Finding the Qualified and Passionate Candidate

Passion will never quit being a buzzword. Candidates often like to refer to themselves as passionate and employers often ask for the “passionate go-getter” in job postings. Passion will be important in just every field if candidates want to be happy at work and employers want to have the most productive employees possible.  But is passion developed on the job or is it something that you can interview for? At my company, we’re interviewing experts, many of whom consider themselves a passionate candidate. We’ve conducted hundreds of interviews and enabled thousands. Here’s how to interview for passion.

The Value of Caring

Pride in one’s job can help employees work through the more difficult times. Passion motivates one to push past a problem with energetic determination. Where others may quit to go find something else, passionate employees will stick around and do the work that needs to get done. Often times, this is developed over time in one’s career path.  The key is to finding the passionate candidate in your search.

As Daniel Barber (@gaijindan), Director of Sales Development and Operations at ToutApp explains, this attitude is essential in determining success.

“Why passion? You can determine a candidate’s desire to succeed in thirty minutes or less. Simply, you’re looking for those who care versus those who do not . . . Finding people who possess hyper-performance attributes will lead to long-term value creation.”

As technical skill is important in many industries (as someone who works with video interview technology, I understand this better than most), passion is proving just as important, and employers are catching on. In a recent survey, 31% of employers reported that being passionate about work and the business’ values is important to their hiring process. If you’re not looking for passion in your hires, now might be a good time to start.

Identify a Passionate Candidate In An Interview

How do you find passionate employees? Create an honest dialogue with your candidate about what it’s like to work at your company. While your transparency won’t resonate with every candidate, it will attract the right ones. Don’t just talk about the job though! Talking about outside interests can reveal someone’s work ethic, enthusiasm, and energy.  A key attribute of passionate employees is they often exhibit passion in other areas as well. These are the candidates who can tell you excitedly about their judo contests, nature hikes, and more.  Listen intently because you may discover you’re interviewing a passionate candidate.

Whether you interview via video, at a coffee shop, or through the telephone, look or listen for cues that the person is truly interested in what you do. In industries that are less than glamorous, this can be tricky. Instead, convey your values and see if you can find alignment there. Outside of Hank Hill, nobody grows up saying they want to be a propane salesman.  But the successful candidate may be someone with passion for helping others, closing the deal, and getting out in the field.

Building a Culture of Passion

“Culture” is another buzzword in recruiting, and fortunately, culture is only a stone’s throw away from passion. Culture is creating an environment in which employees thrive, feel comfortable with one another, and produce great, innovative work on a regular basis. Culture can be so important to the workplace, in fact, that 43% of hiring managers ranked culture fit as the most important factor in their hiring decisions.

A good culture follows passionate employees, and in interviewing for passion, you’ll build a better culture. Let’s take an emerging market, for example. In Vietnam, information technology is a burgeoning market and companies there are looking for passion. Four-fifths of Vietnamese IT employees work in their field not because it makes them more money, but because they love working with computers.  They gain an introduction to the medium as early as the second grade and maintain a life long passion for computers.

Hiring for passion, though it may be an eye-rolling buzzword for some, is important to building more productive workers, can lead to better cultures and building up industries, and with video interviewing finding it in your potential hires is easier than ever.


Harsh Truths To Become A Better Recruiter

“I am convinced that nothing we do is more important than hiring and developing people. At the end of the day you bet on people, not on strategies” – Larry Bossidy

The phrase you are what you eat translates nicely to recruitment. Companies are built on great employees – hiring is therefore the most important thing we do. There are so many recruitment channels in today’s digital society that it’s increasingly difficult to stop some stuff slipping through the cracks.

This is by no means an indictment on the state of recruitment, but there is always room for change, room for innovation — if a shark stops swimming it will die; constant improvement is the only way to become a better recruiter.

Your job adverts aren’t helping

Automation is great, right? With just one click your job ad can be in front of thousands of eager candidates. The problem? The rules are different now. There is no horde of active candidates waiting to find your jobs and apply. Adverts tend to be presented in employer-centric terms; there’s little focus on genuine engagement.

Do away with costly advertising and focus less on products that let you post your job to hundreds of boards with one click — less than half of recruiters think the current system works well anyway.

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There is a clear information assymetry here. Recruiters are struggling to connect with the best candidates — neither party is satisfied.

Better LinkedIn research means better results

We all know how useful LinkedIn is to approach talent, but how often do you research the end user before you send that in-mail message? Carelessness at this stage can easily put candidates off.

Taking just five minutes to check if a candidate is the right fit for your organisation is all it takes.

– Do they have similar past employment — if you’re looking for a enterprise sales rep, do they have experience in the role?

