Securing the best talent through the interview process

Andrea McDonald - March 04, 2019

Delivering a great candidate experience during your interview process is a must to ensure you secure the best talent in the market. In fact, we have heard on many occasions that when candidates are choosing between job offers from two organisations, it has often been their experience from when they first engaged with the business, through to the offer being given, that played a large part in their decision-making process. Here are my top 5 tips on providing a better candidate experience than your competitors, to ensure you are securing the best people for your organisation.

1. Treat every candidate like you treat your customers

We are in the ‘age of the customer’ where we are all becoming accustomed to faster, more efficient and more personalised service than ever before. Your candidates are often your customers, and if they aren’t, they are still operating in this era and so expect high standards of service. No longer are you picking your employees, your employees are picking you!

The best organisations recognise that to be competitive for talent, they need to be ensuring their interview processes uphold the same customer standards you would expect today from one of your service providers. Imagine if you sent a request or called Telstra to enquire about moving your phone plan and you didn’t hear back for two weeks, or even worse, never heard back! Imagine if you sent through your new phone enquiry and they replied saying “if you don’t hear back from us assume you are not a worthwhile customer of ours.” Would they be someone you would choose to join? I would think not! But these are some of the standards we are seeing being applied in interview processes.

Think about what customers expect and apply them to your interview process. A few of those standards could include;

  • Responsive communication at all stages of the interview process- think how long would you be happy to wait to get a response as a customer that has made an enquiry?;
  • Flexibility to meet their individual needs- think how your process can cause the least disruption and show empathy for their busy lives;
  • Efficiency of process- there comes a point where a process is too long and can disengage a candidate;
  • Wow them! Think how you can stand apart from your competitors to really wow your candidates;
  • Measure your candidate experience- there are a range of ways to measure candidate satisfaction which is simple, cost-effective and insightful; and
  • Offer value even if a candidate isn’t successful. Some of the leading organisations are offering discounts to their service or product to unsuccessful candidates to say thank you for showing interest in the business.
  • 2. Make a great first impression

    First impressions count in the interview process and it can be very hard to claw yourself back from a poor first impression. Selling your organisation to a candidate starts with your first interaction and then a flow of many other ‘first impressions’ along the way. We live in a busy world where people subconsciously use stereotyping to speed up their decision-making processes, for example expensive = good. Their decisions may not be based on reality, but you have to avoid being eliminated as an option at the first contact, for example poor first impression = Bad organisation.

    Ensure that your first point of contact with a candidate is a great one. This could be prompt response to their application, warm greeting from reception on arrival to an interview and willingness to give time to help them learn more about the organisation. Work out where your first impressions may lie in the process and make them great.

    3. Know how to sell your role and organisation

    Gone are the days where the emphasis is placed on a candidate having to sell themselves to the organisation, the best talent has options, so it’s also equally important that organisations are selling themselves to candidates as well.

    When it’s done really well, organisations are aware of what the key selling points of the organisation are and all leaders involved in the hiring process consistently ‘sell’ those messages along the way.

    It helps to put your most passionate people in front of potential candidates. Energy attracts energy and candidates will buy into genuine passion for the organisation. At the very least it will be important to ensure that everyone in the hiring process understands that it’s a two way street and they are required to sell to the candidate as much as the candidate is required to sell to them, in fact more.

    4. Create a relationship

    We have heard before that people chose with their heart as much as their head. People want to know that coming into a new organisation, they’ll have strong relationships where they will be respected and enjoy high levels of trust from their leaders and colleagues. After all, you would hardly choose to start a relationship with someone if all your interactions during the courting process were poor. Treat the interview process in the same way.

    The foundations of all relationships are based on trust. With each interaction determine if your actions are trust building or trust eroding. This can be as easy as promptly responding to candidate applications in a respectful and valuable way, not keeping candidates waiting in interview rooms for long periods of time as the hiring manager is running late, giving feedback to candidates after their interview in a timely manner, providing some options for interview times as their time is just as valuable as yours.

    If you build trust and relationship through your interview process a candidate will choose your organisation every time over another that did not.

    5. Over communicate

    One of the most important keys to winning the best talent is to communicate, communicate, communicate! The best organisations map each critical point of communication in an interview process and set their service level agreement in terms of maximum lag time for communication. They decide what is the longest acceptable time for a candidate not to hear after key points such as their application, phone screen, interview, second interview, testing etc. They set their standards and stick to them.

    Again, it’s essential you put yourself in a customer mindset and determine what time is acceptable if you were waiting on a response from a popular service provider you interact with. Set that appropriate timeframe and then if you truly want to be the best at securing talent, shorten that timeframe to really wow!

    Good luck and I hope these tips are useful in helping you or your organisation convert the best talent in the market!

    u&u

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