Working in the business development field over the last six years has taught me much. Aside from the direct professional experience I gained in my various positions, which taught me how to build and maintain relationships, I learned a great deal about the corporate recruiting processes. Whether they were processes I was going through myself, or processes I watched quietly from the sidelines.
In the beginning, the Covid-19 crisis created massive unemployment, as many companies lost business and had to layoff many employees. Fast forward nearly 18 months later, the market is showing great recovery strides from the effects of Covid-19 on the economy and with that, many job opportunities. Aside from my day job, I mentor and coach people who are at a crossroads in their career and are looking for their next challenge. I help them do so in a calculated and informed way, to save themselves the frustration and time-consuming effects of the job hunt.
In the following blog I would like to share with you one of the most impressive and efficient recruiting processes I have ever seen. I found it to be the right mix between a thorough process and one which is respectful of the applicants time and effort.
First step: HR interview
This step is important because at this stage the candidate can get important high-level knowledge about the role and the company, including company values and culture. This is also a good place to discuss salary. Sometimes, the gap in expectations between the applicant and the company is so great that there is no point to continue with the recruiting process after this stage.
Second step: an interview with the direct supervisor
I find this stage as less of an interview and more of a 360-degree conversation. The common approach is that the candidate is the one who needs to persuade the interviewer that he/she are a “good enough fit” for the company. However, similarly, to building relationships with friends or with a partner, both sides need to work in order for the match to be successful. Hence, both sides should look for good chemistry. In the end of the day, we spend most of our time at work, so we should make sure we get along with our direct management. This means sharing the same values and setting expectations in advance as to the role and responsibilities. Moreover, this is the time to understand what your professional development journey as an employee in the company would look like: how does the manager see your development route and how he/she is willing to facilitate it.
Step three: home assignment and presentation
I often find that an assignment that is a part of an interview process is disrespectful, because it requires time and effort from the candidate, and the outcome can be a solution or material that the interviewing company may use. However, some assignments can also serve as a great opportunity for candidates, who may use assignments as a way to gauge whether or not the company’s culture and product are of interest to them. For example: (1) an assignment requires a large degree of prior knowledge in a specific professional area; (2) it involves a lot of analysis that the candidate has no background in; (3) it requires a sales pitch for a product or solution that the candidate has no connection to or understanding of whatsoever. These can serve as indicators for whether or not the position and the company are a good fit. By presenting the assignment and the interviewer’s follow-up questions, you can test the dynamics with your potential manager and how you approach challenges. Moreover, if you have challenges with interviewing (stress, too excited etc.) those assignments are an opportunity to show your strengths and high motivation to get the role.
Step four: Speaking with references from prior workplaces.
Usually, I don’t like requests to speak with former managers, because what happened in the past belongs in the past, and like the old saying goes: “people don’t leave jobs, they leave bosses”. However, I think there is an important lesson here about life as a long journey and the importance of not burning bridges. It’s legitimate to leave a job, but keep in mind that you never know where or when you will meet your former boss: try to leave in a respectful manner and maintain a good, or at least a fair relationship with them if possible. It is much stronger and more convincing that a former boss recommends you to your next boss, even if you had professional disagreements. Furthermore, there are situations where you might receive a better opportunity that will advance your career and you would like your former employer to speak greatly about your contribution to the organization.
Step five: Employment terms
This is the final step and should be addressed very seriously. Many times, we are so eager to sign a contract that we miss important details, such as benefits we receive from the company. Many times, the basic salary might not be very high, but all the benefits are “money equivalents” that can change the entire scope of the offer.
Looking forward, here are my two cents
Millennials (the age group that I belong to) are well known as those who “jump” from one job to another. According to The 2019 Deloitte Millennial Survey, 49% of Millennials would quit their job within the next two years. However, I think one of the major reasons for this phenomenon is a lack in professional development plans and opportunities for employees. I believe that managers who look at their employees as the company’s most important resource, and behave accordingly, will get more out of them, and increase retention. If an employee feels that they’re seen, develop and continue growing, they might very well prefer to stay at their current workplace for a longer period.
In my opinion, the professional development approach is a topic that should very well be presented during the first and second interview, otherwise, it may reflect a lot about the company’s culture and approach towards their employees. This also shows us that anyone looking for their next challenge should consider whether professional and personal development is important to them, and if so, make it a priority during their job search process.