Tag Archives: Employer branding

8 ways companies can put the “inter” back in interview

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.

Is your company struggling with your candidates’ experiences? Check out services and training to create a strong employer brand

How to put the “inter” back into interview:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Preparation – everyone from the receptionist to the hiring manager should be aware of the brand image that they convey and should be well prepared
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. Interaction –  should be timely, effective, professional.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.

The candidate journey and employer brand

Employer brand

Much time is spent encouraging and coaching candidates to create and present a Personal Brand to make the right impression on potential employers. But many organisations are not as in touch as they should be with their employer brands. By that I mean how they are perceived not just by current employees, but by prospective candidates.  For many the concept of employer branding is some part of a passing social media fad which will be replaced by the next fashionable trend within weeks.  To others it’s the domain of large conglomerates with massive budgets.

But like it or not all organisations have employer brands. They just don’t realise it or even know what their brand is. Very often leadership teams scratch their heads in wonder when their company fails to attract the best talent,  blissfully unaware that their brand has tanked to all time lows.

One thing for sure is that the concept of an employer brand is definitely not a fad. It will not go away and 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.

Flexing brand muscles

Today any news travel fast, but bad news travels faster.  Online research allows all information to circulate with speed and unfettered. Poor employee and candidate experiences do the rounds at high velocity. So when  employees complain about long hours, salary issues, lack of strategy, unfilled vacancies, not being able to take vacations, reduced perks and poor leadership, it’s not a case of “if” these problems seep onto the wider market – but when.

Only 13% of employees are reported to be engaged at work. The much touted war for talent is seemingly on the horizon as we move into recovery. More than 66% of employees are categorized as actively passive (executive search speak for open to the right offer!) creating a strong and appealing employer brand is critical in today’s market to maximise a talent management strategy.

Damien told me yesterday that he had been contacted by a recruiter earlier this week.  The consultant made five sloppy mistakes that left him feeling uncertain if he wanted to proceed: he was late for the telephone interview,  he did not send the necessary job profile beforehand as promised,  he called via a VOIP platform where the connection was so poor he couldn’t understand what was being said and  then did not follow-up promptly with paperwork. An interview proposed on the phone has not been confirmed in writing. He has now filled his afternoon.

These are small things,  but cumulatively they become compounded to form an overall negative impression, especially when the competitor’s hiring team is on the ball.

Candidate experience

The candidate journey should be a seamless and incremental process where he/she becomes familiar with the organisation  to such and extent that they are so highly motivated that they are ready and waiting with pen at the ready to sign a contract shortly after receipt of a written offer. Every level of engagement should be “on brand” and convey the essential message of the core values of the organisation.

Is your company struggling with your candidates’ experiences? Check out services and training to create a strong employer brand 

This brand plays an integral role at every stage in the candidate development process and should be firmly embedded for maximum success across every intersection of interaction:

  • Website – easily navigable and informative giving clarity and consistency to the brand image and core corporate values. This is  usually the first point of contact and can “make or break” at this stage.
  • Use of technology –  text, social media invaluable for entry-level recruitment particularly.
  • Application process –   user-friendly and simple to follow with numerous possibilities to save information and modify afterwards
  • Communication  – timely, positive, effective for keeping the candidate warm.
  • Screening –  thorough, professional, open
  • Interview  – everyone from the receptionist to the hiring manager should be aware of the brand image to convey
  • Interaction  – timely, effective, professional
  • Offer –  uncomplicated, ethical and transparent
  • Rejection – empathetic and encouraging paving a way for the future
  • Welcome pack and induction instructions should be clear, informative and motivating
  • Onboarding support – to achieve a seamless transition

The 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.

It’s time for many companies to  go through a thorough self-assessment to establish what shape their employer brand muscles are in.

Employers – are YOU interview ready?

Although top-level  candidates are investing increasingly in their employee brands and interview readiness, I’ve heard many stories that would suggest that some organisations are  getting complacent.  Mistakenly they believe that either being a good manager  automatically makes them good interviewers,  or with the market awash with candidates they don’t have to make an effort. They have basically let their interview readiness slip.

So for many companies it is perhaps time to carry out an audit of  interview processes:

  •  Have priorities been set and agreed?   It’s no good labelling the process urgent if the interviewers have operational commitments  (year-end closure, sales conference etc) within that timescale and have no availability. If they are called away unexpectedly –  who is the number 2?
  • Empower the interviewer  – ensure that at least one player in the process is authorised to make the hiring decision.  Delays for rubber stamping higher up the organisation chart increases the chance of  top candidates being snapped up by other companies or being able to leverage their situation with their current employer in the hope of a counter offer.
  • Timely, clear and courteous communication by all company members to create the best possible impression. Candidates lose interest if the process is unnecessarily extended and they are not kept in the loop.  They should be treated  immediately and correctly by all involved in the process, even secretaries and receptionists.
  • Avoid ” trial by interview”:   Candidates withdraw if they are called back multiple times to talk to different managers involved in the process, only to be asked the same questions by each. For many this will mean taking several days vacation and could jeopardise their  position with their current employer.
  • Environment  – candidates should be interviewed in a location that is appropriate for the position. They will notice if the office is untidy, the furniture old and scruffy, the computers outdated and the bathrooms inadequate.  Be mindful that small things send out big messages.
  • Professional grooming:  Interviewers should be appropriately  groomed for the sector.
  • Inappropriate or discourteous treatment: I have seen interviewers cancel appointments with 30 minutes notice,  take telephone calls during the interview,  invite candidates for dates,  raise their voices at them,  be fuzzy and unprepared about their own opening, with no job profile to hand and not having given the CV an even cursory glance,  forgetting the candidate’s name. I could go on!  This creates a bad impression.
  • Careless talk   – casual throw away remarks particularly around work/ life balance, corporate values,  management style, career development and salary structure can also cause concern. Just as employers would expect candidates to be well rehearsed with their responses , employers also have to be mindful of the fall out of ill-considered statements. Body language is also important.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1dWMIuipn_c]

  • Inappropriate or even illegal questions.   The widely publicised need for political correctness seems to have passed many by, especially when  interviewing women.
  • Time wasting  – searches are quite often conducted externally to benchmark internal candidates. If any process is for form’s sake only,  be mindful to keep the time demanded of candidates to a minimum.
  • Record keeping. It’s important to keep neutral and factual notes of all candidates seen in the process, even ones who don’t make the cut. You may want to call them back  at some time in the future. Research carried out by Start Wire suggests that only 33% of Fortune 500 companies  are willing to give feedback despite evidence that failure to do so  damages not just their employer brand but their product branding as well.

 Many companies assume that people skills come naturally and interviewing is only about ” having a chat”  with a candidate. Clearly personal chemistry is important,  but  sadly some interviewers have been found lacking, with not even minimal investment in  basic training.

In this case success isn’t just about showing up!

Damage to an employer brand in today’s hi-tech culture  is only one click away. Word does get round professional bodies, alumni associations and the market sector.

If any of this sounds cringingly familiar – now is the time to do an audit.