I prepare candidates for interviews.
That makes sense, you say. I work for a company that provides consulting and recruitment services to clients. I wouldn’t be very successful placing candidates with clients if I didn’t carefully select and prepare my candidates for those interviews. That’s just smart. But that’s not what I’m talking about.
I’m talking about the positions that I recruit and screen for internally. When I schedule interviews for open positions within ETC (the awesome company for which I work), I make sure that I meet them prior to sending them down the hall to interview with the hiring manager. However, rather than jumping straight to the grilling session regarding why they want the job and how they prepared for the interview, I’ve recently taken a new approach. I explain the company to them – our organizational culture, the projects they will work on, the things that have made us successful, the benefits and perks our employees enjoy. I talk about management and answer their questions. I ease them into conversation and discuss the next step in the interview process. I directly tell them that the interview they are about to have with the management team is a structured panel interview focused on the content of the job. I specifically tell them that examples are an important part of a good response and to think about the context that we have discussed as they provide those examples. I do pretty much everything except tell them exactly what to say.
Why? Because the interview process as a one-sided interrogation is old news. How is it that a company gets to ask all the questions and withhold the key pieces of information that a candidate needs in order to decide whether he or she even wants the job? Why do we get to hold applicants hostage with information? Call it tradition or business need…but it doesn’t work that way anymore.
Finding the right person for the job isn’t just about matching a resume to a job description. It’s about matching the person to the company – person-organization fit. It is not enough to ask whether a candidate is the best person for the job. Instead, we need to ask:
Is this the best person for the job given this context?
The context is your environment. You may have three candidates who appear equally proficient at widget assembly. But can they do it in your environment? Do they want to work in your environment? Will what you have to offer motivate them? How could you ever answer those questions if you don’t give the candidate any information about what you have to offer?
Person-organization fit isn’t pop psychology. It’s a valid concern as companies compete for employees. I prep candidates for interviews so that they can play a role in the selection process. Candidates who don’t like what they experience in our interview process or who don’t find what they are looking for in our list of benefits and perks will excuse themselves from the selection process. Rather than finding out that they are not the right candidate a few months after hire, we are more accurately identifying our top candidates during the interview process. I’m giving our candidates the best opportunity possible to shine during the interview process so that managers aren’t swayed just by interview skills but by the actual qualifications of the candidates.
Prepped candidates know what they are getting into. They know how the company’s values match their own. They understand the context so that when it comes time to answer interview questions, their examples are applicable to our needs. Their nerves are more settled and they are better able to focus on the interview process.
Employment is a two-way street. If you want the most out of your employees, start on even ground. Make sure you are both getting your needs met and that you share core values and goals. Let person-organization fit be part of your selection process and invite candidates to see what your company really has to offer.