Human Resources Blog - Spark Hire

How To Talk About Organizational Leadership With Candidates

As you interview job candidates, you’ll need to hit on hot button issues they inevitably want to know more about. Things like salary, the kinds of clients you work with, upcoming projects, and job expectations need to be discussed to ensure that everyone is on the same page. However, potential new hires will also have questions about the kinds of people leading your organization.

Remember, as much as you’re weighing whether a job candidate would be a good fit for your business, these professionals are also analyzing whether your organization would mesh well with their own values and preferences. The kind of leadership that exists within a business plays a large role in that choice.

Here’s how to effectively talk about your organizational leadership in a way that makes sense to job candidates:

Highlight the vision and values of leadership

Many professionals involved with hiring know the importance of painting a company’s vision and values clearly to a would-be new employee. They want this individual to get a sense of what working for this business is all about. How do new ideas get developed? How are projects tackled? What is the energy within the office like? While all of this is an essential part of the interviewing process, sometimes people forget to go even further.

Beyond talking about what the company stands for, dig deeper and touch on what the managers within that business are like, as they directly contribute to company culture. Do they value new ideas? How about constructive criticism? Do they like to promote from within? What kind of review process do they have in place for their employees when it comes to raises and feedback?

The kind of manager you work for contributes significantly to an employee’s experience, so make sure to give an accurate and honest assessment of what top organizational leadership is like.

Give real examples about how they communicate

Even if this individual isn’t on the payroll yet, you can be certain that they’ll appreciate some insight into how their potential manager communicates. Do they send a barrage of emails at 5 a.m. when they get up to swim laps before the workday begins? If so, do they expect an instant response from their team at this hour, or is a reply at a more reasonable time acceptable? Is their manager respectful about not texting or emailing in the evening once everyone has gone home? What kind of attitude have they adopted toward employee vacations? Do they still expect team members to be reachable, or are they more of the mindset that they should have a good time, unwind, and relax?

Be honest when discussing this topic, because this can often influence someone’s final decision about whether this business would be a good fit for them. Even if it turns out the manager’s viewpoint on work is too out of sync with the candidate’s own, it’s better to know before you make an offer, get this person trained, and then 90 days in have to find someone new to fill their role when they quit.

Give some insight and background into their personalities

Beyond just communication style, job candidates can benefit from learning about their potential managers on a human level, too. Is Manager A an extrovert who can chat with anyone or is she more of an introverted type who prefers one-on-one discussions? Perhaps Manager B is a highly regimented individual who appreciates receiving meeting notes in advance, or maybe he’s a more go-with-the-flow type who prefers to let everyone brainstorm as a group and doesn’t want a strict schedule to stifle things.

This background information helps to paint a clear picture of what day-to-day office life would be like for a new employee. You don’t need to start talking about how many children or dogs the manager has has or whether they spend their free time on the golf course or volunteering, but taking a few minutes to reflect on the type of professional they are is valuable.

Illustrate the kinds of people who have had success in the past

Just because a certain type of person has succeeded within this organization in the past, doesn’t mean that type of individual will succeed in the future. There’s always room for different personality types within a business. In fact, diversity is important for growth. However, understanding trends can help recruiters and hiring managers predict to some degree of accuracy whether this kind of employee will be successful in the future.

While a recruiter or other hiring personnel can do their best to give a potential employee specific insight about what a manager and an office are like, leadership can and should be directly involved in the process.

When managers step in and take an active role in the hiring process, they’re able to offer candidates a three-dimensional look at office life. Rather than having to take a recruiter’s word for it or trust the information they read on a website, the job seeker is able to get a sense of what their boss would be like, should they accept a position. If you’re a manager looking to become more involved in the hiring process, here are some easy steps to take:

Record a short video introduction that greets candidates as they go through the interview process

Even if it’s not feasible to attend each and every interview your hiring manager goes through, you can make an impression on potential hires. Record a short video introducing yourself to the candidate, including a few facts about yourself and why you love working for the company. The piece doesn’t have to be long to make an impression. Even just a minute or two is enough to be impactful.

