While a few companies leave candidates with a wonderful sense that they are one of the best companies on the planet to work for, for most companies, it’s time to crank up the volume and separate yourself from the crowd. The great news is much, if not all, of this is in your control and free. You don’t need glamorous buildings and fabulous chefs on site (though that certainly doesn’t hurt!). If you want to win in attracting talent, excel at the basics while adding ‘X Factor’ moments to create a great experience for your candidates.
Brand and Messaging – Dial it Up!
Define what maters – brand, vision, impact. Candidates want to know what your company stands for, why you’re better than the rest, and the impact they can make on the organization. Ensure message consistency between all who interact, and utilize effective social media tools.
- Brand Consistency. From job descriptions, to career pages on your company website to the actual interview, nothing confuses a candidate more than inconsistencies between these. Every interaction with a candidate is an opportunity to sell your brand – be consistent about it and make it count.
- Be Visible. Use effective social media tools such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook to make you, and your company, visible. If you want to be really creative, consider posting a recruiting video on YouTube or experiment with job casting.
- Beware the Negative. Search Google and Glass Door to see what’s being said about you, and your company – candidates certainly will.
- Make it Relevant. Candidates are evaluating what you have to offer them, so speak to what’s important. What impact does the role have in the organization? How will it challenge and engage them? How does it meet their career goals? What other opportunities could it lead to?
The Interview – Orchestrate Everything!
It’s like planning a wonderful cocktail party. Bookend the candidate’s time with a gracious open and close to convey a sense of welcome and warmth. Create opportunities to interact with the product and team members. Be selective about who interviews — ensure they are prepared, compelling and don’t overlap. Finally, candidates like to be prepared, so minimize surprises.
- Be selective. Make sure the interview team has the time, the right attitude, style, and skills to participate in the process. Most negative impressions come from having the wrong people involved in the process.
- First Impression. Provide candidates with an ‘interview packet’ – a warm welcome, driving directions, schedule, and bios of interview team before they arrive. It sets the tone and telegraphs to candidates you’re prepared for them.
- Hello & Goodbye. A gracious reception with a preprinted badge by an assigned greeter facilitates getting started on time and no lost candidates in the lobby. Don’t leave them to find the exit after the final interview. Escort them to the lobby with a proper goodbye.
- Engage with the Product. Handling the merchandise or receiving a product overview is an effective way to captivate candidates, especially if a new product is about to hit the shelves or a new service to go live.
- Take a Time Out. Organize the interview so that the candidate has 15-20 minutes of ‘down time’ to regroup, check mail, etc., especially if it’s a full day session.
- Minimize Surprises. Things go wrong – you’re running late, a member of interview team is out sick, etc., so have a backup plan. It makes a bad impression when people are pulled at the last minute and candidates are left hanging.
- Discuss Perks. Candidates will downplay it, but understanding the perks and benefits matter. Skip what’s given, e.g. casual dress in Silicon Valley, they want to know about healthcare, cell phone, internet, flex hours and time off.
The X Factor – Stand Out!
What is often overlooked makes a HUGE impact on candidates, so do the unexpected. Give a quick tour, arrange a surprise guest, pop into the company store, allow some group interaction – even if it’s a quick introduction, send them away with a goodie bag, or pick up the phone later to thank them for coming in.
- Give a Tour. Candidates are curious about the work environment. A quick tour is an easy way of saying you’re happy to have them on site while giving them the opportunity to get a feel for the place.
- Arrange Surprise Guest. Nothing excites candidates more than executive attention – for example a quick drop in & handshake by the CEO, CTO or VP.
- Allow Group Interaction. Candidates want to know who they will be working with. Inviting team members to engage with them, even for a quick introduction, makes candidates feel at home.
- Gift bag. Put together a simple ‘take away’ – perhaps a company logo’d water bottle, mug, t-shirt or a token gift certificate to the website.
- Pick up the phone. If you want them, a quick thank you call from the hiring manager is unexpected and stands out to candidates.
- Thank you email. The candidate probably took a day off; tying out with them and providing clarity on next steps is always welcomed.
So much of this feels like common sense, and it is if you are welcoming folks to your house for a celebration. But somehow, the details of what makes an event, and that is exactly what an interview is to a candidate, warm and compelling can get dropped in the florescent lights of an office.