During the Interview Process, Perception is Everything

In May 2018, the Department of Labor reported an unemployment rate of 3.8%--the lowest it’s been in 18 years. Employers are adding jobs at a steady rate, and while that’s good news for the economy, it also means your candidates have a wider pool of jobs to choose from.

How can you make sure you attract the most desirable candidates in a historically competitive job market? Be aware of how your candidates perceive your company, even before the first interview.

From the moment an interview confirmation is sent, your candidates begin evaluating your company’s professionalism and culture. These things can be easy for employers to overlook during the interview process. After all, isn’t the candidate supposed to impress you? These days, the good impressions have to go both ways.

I want to share a recent experience with you.

One of our clients desperately needed to fill a Regional Manager role that had been open for seven months. This particular role had extremely narrow guidelines and required relocation to the region it would cover.

After months of searching, a candidate finally appeared that fit the guidelines and the company’s budget. The candidate was even ecstatic about relocation. It seemed like a match made in heaven.

Unfortunately, a number of scheduling snafus caused by the client—last-minute interview no-shows or re-schedulings—made the candidate very nervous. As a result, they rescinded their application. In the end, the candidate couldn’t picture working for a company “that didn’t really seem to have it together,” as they stated in their withdrawal explanation.

And so our client remains, unfortunately, without coverage in a critical area of their business with no other qualified candidates interested in the position.

What can you do? Fortunately, there are things you can do before and during the interview process to avoid this, and ensure the right candidates perceive your company as an attractive option.

Be transparent.

Candidates don’t like to be left wondering what the next step is in the process. When scheduling the first interview, include an outline about what they can expect. You could say something like, “Your first conversation will be a phone screening. After that, we’ll set up a Skype interview with HR. If we both feel like it’s a good fit, we’ll invite you for an in-person interview at our headquarters.”

Confirm.

To avoid last-minute interview cancellations or reschedulings, which can make your company look disorganized and unprofessional, confirm all interview times with interviewees and interviewers via a scheduling software that includes reminders, like Google Calendar.

Communicate.

Throughout the entire process, communicate with the candidate. Let them know when they can expect to hear back after an interview, and communicate clearly and openly about key deciding factors like salary and bonus potential.

Remember, in the current job market, candidates are evaluating your company as much as you’re evaluating them. Take action now to make sure your candidates perceive your company as a great place to work.