By Liza Ryan
If you can make one shift in your thinking, you can hire great people whenever you want to. It isn’t hard and it doesn’t cost a dime.
Here’s the shift:
You have to give up the idea that as a recruiter or a hiring manager, you’re in charge. You have to drop the idea that you’re the only person in the interview room with a decision to make.
You have to be willing to stop treating a job-seeker like a supplicant, or someone who’s expected to sit in the chair and answer questions like a fourth-grader taking an oral exam. You have to stop expecting job applicants to impress you.
You have to be human and work a little harder than you do in your interviews right now. You have to be just as willing to sell people on your company as you are willing to let them sell you on themselves.
That’s all you have to do!
I ran HR for U.S. Robotics as we grew from 106 employees to ten thousand employees and we never had a hard time recruiting. Recruiting is the easiest part of the HR function, by a mile.
When the energy is good in your company, people want to work for you. You don’t have to run job ads. You don’t have to beat the bushes to find candidates. They show up at your door!
Then you have to treat them like gold, whether you hire them or not.
And one other thing — you can’t ask them stupid, insulting interview questions!
A good interview is a conversation exactly like a conversation you’d have at a coffee shop when you’re meeting someone for the first time.
“I want you to hear about you!”
“No, you go first!”
“Okay! Well, I’m the HR Manager here. My job is to make this place an awesome place to work. What can I tell you about the company?”
“Can you tell me about the products you’re working on?”‘
“For sure! Here’s the story….”
If you assume that the people you’re interviewing for your open positions are smart and capable people — and why would you interview anyone else? — then you’re going to want to help them see why you’re excited about the company yourself.
You’re not going to sell them by running down your employee benefit plans – or worse, by quizzing them about every blip and deviation on their resume or asking them how long they’ve been using Excel.
You’re going to sell them on the organization by asking them what they care about and really listening to their answers, and then responding the way any good salesperson would.
You’re going to sell them on your company by being casual and friendly with them and letting them see that that’s what it will be like if they come and work with you.
They’ll be working hard, but they’ll be working among friends. Everybody will be pulling together. Everybody will have their back.
You’ll have to open the vault and tell them why you love your job — meaning you have to love your job. What’s the first rule of successful selling, again?
The first rule of selling is that you have to believe in the product. That goes double for anybody who’s interviewing job candidates!
When you’re excited about your job, you’ll be an evangelist for your organization.
If you can’t get it up to evangelize for your company, why in God’s name are you working there — much less in a recruiting capacity?
Real people respond to down-to-earth conversation, and guess what? You don’t have to ask your candidates a single question. Asking questions on a job interview is unnecessary and can only interrupt the flow of conversation.
If you don’t know how to start and maintain a human conversation, you shouldn’t be interviewing people in the first place.
If you need a script to get through a 45-minute conversation, you’re not an appropriate ambassador for your organization.
A job interview is not supposed to be an interrogation. Most of us have grown up with the idea that the interviewer asks questions and the job-seeker answers them, but that’s an Industrial Revolution holdover. It’s a tired paradigm that’s gone way past its expiration date and it smells.
Get rid of it, and relax into the idea that you’ll learn everything you need to know about a person by chatting with them about themselves and about you and the role and who knows what — wherever the conversation takes you.
Insulting interview questions like “What’s your greatest weakness?” and “With so many talented candidates, why should we hire you?” will kill any good energy you’ve managed to create between you and the applicant sitting with you.
Those idiotic questions can only reinforce the talent-repelling idea “Your job is to impress me — so get busy!”
If you want to hire the sheepiest and most desperate people, folks who will hate you for treating them like dirt and eventually hate themselves for taking the job, then by all means keep asking job-seekers “Where do you see yourself in five years?” and “If you were a can of soup, what kind of soup would you be?”
If your organization has a mission and you want to build a great team to carry out the mission, you have to step out of the Weenie Zone and be a human being in every job interview. You have to drop the fear that somebody might not recognize you as a powerful decision-maker.
You have to treat every interview as a meeting of equals. Nobody has the upper hand.
Do you go on dates assuming that the people you’re dating have to meet your requirements? Would you ask a date “What’s your greatest weakness?”
If you would, you are sick and need help. You have dominance issues that spring from anger and fear. Why should it work any differently in the business world?
You can tell jokes and laugh and have fun on a job interview. I spent way too many hours meeting job candidates not to have some fun in the process!
Recruiting that is fast and fun and human is not only more effective and more profitable for your organization, but it also sends the message far and wide “This company understands talent!”
Without that message resonating loud and proud out in the talent marketplace, you’ve got no shot at hiring the best people to join your team.
With it, you’re golden. Can you evolve out of the Weenie Zone and start treating every job interview like the pleasant, human getting-to-know-you exercise it’s always been, here in the Human Workplace?
Lisa Ryan is the CEO and Founder of human Workplace