The hiring process is the first step in building a world class team. Creating a positive experience for candidates in the interview process can indirectly be a great marketing opportunity for your organization, while a negative experience can be crippling for brand reputation.
For a startup establishing a reputation and growing a user base in the market, nailing the candidate experience is key. However, this crucial piece of the hiring process is often overlooked and undervalued, leaving much room for improvement.
Here are my top tips for ensuring candidates are positively engaging with your company during the interview process:
1. Pre-interview, make sure that your dialog with the interviewee is coming across as polite and friendly. You very well may be working with this person in the near future and you want to make sure to start off on the right foot interpersonally. It might be the oldest cliché in the book, but first impressions really do count – especially in such a competitive and candidate short market.
2. This sounds like a no-brainer, but make sure that interviewees can actually get into your office without much stress or hassle. If your building uses a buzzer to let people in, make sure that it works. If there are two entrances, make sure they aren’t going to surprise you at the back door. Preempt any issues that might come up and make sure candidates have the contact details for you or your receptionist in case they run into anything unforeseen. You don’t want to set your future rockstar employee up to be flustered, stranded or unable to make it on time for the interview.
3. One of the easiest and most effective ways to enhance the candidate experience is to encourage your current team members to offer a warm welcome to guests as they come and go from your office. This is often ignored. Of course everyone is busy. But never underestimate the value of a smile and a genuine Hello/How are you/ Nice to meet you. You are essentially selling your company to new employees through a series of first impressions. Make sure everyone is on their best hosting behavior.
4. Once through the doors, interviewees will be looking for clues as to what it would be like to actually work at your company. The quick 30 second walk through your office before the interview offers potential employees a brief glimpse into the very soul of your company. They will be able to sense if the current team seems happy, engaged, frustrated, motivated, or (in worst cases) desperate to jump ship themselves. Make sure that your current team is cognizant of the impact of their demeanor, and that they are showing the company and culture in the most positive light.
5. How clean and tidy is your office? No one expects startup offices to be perfect, but new employees shouldn’t be worried about sharing office space with mice or roaches…
6. If snacks, lunches, drinks, beers etc. are perks of working at your company, make sure these are plainly visible. However, if you order in family style lunches, be aware that it’s not the best look to have lunch sitting out and stinking up the office all day when a potential new hire is coming in. So, if it's past 2.30pm, now might be a good time to put the cold lamb meatballs away in the fridge.
7. When closing out interviews, be polite and make sure that everyone leaves with a clear idea of the next steps. There is absolutely no value in being rude or disrespectful to candidates who haven’t impressed you. It’s a small world after all, and they could well be roommates with your actual next dream hire.
Good luck with interviewing and I hope this helps! You’ll only ever hire a small percentage of the people you interview. That being said, you want everyone who walks out of a meeting with you impressed by your company and telling people in their network what a great experience they had with you. Also feel free to let me know if you have any feedback or comments based on your experiences as either a hiring manager or candidate.
I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org