interview (n.) 1510s, “face-to-face meeting, formal conference,” from Middle French entrevue, verbal noun from s’entrevoir “to see each other, visit each other briefly, have a glimpse of,” from entre- “between” (see inter-) + Old French voir “to see” (from Latin videre;).
After six years of deep recession and demand driven hiring processes, interviews have been about candidates making super human efforts to make the cut. During this time we have let the notion of interviews being a two-way street be side lined. Candidates desperate to create the right impression repressed nagging concerns about hiring managers and some companies simply became complacent. What they forgot is this whole process to see “each other” is integral to their employer brand.
Many employers hope that the concept of an employer brand will go away. The reverse is probably true and it will become more important as economies move into recovery. Companies will need to start flexing those brand muscles to attract and retain the best talent for their organisations. A pristine employer brand will be key in any upcoming war for talent.
The interview process can be critical to building up or destroying any employer brand.
Flexing brand muscles
Bad news goes viral faster than Spanish Flu and poor candidate experiences do the rounds at high velocity. So when they complain about bad interviews, it’s not a case of “if” these problems seep onto the wider market – but when.
I hear candidate nightmares every week. None quite as bad as the classic Monty Python sketch with John Cleese. But some come close. They are mainly small things, but cumulatively they become compounded to form an overall negative impression, especially when the competitor’s hiring team is on point. Now, in an economic upturn candidates are starting to have choice.
Candidate interview experience
Companies pour millions into product marketing promotions but forget that every interface an outsider has with the company can strengthen the company and therefore product brand. In the recruitment process every level of engagement should be “on brand” and convey the essential message of the key values of the organisation. For many organisations it’s time to put the “inter” back into interview.
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How to put the “inter” back into interview:
- Communication – should be timely, positive and effective for keeping the candidate informed and motivated. Candidates say that the worst part of any process is no news.
- Screening – should be thorough, professional, open. Many companies cut corners on low quality VOIP platforms or hurried phone calls on mobile phones with poor signals.
- Preparation – everyone from the receptionist to the hiring manager should be aware of the brand image that they convey and should be well prepared
- Location – should be in an appropriate place where all parties can be focused. Interviews frequently take place in bars, restaurants, hotels, airport lounges. At some point they should be in the company’s offices with dedicated time
- Trained – all players in the process should be trained in interviewing and selection skills and have an assigned role in the process. Avoiding duplication of interviews and keeping the number of interviews to a reasonable level is also key. Anything more than four or five and the decision-making process of the hiring company is called into question
- Interaction – should be timely, effective, professional.
- Use of technology – should be demographic appropriate. Text and social media can be invaluable for entry-level recruitment particularly – perhaps less so with other generations.
- Rejection – should be empathetic and encouraging paving a way for the future. Unsuccessful candidates can be turned into top brand evangelists if they sing a company’s praises even after being rejected.
An employer brand is intrinsic to the whole spectrum of the recruitment process. It is not just about what companies do that sends resonating messages, but what they fail to that will set warning bells clanging.
As economies show signs of recovery, it could be time for many companies to go through a thorough self-assessment to establish the condition of their employer brands and to remember the “inter” in interview.