Last month I shared an article about evaluating and attracting candidates through a simple interviewing technique. You can see that article here. This month I am turning the tables from seeking the story of the candidate to telling your (corporate) story. Again, if this is done well, it attracts and reveals the best candidates. I have often commented that interviewing is a relationship-formation process – one which involves mutuality. Both parties sharing who they are and exploring the other. In other words, an authentic getting to know each other. There are some companies (not a lot) that do a great job of getting to know candidates but very few that do a great job of understanding how to share their own story in a revealing and attractive manner to candidates. What are companies missing you ask? Well, that is what I will share with you today.
For starters, telling your (corporate) story requires the same approach that a candidate is required to follow when telling their story. That requirement? Get beyond the whats. All companies will quickly tell you what their values are, what their key strategies are, what their strengths and weaknesses are, what their assets and liabilities are, etcetera. It will not be until you move beyond the whats that your story will come to life. Candidates will more clearly see themselves working with you when they understand the hows and whys of your story. The hows and whys create a more personal and intimate relational encounter required by “high-demand” candidates before they will make a change. Here are a few simple examples of the types of hows and whys that could be incorporated into your story: demonstrate how you live your values every day; clarify why you have chosen a particular strategy; reveal how you see the future of your organization/market. Until your story authentically inculcates the hows and whys, your organizational story will blandly morph into every other organizational story out there and lack the force needed to attract the best candidates.
In addition to moving beyond the whats, there is a second requirement for organizations with regards to telling their story. This requirement is to deal with candidate (human) psychology. There are only two (psychological) reasons why candidates talk to me about opportunities. One, they see the potential for greater adventure in the story I shared, or two, they see greater security. It could be a combination of both. And by the way, your ping-pong tables, holistic health programs, and community outreach opportunities do little, if anything, to reveal who you are as an organization. A good recruiter will understand how to authentically formulate your story with an eye on adventure and security. Once formulated, the story will be brought to the candidate marketplace. It does NOT matter what the story is as long as it is authentic. Candidates will evaluate the level of adventure and/or security in the story. If they believe it may be greater than their current situation, and believe they can help you in the role, they will respond.
There is great value in this exercise. For example, if your organization is on the brink of bankruptcy and you are willing to be authentic with your story about your financial condition, the candidates who opt in to your story will be the candidates who are great at rescuing companies from the brink of financial extinction – which is exactly what you will need. If, on the other hand, you are insecure and don’t tell the truth of your financial condition, you probably will not find the best candidate for your organization and your situation. And worse yet, the person you do hire will probably leave you soon after taking the role. They will surely seek something that better aligns with their need for security, which will leave your organization even deeper in despair. The great value in this exercise is that an authentic story will create a deep pool of candidates who can actually help you and are willing to do so. If you manipulate your story to attract talented people, you will end up with a pool of talented people who may be unwilling or unable to actually help. I prefer the idea of creating a deep pool of candidates who can help and are willing to do so, and then picking the best of the bunch. Do not forget that the best of this bunch will require to know your hows and whys and not simply your whats.
One final tip on how to best share who you are as an organization. This tip has real efficiency in that it may serve the dual purpose of attracting and revealing more powerfully than anything discussed so far. As the candidate pool narrows (maybe 2-4 candidates), give each remaining candidate the charge of leading one step of the interview process in whatever way they desire. Give the candidate complete reign on who they would like to speak with (within some reason) and what they would like to discuss. Candidates will be thrilled with the transparency and openness (very attractive to candidates). Conversely, you will see most clearly what the candidate values by how they approach this exercise; with whom they choose to speak and the types of questions they ask (extremely revealing for you).
Executing a relational-based interview process in a time-constrained environment is certainly challenging. It is vital to extract efficiency at each step of the process for a maximum potential of success. Storytelling done authentically, along with a basic understanding of human psychology, will drive efficiency into your interview process. I hope the tips provided here, which have been refined and perfected over 20+ years of experience, help you in your efforts to build a high-performing team.