Igniting Your Candidate Experience

Interviews are the the moment when your employer brand sparks to life.

From the moment your candidate connects with you in real life—and we’ll include telephone, Skype, and Google Hangouts as real life because it’s 2015—you’re humanizing your employer brand and making a human connection. In this pivotal employer branding moment, the question to ask yourself is this: does your interview ignite your employer brand and energize your candidate? Or, does it extinguish it like a candle snuffer?

A friend of mine was recently interviewed by a local government institution. The interview was, as she mildly put it, “boring.” Their questions were predictable, systematic, and inauthentic. The interviewers followed their interview guides precisely, reading each question verbatim, and never once showed an ounce of personality.

Does this sound like the interviews you’re conducting?

Up until this point, your employer brand is a bit of a mixed bag. It’s your direct HR marketing efforts, such as your careers website, social media, and your intentional candidate experience efforts. But it’s also the indirect stuff like word on the street (aka Glassdoor, word of mouth, etc.) So, how do you balance your inherent HR need for structure and make your employer brand come to life in a positive, warm kind of way? How do you give candidates an interview that feels authentic?

  1. Have Fun. “Fun” is entirely contextual based on the corporate climate, but it can start with smiling and attempting to make an honest connection with your candidate. If your candidate is comfortable, he or she will interview to his or her best ability, so why not be cordial and inviting to set the stage for a successful interview?

  1. Be Flexible. I once worked with a manager who said that he liked to “give candidates enough rope to see if they’d hang themselves.” While it’s a dark analogy to apply, I like the concept. Be flexible enough to adapt on the fly to what a candidate may (or may not) be saying.

  1. Mirror the Brand. Whatever those adjectives are that your marketing department uses to humanize your business brand — be them. How a candidate perceives the company should be the same whether he or she read your latest news release, applied for a job, or met a hiring manager. There should be harmony among the messaging.

  1. Keep it Real. Talk about the struggles the candidate will be facing, explain the culture with balanced humility and pride, and be honest. Setting up honest and reasonable job realities is essential to job satisfaction and it starts in the interview. Candidates are craving authenticity and transparency, so give it to them. Look for candidates who connect to your transparency and those who ask the hard questions back at you.

Interviewing should be a positive experience for candidates and interviewers alike, and when you can humanize a brand you believe in, it elevates the interview to what it should be: a great conversation.

About the Author: Writer, connector, collaborator – Gabrielle Garon is an enthusiastic HR pro on a simple mission to be a person of value, not of success. Gabrielle got into HR because she really liked helping others and soon found an overwhelming curiosity for behavior, motivation, and how it all intersects with business.

photo credit: Sparks via photopin (license)