Hiring is a two-way process, where you’re not just interviewing candidates – they’re interviewing you. Jacqui Barratt of font explains exactly why we call the battle for the best a “war on talent”.
You are sitting there with the job description in front of you, and your usual line of questioning. Then a smart, well-presented candidate walks in, and hits you with a question: “What happened to the last person in the role? What’s a typical day in this office?”
Good candidates know that hiring is a two-way process. Particularly in this market, where unemployment is a very low 2%, candidates have a lot of options.
In such a competitive market, it’s safe to assume your top candidates will be top candidates elsewhere. Hiring managers need to realise the candidate will be giving up a lot to take this job – a well-honed routine, relationships with clients or other stakeholders and a good track record of ‘stickability’.
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Interviewers have to be prepared to sell the role and the company just as much as candidates have to sell themselves. After all, we don’t call this a “war on talent” for nothing.
1. Be on time
Just as candidates are told they should be on time, so should the people interviewing the candidate. You should also look presentable, professional and genuinely excited to be hosting the interview.
2. Be prepared
Make sure you have studied the candidate’s resume and cover letter in detail to understand their motivations for putting themselves forward for the role. Try to show that just as they have been researching your company, you have spent as much time researching them, and the companies they have worked for.
3. Be interesting
A good candidate will ask what it’s like to work for the company. They’re not asking you to rattle off the company’s founding story and the employment package perks. They are looking to find out what makes employees excited about going to the office, and to be part of their team, every morning.
4. Avoid clichés
As the hiring manager, you set the first impression of the company, so if you ask predictable questions, such “where do you see yourself in five years” you are not creating a vibrant image for the brand. There are different ways of finding out the answer to these predictable questions, such as “what is the first thing you want to accomplish in this position”.
5. Know the role
Make sure you have a thorough understanding of the day-to-day of the role you are filling, why it is integral to the company, and what sort of character traits they are looking for to be the best they can be. Find out how success in the role will be measured and what some of the challenges the successful candidate will face in the position. This will help you both answer the candidate’s questions accurately, and ask mutually-beneficial questions.
6. Lay out a roadmap
Savvy candidates want to know where the role will take them, and what success in the role looks like. Make sure you can clearly outline the career development and learning opportunities the role presents, and both short and long-term targets the company would hope they would meet in the position.
7. Don’t leave them hanging
Not following up on an interview is just bad manners, plain and simple. Before a candidate leaves an interview, set realistic expectations of when you should have an answer, and then deliver on that, even if it’s to deliver bad news. I’ve heard of amazing candidates walking away from positions because of the slow HR process in a company, saying, “I’m sorry, but if this is any indication of the inability of this company to make decisions, I don’t want to work here.”
In such a competitive hiring market, recruiters and hiring managers need to work harder to attract the high-quality candidates, and to get talent excited about the brand.
The interviewer will in many cases provide the first and most powerful impression of a company – affecting not only the candidate’s decision about a role, but also their opinion of the brand as a future client or consumer. Hiring managers, you are now your brand’s sales person, so go out and close that deal.