As a business owner, hiring manager, or anyone else tasked with bringing on a new employee, it's always crucial to provide the best candidate experience possible. Someone's experience interviewing with your company can reflect well (or not so well) on your brand as a whole.
Heading into 2020, with the U.S. unemployment rate as low as it's been in 50 years, this is even more true. Though American businesses continue to add jobs, talent squeeze--the inability to hire and retain great workers, especially in management and leadership--is always a concern.
When interviewing candidates for new roles, you need to make sure you're always putting your best foot forward. As much as you are interviewing a candidate, that candidate is interviewing you--and deciding whether to move forward or look elsewhere for a better fit.
While the goal, then, isn't to present a false picture of your company and culture, it is important to find ways to appeal to talented people who you feel can make an impact on your business.
Here are five tips for impressing candidates during an interview:
Come prepared to discuss their background.
The best interviews--in any context--happen when the interviewer knows enough about the subject that they can use the time constructively, discussing important issues and deeper material. If you're only familiar with a candidate's name, or the basics of what's written on their resume, you'll both spend more time learning the basics about the other.
While you can't control how much a candidate knows about your company, you can take the time to learn about your candidate. It's easier than ever--thanks to social media platforms like LinkedIn in particular--to learn what makes this person tick. You can review past published work, appearances, awards, and anything else that not only tells you what you need to know about a candidate, but also what you need to know more about.
Make them feel welcome and valued.
Don't let an interview feel like a transactional experience. When your candidate visits the office, take the time to show them around the space that could end up being their professional home for the foreseeable future. Introduce them to different members of their future team, emphasizing to those team members beforehand how important candidate experience is to the company's success.
If a candidate is visiting from outside your market, little touches like welcome baskets delivered upon arrival at their hotel, or time spent visiting local sites with them (even if it's just the local coffee spot) will color their experience for the better.
Don't just stick to your script.
It's good to come prepared with background information about a candidate and questions that you'd like to know the answers to. What isn't good is insisting on adhering to your script to the point that you don't engage with what the candidate is saying.
Listen when a candidate speaks. Understand what they're telling you--especially what they're looking for and what they want to accomplish. Your on-the-spot responses will show that you're interested in what they have to say, as both a professional and a human.
Identify what they're looking for--and how they can find it.
Different candidates are looking for different things when taking the next step in their career, and what's very important to one candidate might not matter to another. It could be a culture change, the opportunity to take on certain responsibilities, or building out a particular function.
Once you identify those areas of focus, see how your company aligns with that vision and what parts of working for your business will help them achieve their goals. Then discuss those alignments openly.
This is not about adapting or changing the role to suit the candidate, but highlighting what will be beneficial to them about working with you.
If it doesn't work now, keep in touch.
An interview experience doesn't necessarily end the moment a candidate walks out the door. If an open role and a qualified candidate don't match at this moment (whether you or the candidate decide that's the case), that doesn't mean they won't match at some point in the future. Or that another, better-suited opportunity within your organization won't arise down the road.
Keep in touch with the candidates that make an impression on you. There have been times for us when the pursuit of a candidate for a role lasted not weeks, not months, but the better part of a year. Be patient and recognize that your persistence will pay off if the time and situation are right.
Following these tips won't guarantee that you hire every talented person that crosses your path. But impressed candidates will be much more likely to recommend you to other prospects, become a customer, or even return for another interview down the road.