Two years ago, in 2017, when I was looking for a job, I had this great interview experience. Now, after some time, and from a recruiter’s point of view, I feel ready to share it with you. I’m very confident, this story will give you a new perspective on interviews and the recruiter’s responsibility to shape a great candidate experience.
So back then, I was finishing my master’s degree in HR. As you may imagine, I was applying for almost any HR jobs I could find. At some point, among other companies, a recruiting agency reached out, saying that they wanted to meet me. I agreed, not knowing their client, as it seemed a great opportunity to connect with HR professionals, capable of matching me in the future to multiple jobs.
I can clearly recall that I found it hard to locate the office. It wasn’t typical office premises, that I was used to. After finding it, I waited a bit, as it was way too early to enter. After a few minutes, I rung the bell. The office secretary, as I assumed, opened the door and led me to a meeting room with walls made of glass.
This was the first time I encountered glass-wall room; therefore, I remember it. Soon afterward, the interviewer entered the room as well. I had seen some of his posts on LinkedIn, so it felt as if I already knew him, which made the rapport building much easier.
After the typical questions, he mentioned to me his client, for whom he was recruiting. To his surprise, I had already been interviewed by his client and my experience was the worst. I explained what had happened and what made me reluctant to consider the opening.
So, after sharing my negative recruiting experience, we started talking about HR in general. We talked about various industries, HR solutions, and even specific companies and notorious HR managers. I really enjoyed the conversation and felt comfortable. Later, as we were about to finish the interview, I shared this feeling with the interviewer:
This is probably the first time I have such an open discussion in an interview, which is great because I can talk about something I love and gain some insights form people working in a filed I want to work.
I recall telling him.
Then, John (not his real name) explained to me, that this was his approach when it comes to conducting an interview. He wanted the interviewee to feel at ease and be able to really open up. This way, John was able to understand the other person and how (s)he would behave after a few weeks on the job, when (s)he would become as relaxed as in the interview.
As a matter of fact, he shared an incident with me, that took place the day before we met. A candidate got so loose with John, that he started talking about all the sex he had with his girlfriend the other day. I was a bit shocked, both with the conversation itself, and the fact that a candidate would talk about such a personal topic with an interviewer; with a complete stranger. Yet another thing I will never forget…
What really struck me that day, was the ability of the recruiter to be so friendly, yet professional, and facilitate such a “cozy” interview experience.
One might claim though, that this style of interview is not for all companies. Some may not have a fitting culture, so this approach may be discouraged. The Big Four for example, who are notoriously professional, strict and process-oriented. While this may be true in a way, I really feel the urge to share with you the benefits of a recruiter conducting interviews in the way described in the story.
FRIENDLY RECRUITERS CONDUCT MORE EFFECTIVE INTERVIEWS
The main purpose of an interview is to explore various behaviors in a candidate’s profile. These behaviors are – or should be, to be more accurate – related to the position a candidate is applying for. So, exploring these behaviors during an interview aims at exploring indications of the candidate’s future performance in the context of the specific position (s)he has applied.
Now ask yourselves:
When can this be more effectively accomplished? When someone is anxious and tries to come up with the most suitable answers? Or when this person is relaxed?
Anxiety affects us in two ways. Firstly, it distorts our perception and it filters the questions asked by the interviewer a certain way. Secondly, it affects our response. So, there are two filters that distort, what reaches an interviewer’s ears. Meaning, when one feels nervous, the probability of a recruiter to gather helpful insights on the behaviors drops significantly, making the interview much less effective.
Contrary to an anxious candidate, a relaxed one can help the recruiter pick up more accurate signals. This way, the interview serves its purpose, as it leads to a more accurate prediction.
FRIENDLY RECRUITERS ENHANCE EMPLOYER BRAND
Employer brand is the perception various external and internal stakeholder have about an organization. It has become quite a buzzword nowadays, and for a good reason, taking into account how it affects organizations. It has been proven, that Employer Brand affects how many people will apply for a position, how many will accept an offer, how many will suggest an organization as an employer to friends and family and many other essential recruiting KPIs.
Candidate experience is not a negligible concept in this context, as it is one of the factors that affect Employer Brand. According to Google, the main driver of candidate experience is the interview process. And who shapes an interview if not the recruiter?
As a matter of fact, Google’s internal research shows that the interviewers, in particular, are one of the biggest drivers of a candidate’s overall satisfaction with the hiring process, and can make or break a decision to accept an offer.
Furthermore, through the course of the years, many effects of the recruiter’s behavior have been studied, in order to achieve an understanding of how a recruiter can affect the organizational attractiveness formed by candidates during the recruiting process.
The one thing that has been scientifically proven to affect the attractiveness candidates develop towards an organization, was the recruiter’s personableness (Chapman et al. 2005). Meaning, the degree to which recruiters make a candidate feel at ease and like them, is linked to how the candidate is going to feel towards the company’s employer brand.
We, recruiters, have the privilege of doing impactful work. We are the ones to decide to an extent, who will be joining our organization and pursuing the realization of our business goals.
The job is not ideal and it’s, definitely, not easy. Hopefully, it is something you chose to do for yourself, because only then one can create great experiences during an interview, leading to more effective interviews and resulting in candidates, who are willing to promote your brand and engage with it again.
- Chapman, D. S., Uggerslev, K. L., Carroll, S. A., Piasentin, K. A., & Jones, D. A. (2005). Applicant attraction to organizations and job choice: a meta-analytic review of the correlates of recruiting outcomes. Journal of applied psychology, 90(5), 928.
- Guide by Google: Shape the candidate experience
Recruiting is a topic dear to my heart, so I really hope to have helped you in a way. Share your thoughts in the comments section below, as I learn just as much from you as you do from me and make sure you don’t miss my future posts by following me on LinkedIn. Finally, if you’d like to get in touch, my email is firstname.lastname@example.org or you can message me on LinkedIn.