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Make Better First Impressions During Hiring Process

How To Make Better First Impressions On Candidates During the Hiring Process

While job seekers are focused on wowing hiring managers in order to snag an offer, it’s equally important that those tasked with finding new talent make a positive impression, too.

As the job market gets more competitive for hiring managers, a strong first impression helps your business stand out and continue to attract the most qualified professionals that your field has to offer.

When you’re looking to promote your employer brand by putting your company’s best foot forward during the job interview process, consider these tips:

Clearly state job requirements

You’d be surprised how many hiring managers try to fill an open role without knowing exactly who or what they’re seeking. This makes the hiring process confusing for everyone involved.

Before you begin bringing candidates in for an interview, be sure that everyone involved knows what the job entails.

  • What kinds of tasks will the person be doing?
  • What are the short- and long-term goals associated with the position?
  • To whom do they report?
  • What is the salary range?
  • Which colleagues will they be working with most closely?
  • What kinds of clients can they expect to service?
  • What type of experience is necessary to excel in this role?
  • Is any formal training or certification required?

Hammering out these details before you begin hiring is essential to avoid wasting candidates’ time.

You should also have these details in writing, so all applicants can be aware of what to expect before they submit their materials. Working off the cuff with regard to a job description makes your business look unprofessional.

Be honest about what you’re looking for

You may be tempted to beef up your job description to attract the best talent, but you’ll only end up burning bridges. It’s important to be transparent during all parts of the interview process.

If you’re looking for a salesperson and the job requires a lot of cold calling, make this known. If you’re looking for an account manager and they’ll only be dealing with one type of client, let them know what kind of work they can expect to do should they receive an offer.

You don’t want to hire someone, only to have them quit two weeks in because the position wasn’t at all what they expected due to a misleading job description.

Know what you need out of the person who fills the role

It’s likely your candidate will have follow-up questions as the interview is concluding, and some of these inquiries may pertain to the type of person you’re looking for as you go through the hiring process.

They may want to know what kind of person has filled the role before. What type of professional is usually successful within your company? Are you a bunch of extroverts, or more of a mixed bag?

Be prepared with a thorough assessment in case the topic comes up. While you don’t want to get too narrow as you create the ideal candidate in your mind, you should have some semblance of an idea about what you’re looking for as you begin the interview process — and be comfortable talking about it with applicants.

All individuals involved in the hiring process should be prepared

Whether you’re handling the hiring on your own or rely on a panel-style interview to complete the process, everyone involved should be prepared before you bring candidates in. This means you’ve looked over each applicant’s resume and cover letter, know what you want to ask, can give them an idea about how long the hiring process will take, can provide details about what the position entails, and can explain what the next steps will be.

While many hiring managers feel pressure to get an open role filled as quickly as possible, it’s important not to begin the interview process until you’re completely prepared. Bringing candidates in when you lack information or feel disjointed gives a negative impression to those who have applied for the job and can cause you to miss out on the best candidates, as they may choose to go elsewhere.

Be transparent about communication throughout hiring

Candidates repeatedly express frustration with the lack of communication during the hiring process. Trying to find a job is stressful enough, but not knowing where they stand during the interview process only makes it more confusing.

They thought their second interview went well, but now it’s been a week and they haven’t heard anything, so they’re left wondering whether they should continue submitting their resume as aggressively as they once were.

Show the job seekers who applied to your opening that you respect their time and energy by practicing good communication from start to finish during your hiring process.

Let them know when they can expect to hear from you, and ask them how they’d prefer to be contacted. Some people find a phone call much easier, while others can’t answer the telephone during the day, making email the best option.

Offer honest feedback to those who don’t receive an offer

Telling someone you don’t have room for them at your company is never a pleasant task, but you can play an important role in their professional development. If there was a specific reason why they didn’t get the job, consider letting them know.

For example, perhaps they didn’t have enough knowledge in one specific area. Be upfront with them about this so they can beef up this area of their resume. Maybe the person you went with had a professional certification that made them a more desirable candidate.

