Convincing candidates to work for you

Convince candidates to work for you

An interview is not just about the candidate showing off their best assets. If you’re looking for highly-sought after skills, or are desperate to find the right fit for your business, how you come across during the interview process is just as important.

In fact, last year around three-quarters of organisations had difficulty filling vacancies, according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s annual resourcing and talent planning report.

Giving a candidate a great introductory spiel on your corporate values and the awards you’ve won might not be enough, so how can you make the perfect candidate want to come and work for you? Here are five ways to make your interview process work for you as well as the candidate.


Get them on task

The Apprentice might be just a reality TV show, but Lord Sugar is on to something when it comes to asking candidates to roll up their sleeves. Asking a candidate to do a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis or a presentation on your future strategy will enable them to really investigate what makes your business tick, and picture themselves being part of your success. Not only do you get to see how they perform in a real work situation, but it also helps to give the candidate a better feel for your organisation.

“Organisations can help their interviews work for them if they can get the candidate to see how a particular project works, and one way to do this is to ask the candidate to generate their own ideas,” explains Sarah Archer, a career coach with 20 years experience in HR and recruitment. “Tests and strategy writing exercises are more popular these days because they’re good differentiators.”


Make their history your history

The simplest way to do this is to describe your organisation thoroughly so the candidate can see how they would fit in, says John Lees, author of How to Get a Job You’ll Love.

But savvy recruiters take this a step further, by posing questions about the candidate’s history that make them feel as though they’ve found their perfect career match.

“An intelligent interviewer will deconstruct the candidate’s work history to get their back story,” adds Lees. When the candidate describes a time when they worked in a certain way, perhaps they managed a team against a set of key performance indicators, “this is your opportunity to say ‘This is how we work too’.” The result is a candidate who feels comfortable with the prospect of working with you and a good cultural fit for your business.


Meet the team

The interview process is an investment in itself: senior managers take time out from business development, and you invest time and money to draw up job descriptions and advertise the role. But you could have the most technically suitable candidate available and that investment would still be wasted if they’re not suited to your working environment.

“One of the best ways to share your vision is to get your interviewee to meet as many people as possible in their team,” says Tina Rycroft, managing director of recruitment company and employment advice service The Plus Group. “If they’re sought after, they need an environment in which they can flourish even more. You need to show them you’ve got the tools they need to do their job and be happy working there.”

Buddy up your candidate with someone they’d be working with, they can ask questions and be given honest answers. “Panel interviews just don’t give much chance to build up this sort of rapport,” says Archer. “Simple things like getting candidates to meet the team can make it a positive experience.”


Make it relevant

Interview questions such as “Why do you want to work here?” and “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” are good for extracting basic information and seeing how a candidate reacts to an open-ended question. But the best way to see if your working relationship is going to be a happy one is to ask questions that place them firmly in the role.

Start by describing a typical work dilemma and ask the candidate to explain in detail how they would react to it. Someone who relishes this sort of situation will come away from the interview with a feel for what their typical working day might be like, and will more likely to accept an offer should it be forthcoming.

Don’t feel you have to put rose-tinted glasses on the situation either, give the candidate a real idea of the issues they might face, says Rycroft. “If the expectations are not clear, they’ll be gone in three months.”


Provide an opportunity to shine

Much of this will depend on your budget, the size of your organisation and the role you’re recruiting for, but asking candidates to come to an assessment day can really help to build up a rapport.

The assessment should not just be a chance for you to see if they’re a good fit in terms of ability and attitude, but an opportunity for some positive PR, too. Using tests or assessment centres as part of the interview process shows the candidate that you’re prepared to make an investment in ensuring they’re right for the role.

Consider hosting a networking lunch so they can meet members of your team and see who they’ll be working with. Place marketing materials around the event so your brand is at the front of their minds while they are there. Candidates that fail to make the grade will still come away from the experience with a positive impression of you as an employer, which is great news the next time you need to recruit.


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