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Free Bars Are Great – But Meaningful Work The Top Motivator For Candidates

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Most people think they are better at stuff than they actually are: driving, singing, telling jokes. Most companies suffer the same problem with their interview process. When a company and a candidate both think they are great and cannot be improved, you get the usual awkward interview where the candidate pretends to be somebody they’re not and the interviewer pretends they work for a different company.

There are three elements that can help change that: interviews should ‘engage’ with candidates, they should be quick and they should fully reflect your company’s brand. With that in mind, these are my tips to make your interview process more efficient:

 

Sell something meaningful

Candidates are easier to find these days but harder to engage. There’s a lot of competition on the jobs market. When you’re recruiting a new hire, your company will be one of many that are looking for top talent. Nobody wants mediocre workers. Similarly, you’re not the only firm a candidate might consider. If they’re active in the marketplace, they’ll be applying for loads of jobs. If you’re a small firm, you might not have the fat salaries or free food that multinationals can offer, but you can sell something more meaningful in the interview. For example, you might have a really great training programme that’s respected in your industry. Tell candidates about it and what it could do for their careers. If you sell the genuine opportunities of working with your organisation, you’ll get a much better response and interviewees will compete harder for the role. Free food, gyms and bars on-site are great extras, but no one will join a company on these benefits alone – they want to do work that’s worthwhile. Meaningful work is the best motivator. Companies need to realise that they can stress that in their recruitment process and beat the big boys.

 

‘Creative’ questions

Once the opportunity has been sold and the candidate is interested, you’d be amazed at how many firms miss obvious questions and ask things in interviews that have little to do with the role on offer. Say you have a job in advertising sales, you’ll have a lot of companies asking general questions around a candidate’s experience or set interview questions they think should be asked such as asking about their biggest failure. Instead, companies should be asking very practical questions about the candidate’s ability to do the job, like how good they are at selling ads. Ask them about what targets they achieved in their previous role, who they sold ads to, that kind of thing. Specific questions will allow candidates to showcase their skills, and they’ll be much more enthusiastic about answering them. I had a client recently who went for a job at a well-known e-commerce business. Both the attitude and the timing of their questions was all wrong. For about two hours, they asked him fairly negative questions about things like the times he had failed, but they didn’t give him much of an opportunity to show off his past experience. It didn’t reflect the brand they were selling. They came across as very stiff and not a very nice place to work. Needless to say, he lost interest pretty quickly. Candidates should always see the point behind your line of questioning.The tech sector in particular is prone to asking ‘creative’ questions like: How many red cars do you think there are in Ireland? The idea is to see how candidates deal with a problem they’ve never encountered and have no frame of reference for. That’s fine, but you need to earn the right to ask those types of questions. If a potential hire comes through the door and is bombarded with really weird questions without context or reason, you will get a weak response. Again, if you have shown the opportunity on offer and given an explanation as to why you are asking the strange questions people will see it as a challenge and give it their all.

 

Quick turnaround

The longer people are left in the recruitment process, the longer they’re open to new opportunities. If you like a candidate, you’d better be quick. Don’t let time make the decision for you. Arrange interviews 24 hours after you’ve closed applications. When you interview somebody, get back to them within a week with the next stage, whatever it is. Either bring them in for a follow-up or get them out of the process. There’s nothing worse than going for an interview and hearing nothing. If candidates don’t hear from you, they’ll lose interest and start looking elsewhere. Think of it from your point of view. If a candidate didn’t get back to you for ages when you offered them a second interview, you’d see it as a red flag that they weren’t interested. The whole process should take two or three weeks. That’s ideal.

 

Double standards

There can be lots of double standards like that in the interview process. For example, if you arrange an interview with somebody at 10am, don’t have them waiting around for 15 minutes. Tardiness wouldn’t be tolerated at the company so don’t tolerate it from yourself. I also think if you expect somebody to wear business attire to the interview, you should wear it yourself.  It’s gas, you’ll see the coolest companies in the world where everybody wears sandals and T-shirts, but if someone shows up to an interview without a tie, they turn their noses up at them. If you can only offer a six-month contract, be prepared to look at people who might have had a lot of different jobs. They might have worked a lot of six-month contracts like the one you’re offering, so there’s no point ruling them if they’ve moved around a lot.

 

Finally, I’d say that if you’re serious about finding top talent, you should be flexible about when you can arrange interviews. A prized candidate is probably busy being successful between nine and five, so be prepared to interview them outside normal working hours or on weekends. It doesn’t make sense if you’re pitching your brand as laid back, but you have a very strict interview schedule.

Posted by Rossa Mullally, Manager Sales & Multilingual on 7 December 2017

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Hire for human instinct in the digital era

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Technology is important, of course and we use all the latest tools. But we are combining technology with human instinct. We are using it to complement our own capabilities.” No matter how advanced, technologies like AI and machine learning can be prone to the same errors as humans. “They are designed to do what a human or a group of humans will do but will never have human relationship skills and instincts”, he notes. But they can repeat the same mistakes as humans. In the US, when AI was used in an attempt to overcome unconscious bias in the recruitment process it was actually found to perpetuate it. This was because the algorithms use data on previously successful candidates to hire from the next bunch, thereby repeating and possibly amplifying the behaviour of its human predecessors. Indeed, in 2018, Amazon ceased using AI assessment of CVs after it was found that the software was biased against those which include the term “women’s”, such as in “women’s team captain”. Again, this was due to trends in the dataset of previously successful candidates. This is not the only reason to be cautious of an over-reliance on technology. Mistakes are costly, says O’Shea. “The Work Institute published research last year that showed that wrong hires are costing businesses around the world $600 million every year. The average employee in Europe now changes job every 12 months. We have to look at why people leave, and it’s usually because they are not a technical or motivational fit. It’s generally about culture.” “Every organisation needs to hire the right people for them,” he continues. “Every hiring process should be unique, not off the shelf. Technology should be used as an enabler. It can be used for creating a long list of candidates and identifying a large talent pool. You need human input for short-listing and interviewing. If the recruiter works for the company, they will already know the culture. If it is an external recruiter, they will need to learn the client’s culture. I recently spent three days in Stockholm with a client learning their culture. Before that I was in Berlin and Barcelona.” It’s not about organisations having a good or bad culture. “I explain to clients that their culture is their culture. They shouldn’t try to hide it or represent the organisation as something that it is not.” But culture can vary. “It can be different from country to country, office to office, and between sales and production and engineering. You have to understand it, if you are to hire candidates who will be the right cultural fit.” He concludes by pointing out that the human interaction at interview stage is now critically important to hiring the best people. “The economy is now at full employment and financial, accounting, and technology candidates can have five or six job offers at any one time. It’s a two way process now. Candidates are as much as interviewing the company as they are being interviewed. It’s now almost a question of them hiring the company.” Mac Giolla Phádraig adds: “You can take the human out of the stone-age, but you can’t take the stone-age out of the human. Certain instincts are hard wired in us all, some in our self-interest; survival, fight or flight, reproduction and others which are altruistic; compassion, tribal instinct and a societal instinct.” Intuition is when you trust your instinct, which is often perceived as being “fluffy” as a decision-making factor when used to recruit. “We should not pit data against intuition, rather we should use our intuition to develop a hypothesis about a candidate and test that with the data in a experiential way at interview. Afterall, instincts are the fundamental drivers of how we behave and how we feel. I for one, would love to see a new recruit display, compassion towards my customers, tribal instincts towards my team and societal instinct towards the world at large. Use your instinct to hire for human instinct.”