Recruitment like the housing market has changed over the years. It’s no longer a sellers’ market, or in this case, an employers’ market and sometimes our best selling point is the perception others have of us. It comes as no surprise that there is a talent shortage and I bet that if you ask any recruiter, what keeps them up at night, they’ll tell you it’s trying to find the best and brightest individuals to fill their most difficult mandates. So when we finally do succeed in finding these rare unicorns, it’s thoroughly disappointing when offers are not accepted. There are many reasons for candidates to decline offers so let’s do our best to make sure, the interview isn’t one of those reasons!

Many employers forget that interviewing is a two way street. As much as we expect candidates to be on time, be prepared, look the part and fit into our corporate culture, so too is the candidate looking for the same from us. Not only are we as professional interviewers scrutinizing and analyzing everything about the candidate, chances are, good candidates are doing exactly the same thing to us!

Below are a few tips that, in my opinion, if followed, will make the world of difference in the candidate experience and turn that possible NO, into a definite YES I’ll join your company.

  • Be respectful of candidate’s time. One of my biggest pet peeves is lateness. My schedule is usually packed with interviews and meetings and I don’t have much space in-between. When candidates show up late, this off-sets my whole day and I don’t get a very good first impression. So too can this be the case for candidates. Not every candidate takes a complete day off work to have a one hour interview. Many times these candidates come to see us during lunch hour or before their shift starts in the morning. Whatever the case, as important as it is for hiring managers to get a good first impression of the candidate, it is equally important for the candidate to have a good impression of us.
  • Be prepared. Nothing spells interview doom better than an unprepared candidate who either didn’t do his research on the job or the company. We have expectations as interviewers that the candidates in front of us took the time to read our well-crafted job descriptions and deeply thought about how their skills match our needs. The candidates on the other hand also have expectations. They expect that we as interviewers took the time to read their resume, that most likely took them hours to write, and come up with thought provoking interview questions that will allow them to get the chance to sell themselves. Not everyone who interviews is best at the “fly by the seat of my pants” method, and I think most candidates can quickly pick up on an unprepared interviewer.
  • Cell phones off please! Think about your impression of a candidate who answers their phone or makes a text mid interview? Would you hire them? How would it make you feel? Our job as interviewers isn’t only to evaluate and assess candidate behaviour in an interview; it’s also to show candidates how much we appreciate their taking the time to meet with us. Think about it, if this person sitting in front of you was good enough to get through a few layers of recruitment filtering, you may have a top candidate in front of you that other firms may be vying for as well. Give them the best impression of yourself and the company by ensuring they have your undivided attention. If you are anticipating an important call, it’s best to state it up front apologetically, so that the expectation is set from the beginning and we don’t risk a negative impression later on.
  • Be empathetic. I think sometimes as people who already have jobs, we forget what it’s really like to be a job seeker. We forget the emotional roller coaster of elation and frustration job seekers go through when embarking on the job search process. We forget that everyone has a story behind their want and need for the role you, as a hiring manager, has the power to give them or not. So be empathetic, try your best in the interview to make the interviewee be at ease. By gaining a candidates trust, not only will you most likely get to see the best self of the candidate, but the candidate will most likely perceive you as a boss they’d like to work for in the future. By no means am I saying not to be tough interviewers, but what I am saying is pay attention enough to pick up on the non-verbal cues of the person in front of you and adapt your strategy to get the best out of that person.

In the end, perception becomes the reality. If you want to be perceived as being an employer of choice, you need to show that you are an employer of choice and what better way to start the candidate experience off on the right foot than right within the first interview.

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