Be involved in the process

The hiring process is time consuming, but getting involved in any way you can will pay dividends when it comes to finding an employee who is actually a good fit for your business. Make it a point to sit in on interviews when appropriate. While you may not find it necessary to be present for the earliest vetting sessions, being around for later interviews allows you to weigh in on whether you believe this person would be a good fit for your team. 

If a candidate is getting a tour of the office, say hello, and field any questions they may have. If your hiring manager is doing video interviews, make it a point to watch several of these pre-recorded replies from potential new hires so you can get a sense of the kind of people who may be joining your staff.  

Add a human element to your website

Company websites are more important than ever before when it comes time to fill an open role. Candidates look at these sites for information about the job, as well as a sense of what this business is all about. Does the company appear to be fun and creative? Professional and buttoned-up? Somewhere in between? While they’re combing through the site for details on the position and where to submit materials to apply, they might also be looking for some clues about the kinds of people they would be working alongside.

To paint this picture even more clearly, many businesses rely on a separate section that details the company’s management professionals. This section can include either candid photographs or headshots of the managers, as well as short bios about these people. Depending on the kind of company, you might also consider adding a few fun, irreverent questions to give an even better look at who this individual is.

Businesses need to be held accountable when it comes to analyzing their top leadership, and how these individuals impact the hiring process. The way managers interface with employees directly impacts turnover rates and recruiting abilities, as well as the ability to nab word-of-mouth referrals from current team members. Therefore, it’s essential that these individuals are representing the company in the best possible way. Here are some ways businesses can ensure their managers are aiding with recruiting efforts properly:

Put a process into place to review leaders regularly

In order to talk accurately about your organizational leadership, you need to have an up-to-date, non-biased opinion on what these management professionals are all about. When you’re all working together for years on end, it can be easy to get so acclimated to someone’s leadership style that you don’t realize when problems begin to develop. Someone may begin abusing their power within the company or may stop taking their role as seriously as they need to, but the shift happens over such a long period of time that it’s almost indistinguishable to long-time colleagues.

To prevent this from happening, you’ll need a system of checks and balances to keep you aware of changes. Asking each leader to periodically go through a review process ensures the brand’s management is always making the best possible decisions for the company. You can feel certain that year in and year out, these individuals are making the organization a great place for both veteran and new employees to work.

Employ self-analysis techniques

Each employee within the business, regardless of their level, should also be encouraged to partake in regular self-analysis in order to ensure that they’re contributing positively to that organization. Those who don’t regularly stop and reflect on what they’re doing well and where they can improve will eventually stall out. This lack of enthusiasm can spread to new hires, creating a toxic environment for everyone involved.

Whether this time for self-analysis is designated by management or simply encouraged on one’s own timetable, it’s an important part of making sure the business continues to evolve.

Consider the use of personality tests

Understanding what kinds of people typically succeed within your business is an important part of hiring successfully in the future. It’s great to say, “We usually do well with extroverted people” or “We look for creative types,” but in reality, it also helps to go deeper than that.

Many hiring professionals find value in exploring the personality types of both current employees and potential new hires. Instead of just guessing what kinds of people you have working for you, learn a little more about these individuals. How do they work in groups? How do they communicate? How do they process information? Use this information to inform your hiring process, ensuring that you’re building a team that will remain diverse yet cohesive.

While it may seem as if a job interview is all about salary, benefits, and a discussion about the kinds of project that business handles, in reality, discussing the leadership found within that organization is an essential part of the dialogue, too.

Professionals are heavily invested in the notion of company culture today, so they want to know who they’re going to work for and what it will be like when they arrive on their first day. Giving them this description, free of sugarcoating or dramatizing, allows them to evaluate whether the organization appears to be a good fit for them. Just as you’re analyzing their fit, they’re analyzing whether their values align with what your business offers, so providing as much information as possible is crucial.

What are some other points about organizational leadership do you need to discuss with candidates? Share in the comments below!

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.