As a leader with a lot of responsibilities, it’s likely that there are very few people as passionate about promoting your organization. When you’re in public or visiting with friends, the conversation will tend to turn to whatever is happening with your organization. It’s just that important to you. That’s a good thing. You want to promote your organization and to encourage people to think about your organization, too. As a result, you're in the public relations world for your business.
There is one area, however, where some owners and executives are failing badly when it comes to placing their organizations in the most positive light. Here it is: it matters a great deal on how we treat those we interview for leadership positions in our organizations.
There have been two major negative trends in today’s organizations – consider these and see if you can think of instances where they apply to organizations you know:
Many owners and executives take on a different personality when they hire someone.
When we as leaders are promoting our organizations, we tend to take on a more humble, gracious personality. We’re approachable, gentle and simply a nicer person, because we want to look good and we want to make our organization look good, too. When we attend parties and events, we tend to be the nicest, most approachable people in the world. We smile, we are engaging, and we’re just really nice. For whatever reason, however, everything shifts for some people when they’re on the other side of the desk, interviewing candidates. They think that they are swapping roles and that it’s up to the applicant to sell themselves.
As a result, they tend to go into the “I’m the one with the power” mode and start to demand to be impressed. They choose to be distant, skeptical, and, sometimes, just downright mean. For many of these people, they do it because they want to see what someone will do under pressure. Many others don’t want to “show their hand” and indicate that they want to hire the candidate – so they disconnect themselves emotionally. For a select few, they hate the process and they could care less if the process is miserable for the candidates as well.
Many owners and executives pay no mind to the length of the interview and hiring process.
It seems like a growing trend for many owners and executives to “take our time” in hiring someone for an open position. They like to “think about whether it’s a good fit” when it comes to hiring a leader in their organization. The series of interviews stretches for weeks, then months. When the conversations about making a final decision are held with the leadership team, in many cases the general consensus is usually “either one would be good.” The reason is simple: the team knows that the hiring executive is making the decision and the team doesn’t want to offend the executive by picking the wrong person.
As a result, no decision is made at that point. Then the hiring manager/leader/owner then sits on the decision for a week or so and then for a little while longer as he/she heads out on a business trip. The process keeps going on and on. Eventually, a decision is reached and the hiring executive extends the invitation – but at a price. The team now maintains the impression that this is how they are supposed to hire team members, and this process permeates the organization.
Many organizations choose a computerized process for managing applicants that is ineffective.
Human resource software programs are becoming more popular. As a result, our organizations now require that applicants apply for positions through these programs. The programs score applicants based on key words in their resumes and cover letters. After the applications come in and the process to receive them is complete, the program spits out a report and we get to see the “best qualified” candidates, based on an algorithm. We tend to invite the top people on the report and we move on to the next step.
In the meanwhile, the computer program gives us the option to inform the other applicants that they are not being considered for the position. In many cases, we don’t inform them at all. The algorithm may not be as effective as we need it to be. As a result, we may have missed many, or all, of the best candidates. Additionally, we don’t inform applicants about where they are in the process. They get the impression that they are not valued or respected. In the future, they choose not to apply again.
Why do these points matter? Here’s why:
Most prospective candidates are in your industry – and they talk to others.
If you’re inviting highly qualified candidates
, you’re most likely dealing with well-connected candidates. They talk to their friends and co-workers in the industry. They share the details of their application or candidate process for your organization. They've just became an extension of public relations department for your organization. The last thing that you want to happen is for them to start talking badly about you and your organization.
If you’re being surly and mean in the interviewing process, they’re going to share that insight with others. As a result, you’re not likely to get as many highly qualified candidates in the future. No one wants to work with “that” company which has the bad reputation. If you keep a highly qualified candidate waiting for weeks or months to make a decision, the candidate will eventually realize that the organization can’t or won’t make a decision quickly. They will look at that pattern as being ineffective.
Most of your team members want to be proud of your organization – and they talk to others.
If you have a great organization, your team members talk about it. Frankly, they love to talk about where they work. They are a public relations representative for your organization They are more likely to invite others to come and join their teams. Conversely, if they don’t trust the leadership of the organization, or any incentive to work at the organization, they’ll avoid talking to others about any opportunities.
As the saying goes, “birds of a feather flock together.” Great team members hang around other great team members. They also hang out with potentially great team members. Think of them as a part of your public relations effort. If your team members know that the hiring process is fair, they will encourage prospective team members to apply.
If, however, the process drags for a long time, they won’t bother inviting the candidates you want. The best candidates are most likely already working in secure positions. Your team members don’t want to discredit their reputations by putting a friend through a painstaking process.
Most owners and executives want respect and friendship in their industries – and they talk to others.
If you value the opinions of others in your industry, you will want to maintain a high level of respect in your community. Part of those maintenance efforts includes the systems and strategies for how you hire and lead your team. You want to be the leader of “that” organization which everyone wants to work for and to do business.
When people you highly respect send you recommendations of highly-qualified candidates, you know you’re doing things right. People asking for interviews is always a positive indication. When people are asking to meet with you to talk about your organization, that's a good sign. That's public relations in the most effective form.
Even if you choose not to hire certain candidates, it's good when those candidates want to maintain relationships with you. It is because you treated them well throughout the interview process. Watch if no one seems to be applying to work at your organization, even when there are good opportunities available. If so, you need to consider that your organization’s reputation is not as strong as it needs to be.
Always consider that your biggest fans are usually those who know you and your organization well. Let them be part of your public relations efforts, too. That includes those candidates who enter the interview process with you and your team. When you consider opportunities to promote your organization
, always promote your organization well as a public relations representative to those who get to see the “inside” of it as they go through the candidate process.