The morning of the interview, and there’s a mix of nerves and excitement in the air. By now, the candidate and the company have gotten to know each other a little. The candidate has filled out the job application, you’ve reviewed their qualifications and decided they’re someone whose skills and experience match the position, and both parties are prepared to hit the high marks.
Who has more at stake—the candidate, or the company?
Many business owners, hiring managers and HR professionals will attest that the hiring process is as tough on them as it is on job candidates. As we mentioned in our earlier onboarding article, replacing an employee can cost a business as much as 1.5 times the employee’s salary in training and lost management hours. So while making the right choice is about filling a need and fostering new levels of collaboration, it’s also about your company’s bottom line.
There’s something else to consider: your company’s brand reputation.
The idea of employer branding has been around since the mid-90s, when larger companies began paying more attention to their reputations as employers. The thought was: in order to thrive in a global marketplace, they needed to recruit the best talent.
Flash-forward 20 years, and companies of all sizes see their “employer brand” as being intertwined with their out-facing consumer brand. In fact, many businesses pay greater attention—and invest more dollars—to create and empower brand promoters than ever before.
How does this relate to conducting a job interview?
Beyond the art and science of employer branding, there’s nothing like the first face-to-face meeting to leave a lasting impression.
By now, the candidate has registered the look, feel and flow of your job application; your online presence; perhaps even your shops, stores, products and people. Now their awareness has ticked up a notch. Everything they see, hear and experience will fold back into their larger idea of your brand.
Help them see the bigger picture of your company’s brand!
Here are three tips to help you represent your brand during and after a job interview.
- Move from Q&A to conversation. We’re sure you’ve heard this before: keep things conversational. Great! What does it look like in practice? Should you talk about the weather? Ask about home life? Not at all. Keeping things conversational is as much about tone and flow as it is about content.
You’ll have specific questions you’ll want to cover. Maybe you need clarity about something in their application. Perhaps you want to know more about their last job experience, or how their education has prepared them for professional life.
The goal: move them through the conversation naturally. Start by building rapport. Ask about their experience with the job search. See if they have any questions about the company. Then, use your insights and answers as ways to tell them more about the brand that connects with their curiosity.
Their takeaway: as a brand, you’ve put them in the driver’s seat. You care about their comfort, and you allow them to find and follow their own pace during a conversation. Instead of feeling rushed, they felt heard.
- Use stories and anecdotes whenever possible. Some interviewers want to share the company’s mission and vision. This is fine, but we suggest a slightly different tact: show how the actions of your employees reflect your mission and vision. The easiest way to do this is to share anecdotes and stories, whether from company lore, or things that just happened.
Stories can do more than convey information: they can leave lasting impressions we carry with us. And during a two-way conversation, stories often breed other stories.
If you want to ask the candidate how they handle deadlines, or respond when there’s a rush just before close and the team is short-staffed, start with a story that stars your company and your people. Then invite them into the story by sharing one of their own, or explaining what they would have done in that situation.
By using stories and anecdotes, you’re doing two things at once: a) providing context for what happens, and how things sometimes go around here; and b) personifying the business and the brand.
Their takeaway: your brand is willing to take people “beyond the masthead.” The company is forthcoming, and understands how to leave a lasting impression. Rather than simply regurgitating facts, you’re giving them a “behind the scenes” scoop.
- After the interview, the interview continues. In some ways, this one’s obvious, but it’s still easy to overlook.
First, you may decide to show a candidate around the office or shop. Be sure to have let employees know beforehand that you might be showing the candidate around. If you bump into another team member, they’ll be ready to say hello. (Or, if they’re super busy, they’ll know to hide out at their workspace!)
Then there’s the follow-up. Someone is eventually going to reach out, whether the candidate is “the one” or not. But that may take a week or two. In between, be sure to send the job candidate any resources you discussed during the interview: links to web articles, or downloadable white papers, or the latest online menu. It reinforces the fact that your company believes in following through on its promises, no matter how small.
As a courtesy, you or another team member could also send them a simple thank you note for taking the time to meet. It’s not about getting their hopes up. Rather, it’s another way to keep things personable and professional.
Their takeaway: they’ll feel valued, and appreciate your responsiveness. And hopefully, they’ll see that the brand is authentic and “real.”
Remember, even candidates who don’t get the job can become powerful and vocal supporters of your company. Not all of them will be the right fit as an employee, but you might make a few new customers, partners, and advocates along the way.
myStaffingPro Job Application Branding
myStaffingPro is an enterprise-level applicant tracking system for HR professionals that helps simplify your recruitment process. You can create job requisitions, then blast them across online job boards, social media, and your own personalized career portal. For your hiring manager, it’s as easy as clicking a button!
Company-branded job applications are available with the myStaffingPro ATS system.
Let your company’s unique look, feel, and voice show on your job applications. And give job applicants more ways to discover and connect with your brand.