Today’s technology gives hiring managers access to more powerful and efficient candidate-screening tools than ever before, allowing them to focus on high-quality prospects even while considering many applicants. Artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing (NLP) are enabling a more inclusion-conscious recruiting process and helping to ensure the strongest candidates aren’t accidentally overlooked. This streamlined recruiting process (think: less time spent having to sift through stacks of resumes) actually gives us more time with the right candidates. It’s great news for HR leaders.
But all this progress means it’s even more critical for HR leaders to use the time they do spend with candidates carefully.
Even with all the new and emerging technological tools at our disposal, we cannot forget that the interview process itself plays a large role in getting diversity and inclusion right. Equip your team to find more than just “culture fit” in interviews — help them identify “culture add,” which means candidates who will strengthen the company culture with nontraditional backgrounds and new perspectives. Instead of expecting all potential employees to echo an organization’s mission and vision, celebrate candidates who make workplace culture more diverse and who add to the overall wealth of viewpoints.
Most recruiters are good at asking the right questions, guiding meaningful conversations and pinpointing candidates who will evolve and grow the organization’s culture. But, recruiters aren’t always the ones doing the interviewing — and they often aren’t making the final decision on hiring, either.
As interviewers and hiring managers, we take on the difficult task of representing our company and its core values, all while trying to get an accurate read on the candidate. It can sometimes feel like an impossible task, but by following these tips, you can help your organization consistently find culture add in candidates.
Consider Core Values, But Be Open To Change
We typically expect candidates to mirror our organization’s core values, but forget to celebrate where they might break the mold or introduce dissenting but constructive viewpoints. Your values don’t have to be identical to your co-workers’. Company philanthropy or social responsibility may mean more to you if you participate in work-sponsored community service opportunities.
Ultimately, it’s a good sign that our values and ideologies evolve over time and that our company culture allows for that change. A strong candidate will be sure to express what drives them and how your company’s value proposition aligns with their goals and ambitions. As interviewers, it’s up to us to keep an open mind.
Know What You’re Looking For
What is a rock star recruit in your book? When it comes to what your team needs in a new employee, you’re the expert. Decide on your requirements upfront. Jot down a list of skills or competencies that are necessary for success in this position, from your perspective. This might even go a bit beyond the job description, with room for the person and role to grow.
During the interview process, with a solid idea of your priorities and a better idea of the candidate’s attributes, keep discussions going with your team. This will help you identify where there’s opportunity for flexibility and growth and ensure that you are not making the mistake of hiring on culture fit alone. If the candidate isn’t equipped to do the job well, it won’t matter how much they can add to the culture, and you’ll soon be back to the drawing board.
Stick To A Strategy, But Consider Nontraditional Interviews
Make sure that, in your interview process, you have a way to assess core capability and the ability to go farther. Leveraging behavioral interviewing tactics is key to gaining insight on competencies beyond a simple written skill set. Traditional interview processes are useful at determining competency and cognitive skills, but sometimes miss the mark for examining soft skills, such as the candidate’s ability to contribute positively to the company’s culture.
While improved candidate-screening technologies allow us to know we’re talking to the right prospects with more and more confidence, we can also develop alternative recruitment interviews. Group assignments, mock presentations or code-a-thons are a simple start and can be a great tool for gaining a holistic view of how a candidate works in a larger group. Alternative-recruitment interviews show us both hard and soft skills while giving the candidate exposure to a more typical work experience.
Get Specific And Present Authentic Scenarios
Ask about specific situations a candidate might face, and don’t allow for hypotheticals. While interviewers want to get an idea of the interviewee’s ability to think strategically, questions can get too lofty or too far from the subject matter. Knowing how a candidate handled an unexpected emergency is more helpful than knowing whether they can solve riddles.
Present the real, day-to-day challenges your team faces, and ask the candidate how they would problem-solve. Have follow-up questions prepared. Often, it’s our follow-up questions that uncover expertise and know-how. The interviewee will appreciate your commitment to gaining a comprehensive understanding of their background.
Do your part to make sure the candidate experience stays human. Don’t have more than four people interview a single candidate, and allow time for breaks or meals in their interview schedule if it’s a longer process. Think back to your last personal job search. Did you feel valued while being interviewed? Were you treated like a human, or an emotionless machine?
When speaking with prospective employees, whether it’s a preliminary screening or final interview round, work to build a connection as two people. It will help you ask better questions and tailor the rest of the candidate experience to their interests and expertise.
When we interviewers speak with a candidate who seem to be a great “fit,” we have to ask ourselves: Is it because their background or employment experience is like my own? Committing to culture add means finding connections in interviews, especially when they aren’t always obvious. So embrace the potential for a human connection, even if it comes from unexpected places.