Differentiate your company with a candidate-centric approach to interviews

Differentiate your company with a candidate-centric approach to interviews

In a market suffering from a skills shortage, companies competing for software skills need to think about how to separate themselves among potential candidates. To differentiate your company amidst a skills shortage, start to treat the interview as an opportunity to let potential candidates experience your culture.

One way to do this is by positioning your company as an employer of choice. Often, the difference between a successful business and a very successful business is the vision to treat its candidates the way it treats its employees.

Feeding frenzy

Due to stiff market competition, employers are interviewing at an incredible rate, meaning the company encounters potential candidates daily. But, because the race is on to find the best skills and eliminate unsuccessful candidates, companies take a pragmatic approach to interviews and fail to recognise the brand-building opportunity an interview can provide.

We don’t often think about an interview from a candidate’s perspective: It’s a stressful time. Companies usually treat the interview as a process. But despite all the noise and rationale around customer-centricity, few companies have considered building an interview process that is candidate-centric.

Afterall, culture is not defined from when someone joins your organisation, but from when they first interact with it.

In their shoes

A candidate-centric interview would mean understanding what the candidate needs from the potential employer to make them feel like they have had a rounded and fulfilling experience, no matter what the outcome.

So, while there are some basic interview faux pas that no one should rely on, such as smart software algorithms to narrow down the top candidates or the CV itself (you’re not trying to hire the best writers), there are also several game-changers that could separate your business from the crowd:

1. First impressions count

Consider that an experience of your culture can begin at your office’s reception. A culture is not a list of values that hangs on the wall; it’s something that each employee lives and breathes. Therefore, the first interaction a candidate has with brand – that is, with the company receptionist – should reflect your culture. Was she friendly? Did she make the candidate feel comfortable? Was she expecting the candidate?

These small engagements can give an immediate impression of the company and put the candidate at ease during what is often a nerve-wracking time.

2. Break with interview tradition

Find creative ways to interview people. Often, it’s only in relaxed situations that you can pinpoint a person’s attitude, ambitions and drive. Consider a 15-minute Skype conversation, a hackathon or a speed-dating session. And vary the opportunities to interact with people: some people are better in one-on-one environments but, despite their quiet dispositions, can be little packages of dynamite.

Remember that your offer might not be the only one a candidate gets. The interview may be their only experience of your company and, therefore, could seal the deal when they are considering competing offers.

3. Courtesy goes a long way

The interview experience should not be drawn out. Make decisions quickly but be considerate and respectful of your candidate. That means providing direct, constructive and personal feedback. Generic template rejections are impersonal and can leave the candidate feeling anonymous to your organisation, even though they may have put their best foot forward.

Mapping the candidate journey

So, what can companies do to turn an interview process into a candidate-centric brand experience?

One tactic that companies can introduce to help ensure an interview experience to surpass all others, is by outlining a candidate journey map.

Creating a candidate journey map considers the experience of the interviewee throughout the interview process and aims to understand their feelings at each stage.

This includes:

  • The interactions a candidate will have
  • The emotions they may feel during these phases
  • The impressions that may be created

Analysing their step-by-step journey more closely can help you understand the candidate’s experience of your company and culture. After all, workplace dynamics are shifting and culture is more important than ever. Great offers can be turned down by great candidates if their experience of your brand is poor.

Companies should remember that each interview is the beginning of a business relationship. Even if the candidate is unsuccessful on this occasion, he or she might be a potential brand ambassador. The future network advantages can be extensive, including referrals to other potential candidates, future clients or strategic business introductions.

So, consider the last candidate who walked through your door. Did they have an experience that they will want to share?

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