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Treating candidates as customers at Lane Crawford



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The prevalence of social media and online forums signifies that candidates are no longer afraid to speak out about their interview experiences. A few words or a paragraph, positive or obstructive, might cause a butterfly effect that ripples outward to the world. Research has also shown the majority of people joined a company for their culture.

Lane Crawford’s Graduate Leader Recruitment Programme was refined in 2018 in a bid to create an engaging candidate experience and align the recruitment campaign to its brand image. The programme was awarded bronze for Best Candidate Experience–Corporate HR Team at the Asia Recruitment Awards Hong Kong 2019.

The six-step selection process – first screen, second screen, telephone interview, online Hogan assessment, group interview, and assessment centre activities –reaffirms Lane Crawford’s commitment to identify and nurture the best young talent in three business streams: product, retail, and enterprise.

“Ultimately, we are trying to give our candidate an experience that replicates our customer experience – inspired, cherished, and unique,” said Alison Mclaughlin, project consultant, human resources, at Lane Crawford.

While an activity-based experience is often the spotlight of an excellent candidate experience, Lane Crawford stresses the importance of getting to the heart of fresh graduates’ long-term needs. Applicants who come straight from university do not have much full-time working experience. They typically pick their first job based on their university major or internship. While the first job does not guarantee the future, it definitely holds a crucial role on one’s perspective on his or her career journey.

“If graduates’ first employer demonstrates due diligence and commitment and helps fresh graduates choose the right job for their future career, most graduates appreciate that,” Mclaughlin said.

In lieu of artificial intelligence, a personal touch is emphasized in Lane Crawford’s graduate leader recruitment programme. At an early stage, after verifying the application, the human resources team explains what each business stream means and makes sure the candidate is on the right track via telephone. The shortlisted candidates will then complete the Hogan assessment online, a useful measure of the candidate’s personality, and an effective way of putting candidates’ strengths to good use.

During this five-month period, candidates are asked to give feedback frequently, and for the finalists who have the chance to visit the final assessment centre, they are invited to fill in a “thank you and farewell” card at the end.

When it comes to the first job, comprehension of the employer is on par with complete understanding of the job function. As a global luxury fashion, beauty and lifestyle department store, Lane Crawford aims to curate a global luxury shopping experience while building a better and sustainable future. It is incumbent upon Lane Crawford employee to express some interest towards luxury fashion and put themselves into the end-users/customers’ shoes– the desire to feel inspired, cherished and unique.

Prior to the final interview, all finalists are invited to go to the assessment centre at Lane Crawford’s head office to get a glimpse at what it’s like to work there. On that day, Lane Crawford runs six high-energy and engaging workshops that help them understand what Lane Crawford stands for and decide whether they would like to work for the brand. For example: Similar to the popular American reality television series Project Runway, finalists are asked to design an outfit and present it on the catwalk; or the candidates are invited to present their observations and experiences as a potential customer at bricks-and-mortar and online stores.

One of the most popular activities reflected in candidates’ feedback is Speed Matching, an activity based on the speed-dating concept. Every two minutes, a finalist answers a question from the senior leader sitting opposite. When the bell rings, he or she switches to the next seat and speaks to another leader until he or she meets the entire senior management team.

“Many graduates find the opportunity precious as they get to interact with people who play different parts in the business, apart from the human resources team,” Mclaughlin said.

“It’s our aspiration that our recruitment activities give our candidates a sense of what it’s like working here and what our expectations are. At the end of the day, everyone who works for us touches our customers in some ways so we want to make the candidates feel like a customer and make them feel as great as our customers.”

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