I have the privilege of working with some of Colorado’s most admired companies. I also get insight into what works – and what doesn’t work during the candidate selection process. Coming out of the downturn, we’re in a highly competitive market – many companies are beginning to hire – and hire in volume again. If you are a smaller firm trying to compete for top talent with larger firms your hiring process can absolutely be your edge. You have the ability to be decisive, act quickly and make a hire without the overhead of larger firms. Here is how to do it:
1. Job Boards – No – Social Media – Yes. Large firms have an advantage on job boards. They can list numerous openings (100s in some cases) which increases their visibility on mega-boards. If you are a small company with only a few openings, your listing will be swallowed by Fortune 500 companies with numerous openings listed. Use social media outlets to reach out to those individuals who are passively looking. Linked In Groups is a great option. Also, try user groups and listing your openings with professional associations whose members are the folks you are looking for.
2. Welcome applicants. When someone shows interest in your company, respond to them promptly. Even if the candidate doesn’t fit what you are looking for today, keep their resume on file for potential future hiring needs.
3. Make the interview process efficient. Take advantage of the fact that you are a small and nimble company. Start the process with a short phone interview to qualify the individual. Assuming you are pleased with this step, immediately set up a SINGLE interview session. Make sure that everyone who needs to be involved in the selection process is available. Some interviews will need to be an hour – some only 30 minutes. Line them up back-to-back so that you get a broad perspective. I have one client who has a score sheet for every interviewer – this helps solicit objective feedback and keeps the interview conversation focused – good idea!
4. Make the interview process as non-stressful as possible. Sure, it makes sense to gather a bunch of people in a room at once to do a mass interview. However, from the candidate’s perspective, this is quite un-nerving! You simply will not see the best side of your candidates if you gang up on them. I suggest no more than 2 people at a time with a candidate. Most people can handle this with composure, but 3:1 or 4:1 just isn’t fair.
5. Rapid feedback and swift decision. Small companies have a HUGE edge here. Get feedback to each candidate within 24 hours of the interview to let them know how they did. In addition, set a realistic expectation with them about when you’ll be making a decision, and how the decision will be made. Honesty and transparency will help you build trust. Even those candidates you don’t select will appreciate it – and they will pass the word.
It’s hard to get noticed as a small company in a hot hiring climate. By focusing on exactly who you’re looking for, acting quickly, and using a little ‘courtship’ during the selection process you can compete for top talent – and WIN!
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