– Do they have the right skills?

– Where are they based? We often overestimate a candidate’s willingness to take on a horrific commute or relocate. This alone doesn’t necessary rule a candidate out, but it should play a role in our decision.

There can be exceptions here, but candidates for whom you tick all the boxes here will be far more receptive to your approaches.

Your applications are too long

Would you want to apply for your job? It’s easy to hide behind the rhetoric that “the more you know about a candidate, the better placed we are to judge them.” Do we really need to know how many A’s they got at GCSE, though?

This is driving the increase in gamification — recent research suggests that by the end of 2014 more than 70% of the world’s largest companies will have at least one gamified application. L’Oreal saw significant success with its “Reveal” campaign. Allowing candidates to participate in the launch of a mock product, the game attracted more than 15,000 players — many of whom would never have considered applying.

Communicate better

Great hiring is so much more than just matching candidates with job descriptions. The best recruiters take time to get to know their candidates — find out what makes them tick, learn what they’re actually looking for. The problem? Currently most companies lack the framework to roll out this kind of continuous engagement process. Candidates slip through the cracks and are abandoned if they don’t meet company requirements.

Instead, by redirecting these candidates to a talent community we can continue to evaluate them and provide them with carefully curated content. Maybe there’s a different role that they would be better suited for? Maybe in six months time you will have more openings? A pool of engaged talent lets you develop an internal referral system. You already know whom you can hire before roles become available.

Interview like a pro

Behavioural competency interviews are not the gold standard. Following a strict playbook of questions that are designed to determine candidate suitability often leads to a leaden, unflexible process.

It’s still essential to determine that a candidate has the core skills that will allow them to succeed in your company. When you’ve established this, you should consider the idea of “hiring for cultural fit.” How will the applicant fit in with your team? Do you want to sit next to him/her for eight hours every day? Will he/she be invested in the business, or are you just a stepping stone? Finding answers to these questions lets you work out what kind of colleague he/she will be. Is he/she worth it?

Start following up. Now.

The treatment of candidates you don’t hire has never been more important. Hard-won recruiting reputations can be quickly damaged by disgruntled applicants on social media and review websites like Glassdoor.

At this stage a shocking 73.8% of the feedback candidates receive is little more than a standard template — hardly conducive to a great candidate experience. Taking a little time to correct this will help stem negative reviews and may even lead to unsuccessful applicants referring their friends.

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The Better Angels Of Perpetual Candidate Experience

We long for better angels. At least most of us dbo. We long for continuous support and sounding boards, deeper cultural connections to our real-time universe, our heaven (and sometimes unfortunately hell) on earth, and all those we come in contact with, whether in fleeting moments or ongoing endurance sessions of meaning and purpose with family, friends and colleagues, better angels everywhere we go.

Especially when at work, because at least for most of us, it’s not always a pleasure picnic. Plus, we’ve got bills to pay, food to keep on the table, a roof to keep overhead, and hopefully some left over for a vacation or two with the kids.

But for the modern dispersed workforce, the unprecedented levels of stress today in the workplace means that we want more than the money; we want cultural fit with like-minded folk to collaborate, innovate and invigorate our workspaces everywhere we go.

If my better angels aren’t there, then my workplace universe becomes a dark and cold place that no amount of cash can light up with warmth. At least, for most of us.

But cash burns a cold fire backstory for employers especially considering how highly competitive talent acquisition is today – the wrong hire can cost companies upwards of $25,000 – $50,000 on the average. Add to that the fact that job seekers are savvier in their search for the right positions and companies today with a strong employment brand and a level of transparency into their organizations is critical.

According to the Talent Board’s 2013 Candidate Experience Awards report, based on data from nearly 50,000 candidates from over 90 progressive companies, 59.5 percent of candidates have some relationship with employers at the onset of their search, which indicates a clear initial pre-disposition toward the employers and suggesting that positive association is the employer’s to lose.

Delivering a compelling employment brand story and recruiting user experience – especially for candidates – is what progressive organizations are doing today. Talent acquisition leaders are looking for ways that will amplify their recruiting process, ways to share and showcase their better angels.

What’s even more telling is that the results from the 2013 CandE Awards indicate the emerging importance of communicating a company’s culture as a key point of differentiation, as well as decreased emphasis on job benefit details.


Job candidates’ interests do center on why they might want to work at the company and why they would stay at that company, if offered a position. And just like the company seeks to assess the fit of those candidates, those same candidates are interested in the culture of that firm, and how the job (as it is presented by the employer) is aligned to the success of that company.

