Interviewing is a 2-Sided Coin. With Passive Candidates, Selling the Company and the Position Count

July 15th, 2013

The candidate paradigm has shifted.

American corporations are used to interviewing candidates who are actively or semi-actively looking for another position. The organization has an expectation of a candidate coming into its environment, being treated however convenient, and then interviewed by interviewers who are unrehearsed / unprepared and having the expectation “the candidate would be lucky to have a position with our company”.

While the organizations do know the definition of a passive candidate, they have not yet translated that knowledge into what that means by modifying hiring managers/interviewers expectations and the overall thinking focused on the candidate selection process.

A passive candidate by definition is one who isn’t looking for another position actively, but if made aware of another interesting position, may pursue it. This alone makes a huge difference in the candidate’s attitude. The onus is on the interviewer and the company to acquire the information necessary from the candidate and provide them the data necessary to create the interest.

What is the major process modification necessary to attract the passive candidate? The organization and position must be “sold” to the candidate.  Passive candidates have jobs – potentially nice jobs they might not be interested in leaving for uncertain opportunities presenting risk.

How to get started

Within the interview process exists absolutes:

1)     Most want to see their potential, future work environment, and not be locked in a conference room for a marathon 3-4 interview process.  The candidate should see the environment no matter where the interview is conducted.

2)     Candidates need to be given breaks between interviews, offered water, food (lunch if appropriate).

3)     Candidates going through interviews need to be shown they are valued and will be appreciated. The same courtesies need to be paid as if they were a customer. No candidates should ever have bad things to say about a company after they have interviewed.

4)     Every candidate needs to receive the full attention of the interviewer (i.e. no cell phones, computers, pagers, etc.) and receive company recruiting and branding marketing materials.

5)     Do not make the assumption that candidates come prepared. They are as much interested in what the interviewer can do to impress them, information they can gain to determine interest vs. what they can do to impress the interviewing team.  Coming prepared for the interview and interviewing well doesn’t do one thing to validate outstanding past performance, depth of experience, or success related motivation. Keep in mind, the candidates are the ones being recruited and pursued.

During the first or second interview, someone’s role will be to gather candidate information.  This may be the hiring manager, a recruiter (either external or internal), or an HR person involved in the selection process.

The information gathered will provide all interviewers with solid information to build a solid understanding of:

  • Candidate’s reasons for looking outside their current employer?
  • Negatives or concerns the candidate might have about the potential employer and/or job?
  •  Candidate’s desired characteristics of a future role and company?
  • Candidate’s general and/or personal interests?

How to conduct the interview

This interview should be the last one and conducted as a separate, distinct part of the selection-process (perhaps lunch or dinner?) by a well-versed subject matter company expert. This person needs to be knowledgeable about the role, company, and candidate information. And, given that, be able to:

  • Subtly sell the company, the job, the brand, and the culture.
  • Have prepared topics that can be shared and discussed.
  • Address important issues around candidate information aligned with the information given by the candidate.
  • Strike a 50/50+ balance in the conversation. In any conversation, the one that talks the most feels better about the exchange.
  • Answer any questions or concerns the candidate may have before offer. This is not an evaluation meeting, one purely for the candidate. Don’t have this meeting if there is no intention to make an offer.

At Honer & Associates, we have over 30 years’ experience in effectively managing the interview process.  If you have any additional questions about interviewing proven IT professionals, please contact us at your convenience.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *