hiring manager as well as for the candidate! There are only so many Devils Hole Pupfishes out there (it’s the rarest fish in the world. Trust me, I googled it).

There are so many ways to be in touch with a candidate… Social media, Whatsapp, face to face… but two of the most common ways are email and phone calls. Two methods of communication to have a closer look at. But before we begin, let me paint you a picture… 

The example – email

Email window with text for an email

E-mail window with message in it



E-mail window with message in it

E-mail window with message in it


E-mail window with message in it

E-mail window with message in it

Email vs phone calls

Don’t you hate it when those unicorns get away? When you have prepped them, kept them engaged and went head to head with the hiring manager to get the best possible offer, but they just… accept another one?!

There are many things that could influence a decision like that, but you are in the center of it all. More specifically, the way you communicate with your candidate is. And the goal of this blog is to show you that maybe… email is rarely the best method of communication. 

Not to mention the fact that if you just email with a candidate, maybe you won’t even know it’s a unicorn until it’s too late. 

When sending an email, so much gets lost in translation. There are no follow-up questions, there is no intonation, and the candidate can even decide not to answer a question at all. Plus, people are just plain short in emails sometimes! It’s very hard to influence this way because you are sending information without seeing or hearing the response to what you’ve said. 

Of course in these example emails, there is so much to unpack. There are many things that could be improved upon – I dare you to name a few in the comments!

We all know exaggeration is an art. When you see the next transcript of a fictional phone call, I’m sure you could easily pinpoint a few of the differences. 

The example – phone

Recruiter: Unicooooorn, how is it going?
Unicorn: I’m good. Still reeling from the interview this morning. 
Recruiter: Tell me, how did it go? 
Unicorn: I think it went well. I was a bit nervous so I felt myself blabbing a little at times, but I got my points across. 
Recruiter: Yes, actually they mentioned that too, but with nerves it’s understandable of course. Something to maybe pay extra close attention to next time. They also said they really liked your take on their way of working and they were blown away by all the experience you have. They would like to schedule a second interview. How are you feeling about it all?
Unicorn: Good, I guess. I like the company a lot, and the atmosphere is amazing, really friendly and open. 
Recruiter: What hesitations do you have currently, if any?
Unicorn: Actually, I’m not quite sure if they would be open to my development path to become a team lead. 
Recruiter: Hmm, did you ask?
Unicorn: No, not yet. But they mostly focused on how to progress towards being a senior developer. 
Recruiter: I’m glad you mentioned it, I’d highly recommend bringing it up in the next interview. A company should fit you just as well as you should fit them. What I know about the team so far, this is probably an option, but they do need to know. 
Unicorn: All right, I will discuss it during the next interview. Which will be… when?
Recruiter: How is Friday afternoon?
Unicorn: Perfect, I’m available. Anything I need to know or do to prepare?
Recruiter: Most likely they will want to discuss how you see the future of the product. And they will probably dive into your technical skills a bit more too, just to make sure you have everything they need in their team. It would also provide a basis for deciding a salary. The company really values fairness, so if they make an offer, they want it to be in line with the rest of the team. Speaking of salary, you mentioned an expectation of 55k, is that still the case?
Unicorn: Well, based on the information I have now, I would very much prefer 60k. 
Recruiter: Hm, I have to say that is a bit of a senior salary. What some companies do is they offer a fair salary for a medior, but both parties agree to re-evaluate after a year, when you are maybe more ready to take on senior tasks too. Just something to keep in mind.  
Unicorn: Yes, that makes sense. 
Recruiter: You mentioned you were also in the process with two other companies at the moment. How is it going there?
Unicorn: I dropped out of one but the other one looks quite promising as well. I’ll have the next interview this week.
Recruiter: Very exciting! Good luck on Friday, call me if you need anything. I will send you all the details by mail. 

Recruiter: Unicorn, what's up? How was your second interview?
Unicorn: I’m good, it went well, I think. They didn’t ask anything I didn’t know and we had a nice talk about the product. 
Recruiter: That’s great! And did you have all your questions answered? 
Unicorn: Yeah, so they help everyone with a development plan and when I said I aspired to being a team lead, they came across as very encouraging. That was nice. 
Recruiter: Yes, they find it very important that everyone feels like they are learning something new and working towards a goal, so I’m not surprised at all. 
Unicorn: Yes, so I’m excited. Did they give you feedback already?
Recruiter: No, you know what? I think that will probably not happen until Monday, but I just wanted to quickly call you before the weekend to hear how everything was. 
Unicorn: Thanks for that. 
Recruiter: So, tell me. If on Monday I call you and tell you they want to make you an offer of 53k, would you accept? 
Unicorn: Uh, well… I’m not sure. I am still in the process with another company too and I guess it depends on what they would offer. 
Recruiter: That makes sense. So they are also into your idea of becoming a team lead?
Unicorn: I’m not sure, they didn’t really give me a clear answer on that. 
Recruiter: Alright, alright. I really appreciate keeping me updated about that. Have a great weekend, Unicorn. I will talk to you on Monday.
Recruiter: Unicooooorn! How was your weekend? Did you do anything fun?
Unicorn: Hi! I had a birthday party for my best friend, we had a great time. 
Recruiter: Can’t go wrong with birthdays. So, Unicorn, guess what?
Unicorn: They rejected me?
Recruiter: Ha, you jokester. No, they want to make you an offer. Congratulations! I was totally rooting for you and you pulled through. You already mentioned you’d like a salary of 55k and were a bit hesitant about 53k, but I gave it my all and got you an offer of 57k! How about that?
Unicorn: That is great, wow. That is more than I was expecting for sure. 
Recruiter: I aim to please. I will send you all the details and secondary benefits by mail, but what are you thinking right now?
Unicorn: That I will probably reject the other offer…
Recruiter: Unicorn, my friend. That would be a fine choice. Take today and tomorrow, think it all through. Call me with any questions and if you do decide your future lies with us, we would love to receive a reply to the offer email. 
Unicorn: Thanks, Recruiter. You know, I really appreciate you being there every step of the way, I really felt your involvement and I have to say, it’s not often like that. 
Recruiter: Thanks for saying that, man. I’m so happy for you. Now go celebrate and we’ll talk soon!

Set yourself apart

In this exchange, you will see a lot of things that are done differently than in the email, but the point, of course, is that you couldn’t do half of these things properly via email. Most people will probably use both, but with this blog, I would like to inspire you to stick to logistics when emailing and have the real conversation over the phone. 

It’s subtleties that are going to set you apart from the other recruiters fishing for the same Devils Hole Pupfish (you verified this by now, right?). Your candidates are people with wants and needs that they maybe won’t just put out there. Talking to them face to face, or on the phone, having several conversations is the best way to get to know them. And in the end, it will help you to become a unicorn recruiter AND a recruitment unicorn!

A unicorn with a rainbow

By: Sanne Hillemans – Talent Hacker