By Cheryl Stein
Monster Business Coach
I have heard horror stories from countless clients about experiences they have had going on interviews. Sitting across the room from stern faces, many people have been subjected to questioning that is part inquisition and part interrogation. Others have been made to wait, or have been asked ludicrous questions designed to throw them off their guard.
I often wonder if these companies take the time to consider that this first impression is the most important impression that they can make on potential employees.
The interview should tell a candidate everything she needs to know about a company. It is like the prospective employee’s window into its soul. If she is treated well, she is likely to think good things. If she gets a bad feeling, and she has options, she will run for the hills.
Gone are the days of the big powerful company thinking that they are in the driver’s seat during the interview.
What Smart Companies Know
Smart companies know that to get the best people working for them, the interview needs to be about selling the prospective candidate on a value proposition, in conjunction with learning if the interviewee is the best person for the job.
Value comes in different forms. There is the value from the money and benefits that can be earned from doing the job and there is value from the way a person will feel about going to work.
Great candidates are looking for both and will often walk away from material gain if the vibe they get from a company is not good. The greatest talent is going to look for a company that is going to fit with their values, a company that will make them want to get up in the morning and go to work.
Smart Companies Want to Know the Candidate
According to Christine Wolff, VP of Talent Engagement at Dimension Data, an international company that provides IT services and solutions, the interview process should be all about the right fit, and that fit can only happen if you take the time to learn about your interviewee. “One of our company’s greatest assets is how much we care about finding the right fit for job candidates. We challenge our interviewers to really learn about the candidate. If they are a runner, we want to know if they like doing marathons or sprints. That kind of information can help us place people in the right roles, ones that they are going to thrive in.”
Dimension Data makes sure to get back to candidates quickly, never wanting someone with high potential to languish waiting to hear back. It is this clear respect for the applicant that makes this company feel like a great place to work for the potential employee and it is this type of behavior that adds value to the job.
The trouble with this kind of interviewing is that it takes way more time than the traditional “scare them to death” kind of questioning that companies have used in the past. Interestingly, we expect our job candidates to come into an interview having done some background work on our company. We want them to know who we are and what we are all about. We ask them questions looking to see if they have taken the time to do their research and have invested in us, but we often don’t invest the time in learning about them.
A great interview is one that focuses on learning about the candidate’s qualities and learning what makes them tick. When we take the time to do this, it gives us insights into how the person will do in our organization. Showing potential candidates that we add value to their work experience by making sure that they fit and will do well, is well worth the effort.
Jamie Schneiderman of Clearfit.com thinks his company might have found a solution to the problem of lengthy behavioral interviews with multiple job candidates. Clearfit designed an online survey that you can have all your employees take. This data gets compiled into a “clear fit” profile, an analysis of what people in your company are like.
Prospective candidates can then take the test and if the answers add up, you end up with a short list of people who are worth taking the time to get to know because they seem very much like the people that you already have. “It is a great tool to let prospective employees know that their profile looks very much like the profile of the best people in the company. This kind of information helps a person know that they will succeed in that company, not just earn a lot of money.”
4 Tips to Implement in Your Interviewing Process
1. Really read the resume
When you read a great candidate’s resume, don’t just look for things that they have done that make them seem like they will do the job well. Look for information that can start a conversation:
What do they like to do for fun?
What have they achieved?
Is there something unusual that they have done?
Showing a candidate that you have taken the time to learn about them will put them at ease and help them open up.
2. Get into their heads
During the interview, use the information that you have to try to get a real understanding for who these people are.
Ask them about their hobbies, and about their life outside work. Find out what motivates them, and what makes them feel successful. If you are truly interested your authenticity will allow people to feel comfortable. This will create the conditions for them to open up to you in ways that fear and intimidation can never achieve.
3. Be open and honest
There isn’t anything that people appreciate more in the interview process than transparency. If you are open and honest, you will create a perception of your company that is priceless. Being transparent makes you seem like you value people and respect them enough to give them information.
4. Don’t leave people hanging
It is terribly unfair to make people wait in anticipation for too long. Get back to people quickly and your company will have a great reputation for the way it treats people.
Image isn’t just about selling a product. Image is also about selling your company so that the best people will want to work for you. Scaring the pants off a person in an interview does not convey the image that you care about people. It sends out the message that people aren’t really that valuable. The best candidates are going to gravitate towards companies that feel good to work for, and places where they know they will succeed and thrive. The interview is your company’s first impression. Make the most of it.
Cheryl Stein is an Associate Certified Coach, a credential that is designated by the International Coach Federation. For more information, visit Stein Consulting and Coaching