I like to say that I’ve never had a bad job, but I certainly have experienced a bad interview process. It started with an unexpected call from a recruiter. He was following up on my application, and immediately jumped into a series of questions clearly designed to test whether I’d memorized some arbitrary facts about his company. I know my answers weren’t very accurate, because — well, because I hadn’t anticipated talking to him. I was cleaning my apartment.
Not that it mattered. He didn’t care what I said, he just had to ask. My off-the-cuff ramblings constituted a successful first-round interview.
Next, I was brought in to talk more about the role with this same recruiter. Except, I never actually met him. Instead, the CEO walked into the room. This was pretty disorienting, but I did my best to maintain my composure. After all, maybe this meant that I was the company’s top candidate. And though my experience with the recruiter hadn’t left me all that excited about the job, I thought a conversation with the CEO might change my mind.
Not so much. He proceeded to tell me that he didn’t believe in work-life balance. Instead, he subscribed to work-life choice. As in, you can work or you can have a life. Apparently he often told his wife that she should spend less time with their children so that she could focus more on her career.
That evening, I emailed the recruiter to remove my name from consideration. I knew I didn’t want to be a part of company that hired via a process that left candidates feeling confused and disappointed. (Nor did I want to work for a CEO who sounded like he was about as much fun as a broken toaster).
Obviously, hiring at Torrent functions very differently. Recently, I chatted with our Director of Talent Acquisition to learn more about how he creates a process that, at its best, is a positive experience for everybody — even the candidates that aren’t chosen for the job.
Here’s what I learned:
Hiring tip #1: Stories are more important than resumes.
What some organizations still don’t understand is that their employees are a lot more than just employees. They’re full-feeling individuals, complete with particular pasts and wholly unique worldviews. Yes, they’ve got job experience, but that’s such a small part of a person. And it’s exactly why a resume tells you so little.
Instead of placing so much importance on a single page of bullet points, try focusing more on a candidate’s story. You can learn a lot from a self-constructed narrative, after all: Skills, passions, motivations, desires. Where has this person been and what have they done? Have they persevered? Do they have grit? If your company has a set of core values, ask yourself what aspects of the their story align with those values.
From a candidate’s perspective, the opportunity to share a story allows them to lead with authenticity. Instead of trying to answer the standard questions with what they think the interviewer might want to hear, they can just… be themselves. Speaking from experience, it’s a much more pleasant experience than getting grilled about your biggest strengths and weaknesses.
Hiring tip #2: GWC is a really important acronym.
I’m usually hesitant to ask people to memorize one more acronym, but this one’s important. GWC stands for: Get it, Want it and the Capacity to Do It. As in, great candidates should get what your company is all about, really want to join your team and have the capacity to do the job well.
GWC provides a rubric for determining great employee-employer fit. There’s plenty of people out there who can be trained to do a given a job, but only somebody who’s a great fit for your company is going to make a lasting impression.
And looking at it from the other side of the relationship, your employees will only be happy if the company is a great fit for them. Which brings me to my next point…
Hiring tip #3: Interviewing is a two-way street.
Many of us have been trained to think of the interview process as chance for a candidate to prove their worth to a potential employer. They’re supposed to say and do whatever it takes to get the job, right? It’s as if the job-seeker is a salesperson, pitching their skills to a customer.
Here’s a different way to think about it: If you’re a recruiter, candidates are your customers. Without them, you won’t be able to hit your numbers and bring talent into the company. As such, you should interact with candidates from a customer-service perspective. Show them how great your company is. Be timely in your scheduling, clear in your expectations. Give them a chance to ask questions. Make them feel comfortable.
Sometimes a salesperson might choose not to close a sale, even if they could. If the fit isn’t right, it won’t be a worthwhile transaction. Hopefully, however, they’ll still feel good about the way they represented their company throughout the process. Similarly, recruiters aren’t going to hire most of the people they talk to. But if those people they don’t hire had a positive interview experience, they’re much more likely to become an advocate of your company. I’ve never said a bad word about a company that didn’t hire me. I’ve been much more vocal about organizations that disrespected me during the interview process.
It’s pretty simple. Job-seekers are people. Treat them accordingly.
I dream of the day when the above tips aren’t useful anymore because everybody’s already doing them. Until then, I’ll keep saying the obvious: Job-seekers are real people. If they’re spending their time with you to figure out if your company is one they want to work for, you owe them attentiveness and respect.
Let’s aim for fewer trick questions and more meaningful relationships.