In the 2013 CandE survey, when progressive employers were asked “what marketing content do you make available (or that a job seeker might want to ask about) before they apply?” – the answers included:

  • Values (i.e., ‘Fit’) – 92.2%
  • Answers to ‘Why’ People Want to Work Here – 92.2%
  • Community and Sustainability Initiatives – 90.6%
  • Answers to ‘Why’ People Stay Here – 89.1%
  • Product Information – 88.9%
  • Diversity & Culture – 82.8%

Five out of the top six related to culture and “better angels.” Compare that with when the candidates were asked “what is your experience with the company’s marketing content available before you applied?” in the survey:

  • Values (i.e., Fit) – 48.7%
  • Answers to ‘Why’ People Want to Work Here – 48.6%
  • Product Information – 47.6%
  • Answers to ‘Why’ People Stay Here – 44.7%

Three out of the top four also lined up nicely with cultural fit. It’s important to note that candidates are consumers as well, not only of company culture, but also of what the company does and sells, which is why “product information” was so high on both of the above survey results.

How can we promote these “experiences” in a way that continuously highlights company culture for potential new employees as well as current employees?

Well, with video, of course. Seeing is believing:

  • Seeing. Corporate career sites are rich in media and employment branding content, including video. Video is a powerful medium today and with lower-cost and improved video creation and distribution platforms, and of course our everyday smart phones with cameras we carry around, its pervasiveness is telling. Companies can and should do a better job storytelling through video, enabling their talent acquisition teams to create company overview videos, “day-in-the-life” employee videos, hiring manager “what it’s like to work here” videos and other job related videos, that easily be posted to their career sites as well as leveraged for internal mobility.
  • Is Believing. Amplifying “talent engagement” candidate experiences, and our better angels, through video, enable a culturally collaborative hiring process that’s quite beneficial for candidates, recruiters and hiring managers alike. It creates a cultural bonding opportunity that is talent-centric, not process-centric, fostering consistent employment branding and personalized experiences crystallized and perpetuated into heavenly marketing moments that, if transparent and real, will lead to better business outcomes like faster recruiting, better quality of hire, cultural fit and improved retention.

Amen to the better angels of perpetual candidate experience, meaning and purpose.

(Meghan M. Biro and I are proud CandE Council members and volunteers, and my company PeopleFluent is a proud platinum sponsor. There’s still time to participate in the 2014 Candidate Experience Awards!)

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Are You A Good Fit? 3 Interview Questions

Like dating, hiring a new employee can be a stressful but rewarding process. Before you find a perfect match, you may meet tons of qualified people. And like a first date, interviewing is essential to evaluate a candidate’s qualifications and experience. But as you plan your interview strategy, don’t forget about chemistry.

Shall We Dance?

Sound hiring decisions require a grasp of each candidate’s potential fit with your company culture. However, as we all know, it can be hard to address important topics on a first date. Job interviews are no different. Quickly assessing a prospective employee’s personality requires finesse. That’s why skilled recruiters often rely on indirect questions.

In a recent article, business writer Jeff Haden compiled a list of entrepreneurs’ favorite interview questions. The entire list is fantastic, but I want to point out three questions that I find exceptionally effective:

1) When have you been most satisfied in your life?

Dick Cross, founder and CEO of investment industry performance advisors, Cross Partnership, asks this question to learn what motivates potential employees to achieve, so he can determine how this matches with opportunities at his company.

Inspired employees make success happen, but inspiring employees takes more than a clear mission or a cool product. People find satisfaction in unique accomplishments or special moments. Your company may not offer the same type of satisfaction or motivation a qualified employee needs to perform at the highest possible level.

2) Who is your role model, and why?

To discover how introspective candidates are, Clara Shih, Hearsay Social co-founder and CEO, asks them to talk about their role models. As a bonus, the answers often reveal core values and career aspirations.

When individuals talk about role models, they naturally describe the qualities they admire and hope to embody. For example, if Ghandi is your role model, it would be difficult to explain why investment banking would be an ideal career path for you. By assessing the merits of others as a benchmark, candidates can more easily assess their own strengths, weaknesses and professional progress.

3) What’s your super power? or What’s your spirit animal?

While super powers and spirit animals seem off-topic for interview sessions, HootSuite CEO Ryan Holmes uses this topic to get a hint of candidates’ creativity and self-awareness.

Abstract personality-type questions are an opportunity to demonstrate wit and imagination (and at the very least, tolerance for fanciful questions). Clearly there is no right answer here, but it offers a non-threatening way for candidates to open up. Their delivery and detail can reveal how they see their place in the world, and offers a chance to learn about unique qualities they hope to contribute to an organization.

Does your company interview for culture fit? What questions do you find most revealing?

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