By Mohammed Faraz Khan, Principal & Head – G.A.P Practice, Zinnov; Priyanka Kumar, Engagement Manager, Zinnov
An organization’s employer brand manifests in multiple ways. While the more visible channels of brand dissemination that organizations rely on are popular media and social media channels, there are more implicit ways in which the employer value proposition gets defined and delivered to people an organization intends to hire. The Talent Acquisition process of an organization is one such channel, often ignored, but a markedly loud channel that has an amplifying effect on the brand perception of an organization in the ecosystem.
To begin with, a closer scrutiny of the current dynamics of the employment market reveals that contrary to popular perception, a hiring process is not a unilateral process led solely by the employer anymore. It has evolved into a bilateral process between two parties – the employer and the prospective employee.
As much as the company assesses the candidate, the candidate also draws inferences – subtle and tacit, from all the touchpoints. Which implies that, to get the right talent, the onus is as much on the employer to attract the candidates by providing a positive experience throughout the recruitment journey. In essence, one could restart by saying that there is an equitable distribution of power on both sides.
Here are the common derailers that can potentially cause dents on the organization’s employer branding during the hiring process.
1) Not sharing a Job Description – A Job Description (JD) is the most elementary requirement that managers and HR professionals must invest time in preparing, before they can even begin to hire. The JD is the guiding code of what the organization is looking for – the essentials and good-to-have qualities, skills, and competencies in a prospective hire. The way a JD articulates the job purpose and key performance indicators of a job could either upsell or desell the role to the candidates. So, weigh in every word for what it’s worth on a JD.
2) Delaying the scheduled start time of the interview – Making a candidate wait inordinately long before starting the interview only speaks of unprofessionalism, and dent your employer value proposition. Value time, that of candidates and the hiring managers. It can be quite a drain on energy for candidates to wait; more so when they could be experiencing a bit of stress related to the interview they hope to ace. Professionalism is another important yardstick of a favorable employer brand.
3) Passing judgmental remarks – Interviewers sometimes assume a position of authority and are quick to pass comments that reflect their judgement on the candidate. ake time to hear the interviewee’s perspective, listen with intent, and go beyond the superficial before assessing the potential of the individual. It is most often the vital clue in evaluating the Person – Organization fit, which is a predictor of employee engagement; and that again, is a barometer of the attention paid to the organization’s employer branding.
4) Probing personal questions – A lot of interviewers and recruiters take the liberty to ask personal questions related to candidate’s family set-ups and subsequent location preferences, especially to female candidates. The prevalent psychology is that women will make career choices that are aligned with their family situations. This is again a stereotype that organizations must guard against; and if anything, this only gives an impression of “exclusion” and a workplace that isn’t conducive to the very real needs of a diverse workforce.
If the organization is aiming to build an employer brand that is known for inclusion, it is worth the investment to train the interview panel on recognizing and unlearning any conscious or unconscious biases they may be holding.
5) Projecting a withdrawn body language – Communication is as much about the body language as it is about what is spoken. Some barriers to effective communication include avoiding eye contact, lukewarm handshakes, forgetting to smile, not exchanging pleasantries, and missing introductions. For the candidates, all these can simply translate to ‘signals of disinterest’ from the interviewer. And this disinterest can be contagious – sooner or later it will reflect in the other person’s interactions too. This could be a potential cause for the failure of the interview process. Developing a comfortable rapport is key to bring out the best in people in the short span of an interview, and subsequently have them inclined to join the organization.
6) Taking a limited view of the compensation offer – While making an offer to the candidate, do recruiters miss to see the “real worth” of the individual? That is, the summation of their expertise, experience, attitude, fitment with respect to the role and organization, and compensation range for an equivalent role internally and externally. Candidates seek fair compensation, and a fundamental disconnect in this sensitive area could lead to a failed negotiation. In the era of knowledge economy, companies that have a favorable employer brand pay for the “worth” and compensate the “value” that an individual brings to the table.
7) Failure to sell the role and the organization – This is one crime that most interviewers and recruiters are guilty of, presumably on two grounds – one, they rely on the magnanimity of the brand of the organization, and two, they are uninspired themselves! If it is the latter, recruiters must be cognizant that an aspirational candidate is looking for an inspiring leader to work for. A well-pitched role and organization are the starting points for creating a differentiated employer brand. They need to talk about the company’s culture, leadership, probable career paths, benefits, business ecosystem, and the socio-economic value that the company has created, to create the desire for the interviewee to feel inspired enough to join the company.
8) Not sharing timely updates on the selection process – Organizations must be mindful of the fact that candidates who are in an active job search process operate with a sense of urgency. Their engagement level wanes with lapse of time, and it is easy for them to assume that the company is not keen to take the selection process forward. Moreover, every candidate deserves closure. So, recruiters may have to invest that extra time in letting the interviewees know their decision. This emanates a sense of fairness for the organization’s employer brand.
A well-thought-out hiring process can help selected candidates join the organization on a positive high, and thereby reduce the risk of infant mortality — a challenge quite a few organizations grapple with. These simple tips for recruiters and hiring managers could enhance the quality of connect with the prospective talent pool and turn a lot of passive candidates into actives, thus creating a lasting impression of the organization’s employer brand. A candidate who has experienced a favorable hiring process in an organization could become an advocate for the organization by referring others, or sharing positive ratings on popular sites such as Glassdoor, Indeed, etc., thereby generating aspiration for others.
Hence, employer brand is disseminated through a multiplier effect; and the Talent Acquisition process might just as well be the missing link!
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