Let those who didn’t get an offer know so they can consider pursuing this additional training in order to become more competitive during future job searches.

Choose the proper interview space

The environment in which you choose to conduct an interview has a significant impact on how the conversation goes.

Though it may not feel important, choosing a loud, busy space causes distractions for both interviewer and job seeker. If you’re straining to hear one another over a raucous sales meeting or half of your staff enjoying a lunch break, it will be hard to have a serious, focused conversation. On the other hand, a dimly-lit, stark room can feel unwelcoming to those coming in to discuss job opportunities.

Be open to choosing a location outside of your normal office space, as well. Many hiring managers find that coffee shops or other off-campus sites lend themselves to a more relaxed job interview than the traditional conference room setting.

Test the technology ahead of time

If you’ll need to incorporate technology into your discussion — perhaps you want to show a short PowerPoint presentation or you’d like to bring up your company’s website on a projector — make sure you’re completely comfortable with the functionality of the software ahead of time.

There are few things that look worse than when you have to bring in additional hands to get technology issues resolved so you can continue on with your interview. It gives off an unprofessional appearance, and grinds the interview process to a halt. This can cause the candidate to question whether your business is truly up-to-date on the latest technology, and may encourage them to seek opportunities with businesses that have a better grasp on these details.

Don’t skip the small talk

While keeping the interview process running on time is crucial, bringing a candidate in and immediately drilling them on their previous work experience and educational background makes the whole thing feel uncomfortable and sterile.

Take two or three minutes to make the person feel welcome by making casual conversation. This makes the discussion feel more natural and helps put the candidate at ease.

Keep your social media up to date

Before submitting their materials to your company, a responsible job seeker will probably scope out your company to see what you’re all about. What kinds of clients do you take on? Have you won any notable awards or honors? What does the atmosphere within your office appear to be like?

One way they’ll do this is by checking out your online presence. If your website and social media are desperately outdated, it sends a bad message to those who may be interested in applying for a job at your company.

While you may be great at customer service, the fact that you don’t pay attention to your online presence can illustrate that you’re out of touch with this important aspect of doing business in 2017. As a result, you may lose out on top-tier talent, who will decide instead to apply with a more tech-savvy and forward-thinking firm.

Try to keep the process as on-schedule as possible

While some delays may be inevitable as you’re interviewing, make an effort to move the process along as quickly as you can. Sure, you’ll want to make small talk with a candidate before immediately diving into an intense conversation, but don’t let yourself get into a half-hour discussion of your favorite Netflix shows.

If you’re doing a panel interview and one person is late, don’t wait 20 minutes for them to arrive. Instead, get started without them and let them catch up when they’re able. A candidate who shows up to find that you’re running 45 minutes behind schedule for their interview will question how professional the business is.

Respect your own time, as well as the job seeker’s, to make a positive first impression.

Make sure they’re greeted warmly

The hiring manager isn’t the only person who plays a role in the interview process. Your company’s receptionist has a major influence on the first impression your company creates, so make sure he or she gives off the kind of positive vibes you hope your business radiates.

If this person is cold and unfriendly, the candidate will immediately have a negative impression of your company. Yet, if they’re engaging, this individual will feel at home and probably less nervous about the process.

Considering the first impression your business gives off ensures you’re making a positive impact right away on each potential new hire you see. While it may not seem small details like how your receptionist greets candidates or the kind of room in which you conduct interviews matters, paying attention to these components of the process allows you to give off a polished and put together first impression. This can make your business stand out among the completion and help you recruit top-tier talent.

Don’t let a bad first impressions scare off the best candidates. Download our eBook, Give Candidates The Best Interview Experience With This Expert Advice.

Lauren Levine

Lauren Levine is a copywriter/blogger who contributes to a number of magazines and websites including The Frisky, USA Today, and others. She also authors her own blog called Life with Lauren. She loves cooking, anything on the E! network, and is trying to convince herself that running isn't so bad.

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