True story: A soon-to-be Ph.D. in an in-demand tech field was recently interviewed for a summer job by two of the major West Coast-based international tech companies. Each hosts a large summer internship program as essentially a “road test” of skills sets. One of the companies was almost clinical in its recruitment approach, while the other was friendly and supportive of the process throughout. Which do you think was favored by the candidate?
In the current job market, most employers are increasingly competing for the same group of coveted candidates. Say your human resources team found some great candidates (on paper) through a diverse use of traditional and digital recruiting tools. You next may conduct a few timed telephone interview sessions that go well enough for you to invite some of them to your office area for in-person interviews. You pick a hiring team, plan carefully crafted questions that show you what the candidates are like beyond their obvious skills sets, and you are ready for the interviews. All of this takes valuable work time but is critical for a good hire.
Yet as in the tech company scenario, what’s often missing is the next step: the recognition that these days, hiring is a two-way street – once you select the best candidates, the hiring teams have an expanded, marketing-like role. Take a few minutes before interviews and essentially do a mini-marketing audit of your entire process for the recruitment.
You need to make each on-site candidate as interested in you and your organization as possible, and make sure your brand messages are expressed clearly. Upon their arrival, give the candidates a handout sheet with the names of their interviewers along with email addresses and titles for any follow-up questions they may have. Provide them with other relevant organizational print marketing materials along with appropriate human resources publications.
Hiring is not just about the salary package, although that is of course important, but you generally don’t discuss salary at the first interview anyway. Make sure the candidates get to interview you, too, so never cut off their questioning. Give candidates a clear timeline of your ongoing hiring process and follow-up with a “thank you for your visit” email – it’s not just for the interviewee to do anymore.
Manage your brand
Your human resources staff also needs to regularly track and actively manage your brand on hiring sites such as Glassdoor, where employees and even job candidates often review or write in comments. Candidates easily find an inside view of jobs and companies on a number of sites. Hopefully, the comments are positive. But even if the comments are negative, there is usually a means for the employer to respond. This response is valuable to managing your brand and reputation, and may help improve undesirable organizational practices. Additionally, be sure your website data is current – prospective employees will look for company profits, publications, events, etc. before they visit. Your brand and even culture should be conveyed on your site.
The candidate should be treated respectfully from the beginning and really, really, really want the job through the interview process. Why add the marketing focus to your recruiting efforts? This marketing mindset approach helps you later with effective negotiations, helps create an inspired person to “onboard” and is ultimately a satisfying use of the hiring team’s time.
Glenda LeGendre is principal of Strategic Marketing and Communications and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.