You've advertised the role, reviewed the applications, and now you find yourself interviewing the ideal candidate: they're bright, enthusiastic, well qualified, and they’d be a real asset to your business.
But if you can see their potential, chances are the next business will see it too... and that can be a problem.
It's time to talk about the other, lesser-known, role of the job interviewer: how do you sell your business to a candidate, and convince them that joining your business is the smart move?
Before you begin to advertise for candidates
Think about the details: review your application & interview process
In reality, if your interviewee is weighing up a job with your company against another offer, they’ll have done their research before they talk to you. Persuading them that your business is the best choice means getting it right at every opportunity.
Think about the whole experience from a potential employee’s point of view. What does the job application involve? How quickly and efficiently do you respond and invite them for an interview? How is the interviewee experience? you are you prepared and interested in the candidates?
Dealing with each stage of the application and job offer process quickly and professionally can boost a candidate’s positive impression of your business and may give you the edge over other interested parties.
Also consider what your perfect employee will have researched before they speak to you. What kind of impression does your website give about your business? How does it come across in social media? What do recruitment sites say about working for you?
Recommendations and warnings to stay away often come from other employees, friends and family, so word of mouth is important. If you don’t have a great workplace culture, and your current employees are dissatisfied, then chances are the word will spread.
During the job interview
Sell more than just the salary
Getting the best people to work for you is not always about the size of your business and pay packet. Many employees are just as concerned about their quality of life as the amount of money a position offers. Other factors such as pensions, bonuses, commission and allowances may give your business the edge, so make sure you tell that star candidate what’s on offer.
Additional benefits such as company car or travel allowance, health care, fitness memberships and other rewards may also have the power to influence your perfect candidate.
And don't forget the fun stuff... everyone wants to work in an enjoyable environment with friendly colleagues. Take a bit of time to cover the social aspects of your workplace - staff nights out, for example.
Small is good
Google famously offers all its staff free food and drinks; other large sites may offer gyms or childcare facilities, but it’s not just big businesses that can offer perks to attract great quality employees. Small companies can often offer more flexibility and more job diversity and the possibility of high growth.
Do you allow your staff to work from home? What’s the work life balance like in your business? Can you offer flexibility around things like childcare and start and finish times?
With a small number of employees, it’s easier to manage productivity and offer good employees benefits they really appreciate.
Recognise and encourage ambitious job candidates
If you’re a small business with big ambitions, then it may be appropriate to offer a stake in your future success, such as a percentage of your profits or sales. This could be very attractive if you’re looking for a keen sales-person.
Not many people want to do the same thing day in day out for years on end. Talented employees are often ambitious and want to learn new skills that will further their careers.
Make sure your candidate knows about the training and development you can offer. Even if it’s not in-house, can you reimburse some, or all of the costs of courses relevant to their role?
Identify and overcome obstacles during the job interview
As part of your interview technique, try to find out why your perfect employee might be thinking of turning down your offer and try to counter that. Be prepared: ask your current staff what concerns they had about joining your business.
For example, if you’re based in a city centre, the candidate may be concerned about commuting or parking. But you can talk up the buzzing, vibrant environment and social aspects of being in the heart of everything.
Or if you’re in a rural setting and they don’t want to be out in the sticks, you could talk about the benefits of the relaxed location, easy access to the countryside and a productive working environment.
Don’t forget the personal touch
The surest way to persuade your perfect interviewee to come and work for your business is to help them to imagine working there. If appropriate, take some time to show them around and introduce them to some of the people they would be working with.
This can be a great way to show your future employee the atmosphere and culture of your workplace, and even start to make them feel at home.
After the interview
Following up: keep in touch with your new employee
You may know you want this employee, but make sure they do too. Even if you can’t make an offer there and then, don’t keep them hanging on for days waiting to hear from you. They’ll think you’re not interested.
Take some time to give them feedback on their interview and why you’re really keen to have them join your organisation. Be clear about what you can offer.
If there’s a delay before they can start working for you, keep in touch. Invite them in for another look around and to meet their colleagues. It’s a good way of continuing to make a great first impression and making sure even more great employees want to work with you in future.
About the author
Michelle Nicol is a writer, trainer and tone of voice consultant who helps businesses use the right words to connect with their customers. She researches and writes features, blog posts and guides on a wide range of business-related subjects.