Rule No. 1
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Rule No. 1

What your recruiting process makes me think about your culture

I spent a lot of time during my senior year of college interviewing for jobs. Sometimes, I’d apply for a position simply because I fit the prerequisites. Sometimes for more meaningful reasons. And every time, I went into the interview wanting to know as much about the company as they wanted to know about me.

But I noticed that on every interview, regardless of the industry, the answers to my questions were extremely similar. Every interviewer will tell you that their company has a great culture with lots of mentorship and growth potential. Every company thinks that they are the ones doing it best, that they have the most innovative approach, that they are the future. So I stopped setting store by how interviewers describe the company they’re trying to promote. I started looking for nonverbal clues that could give me insight into a company’s ethos. And I found the recruiting process itself to be extremely revealing.

The difference between a company that invests deeply into its recruitment and a company that is just checking off boxes is palpable and speaks to the value they see in their prospective talent. Here are some specific areas that I pay attention to when evaluating my interview experience.

  1. The Email: The first thing I notice when I get a job interview is the way I’m told about it. Is the email congratulatory and exciting, or does it seem like it was written by a machine? While I understand and appreciate that HR sends a lot of emails and probably relies on templates for efficiency, there is an opportunity right from the very first message to leave me feeling excited and encouraged. The alternative is feeling disconnected, maybe even apprehensive.
  2. The scheduling: I also pay attention to the way the interview is scheduled. Did you ask for my availability, or did you assign me a date and time and assume that I am able to make that work? Did HR reach out to confirm the appointment, or have I not heard from them since their initial message? Bonus points if HR schedules a phone call prior to my interview just to get to know me a little better!
  3. The Reception: The day of the interview — is there somebody waiting for me when I enter the office, or does the receptionist not seem to know where to have me sit and wait? (I’ve even been left standing by the front desk for a half hour!) Do they offer you anything to drink, do you have to awkwardly look for the restrooms by yourself? These nuances might seem trivial, but they really affect how you feel going into the meeting — your confidence, your interest, etc.
  4. The Interview: The interview itself is obviously very telling. Do you feel like the interviewer is making an effort to get to know you as a person, or do they focus exclusively on your resume? Do they ask you interesting questions, or do you feel you aren’t able to show off the way you think? Did the interviewer end up speaking for the majority of the time, or did they seem genuinely interested in what you had to say? Did it feel like a conversation, or an interrogation?
  5. The Goodbye: When the interview ends, did someone walk me out and briefly outline what potential next steps may be? Did they let me know when I can expect to hear back? Did my interviewers respond to my carefully crafted thank you emails, or did I never hear back? Did I come away from the experience feeling like the people I met are my allies?

The interview process can be terrifying to someone just entering the professional world, but companies have the power to alleviate this. Lead with empathy, treat interviewees like humans as opposed to options and show that you are invested in the people that make up your organization. This can be the difference between a candidate choosing you over your competition.

And beyond this, it can be the difference between an organization whose people are passionate about their place of work and are motivated to put forth their best, and an organization whose people punch in and punch out, doing the bare minimum for their bimonthly paychecks. When a person feels respected and invested in, they strive to be worthy of that appreciation. And this can all start in the recruiting process.

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