World class branding from a job interview


We wrote an article recently highlighting the interview process from a candidate’s perspective. It has obviously struck a chord as we’ve had an avalanche of comments from people who identify with the sentiments.

So here’s one of our best examples of a hiring leader who gets it right, every time.

We’ll call him G, and we’ve been his sourcing and screening partner for many years. We have even co-interviewed with him so have observed his techniques first hand. 

He starts his candidate interview meeting by giving an overview of the company – product lines, revenues, headcount, immediate business priorities and challenges. He then moves onto an overview of his team, reporting lines, strategic and operational priorities and challenges.   And then he highlights the scope of the role being hired for and what skills are particularly important to him. He is incredibly transparent about any issues being faced.

Setting the scene like this gives the candidate some context to the bigger picture. Candidates immediately buy-in to the credibility and knowledge of G because of the detail he shares. They feel like they are being setup to succeed in the interview and this, combined with G doing all the initial talking helps settle any candidate interview nerves.

10 minutes in and G is ready to start his questions. Note that timing. Too many hiring leaders wind up talking for most of the candidate meeting and are then bemused as to why they know nothing about the candidate. And the candidate feels cheated of their chance to “shine” and views the hiring leader as self-absorbed.

Interestingly, G chooses to ask only 5 well thought out scenario questions. He takes the view that he’d rather deeply understand how a candidate has/would handle a particular situation, than try and cover too many competencies on a superficial basis. He focusses only on the skills that are absolutely critical to the role being hired for. The quality of his simple questions allows candidates to demonstrate multiple competencies within their answers and G rightly figures that anything missed can be covered by other people involved in the hiring process.

(A tip if you’re planning multi stage interviews - one of the biggest frustrations of any candidate is being asked the same questions over and over again by different people in the organisation. The candidate will think you don’t trust them, are trying to catch them out, your leaders don’t share information and/or your company is disorganised)

Now, here’s where G really stands out. If the candidate goes off track, G is more than happy to step in and get the candidate back on course. If they give too little information G will keep asking questions to extract what he needs. And if they give too much information G will coach them on what is really relevant to him, which allows the candidate to understand his thinking and deliver a snappier answer to the next question.

Again, candidates feel like he wants them to succeed rather than setting them up to fail. 

G gives candidates the chance to ask their questions at the end of the meeting, and lets them know the timing for any next steps and when they can expect feedback given he likes to reflect after every meeting.  He shares something positive from the meeting, and often provides some unsolicited advice on where a candidate could develop their career and/or technical knowledge.

The result – a simply fantastic candidate experience.  Whilst they don’t know yet know whether they’re progressing or not they feel like they’ve been treated fairly and with professional respect.

They view his interview style as synonymous with his leadership style and they want to work with him. (There have been no exceptions in the 8 years we’ve partnered with this leader) 

Interestingly, they see him as representative of the company culture and they want to be a part of it.

Finally, G does reflect and provides detailed and balanced feedback within 12 hours of every meeting, and sometimes earlier.  Regardless of the outcome, candidates just love the simple courtesy of timeliness, decisiveness, and detailed reasoning.  Subsequently, they are vocal advocates of G and the company, even when they aren't being progressed for the hire.

G’s whole approach is a powerful exercise of positive branding, with no financial cost to the company.  We continue finding the very best candidates for G, because the strength of the candidate experience, unequivocally reinforces our own company brand and values. 

As a hiring leader do your sourcing partners have that same confidence in you or, as a recruiter do you have the same confidence in your clients?