Is there anything more frustrating … you‘ve found the ideal candidate, invested multiple stakeholder’s time in meeting with, conferring and agreeing on a candidate, defined and presented your offer, only to have the candidate accept and join another organisation.
Not entirely uncommon, however, this frustration is second only to making the wrong hiring decision, and often can have a greater commercial impact. As we approach ‘full employment’, the likelihood and risk to your business of ‘losing’ the ideal candidate becomes far, far greater. So what can you do to address this?
The absolute key to mitigating this risk is to turn your hiring processes from good to great. You need to be aggressive, be bold, set your standards higher than ever before and don’t take anything less than great. Your business deserves it and your prospective candidates will respond accordingly – your hiring processes can’t be anything less than great. So in today’s competitive employment market, what does ‘great’ look like and how do you achieve it?
An excellent YouTube (see here) of a conversation between ‘an advertiser’ and ‘a consumer’ highlights how consumers are becoming savvier and more demanding of the brands they associate with, yet brands appear to have failed to listen to how consumers are changing. It’s a humorous and highly effective way of presenting this point. Now back on the hiring process – businesses must continue to stretch and challenge the way that they communicate with their prospective employees and their current employees. This is how you achieve hiring great.
Remembering that effective communication is more about listening than talking, the continued success of organisations’ hiring processes is to remain at the bleeding point of all communications that relate to their employment brand. At this point we could explore the merits of investing in ongoing research and monitoring of social and traditional media, significant PR investment and a structured multi-channel campaign to drive greater awareness of the employment proposition. Whilst these activities can be highly effective at enhancing the ‘control’ of the employment brand perceptions in the market and possibly drive strong individual recruitment campaign outcomes, this can be a highly cost intensive approach to reaching ‘great’ and for many organisations, the returns just don’t stack up.
So for the 90 – 95% of organisations with minimal to no budget to dedicate to an integrated employment branding communications strategy, what’s the most effective way to turn your hiring processes from good to great? Simple … by listening! Of course it’s not a simple case of hearing what is being said, but active listening – and particularly active listening when a candidate is being interviewed. The reason this is fundamental may seem obvious, of course you want to engage in a level of communication with prospective employees that is deep and meaningful, however, in this competitive climate where many ‘points of differentiation’ between employment propositions are less different, it will be your team’s ability to really understand each individual candidate’s motivators and respond clearly, succinctly and directly to each of these that will be your true point of differentiation.
Differentiation = your team’s ability to really understand each individual candidate’s motivators and respond clearly, succinctly and directly
Active listening takes practice, and to build it throughout your hiring processes can take time and adjustment, however, by deeply listening, paraphrasing and acknowledging to the interviewee that you understand the meaning of what they are saying, your ability and the integrity by which you link your employment proposition directly to the candidate’s preferences, motivators, drivers and capability will ensure that candidates leave their interview feeling as though they have been listened to, understood, and above all, how their needs align to what your organisation offers.
Some simple steps to set you on the path of enhancing the candidate communication process include:
- Ensuring that all employees understand and can articulate your multi-faceted employment proposition;
- Ensure that all interviewers have the capability to engage in active listening;
- Ensure that your interview guidelines, forms and structure enable interviewers to holistically understand candidate’s wants and needs;
- Integrate technical, preferential, career and values based questioning into your interviews and ensure that your assessment process enables a deep understanding of behavioural and cognitive attributes;
- Consider detailed reference checking as a rich source of information to further understand, manage and develop candidates;
- Include a detailed feedback process for candidates who are unsuccessful (and the successful candidate) – you want their experience with your organisation to be positive, and you want them to know that you listened to and understood them;
- Ensure there is careful reflection and exploration of the What’s in it for Me (WIFM) for your preferred candidate – and ensure your offer of employment reflects back the WIFM.
These are just a few steps to consider which will assist you to move from hiring good to hiring great.
Remember that recruitment is dynamic and your candidates may also be your future clients. By actively listening to your candidates you can immediately create a point of differentiation for your organisation.
Feel free to comment on this and provide additional comments on other approaches that improve the candidate communication process.