Article: Innovations in Interviewing – a path towards employer branding


Innovations in Interviewing – a path towards employer branding

Innovations in Interviewing is going to be one of the major tool to attract, recruit and retain the talent and have a competitive edge.
Innovations in Interviewing – a path towards employer branding

In today’s highly competitive environment, if the companies need to have an edge over the competitors then they should able to attract, recruit and induct the quality manpower. It is the right talent, which brings zeal, enthusiasm, and motivation in the organizations. Today, it is the ‘Talent’ which decides the leader in the market -place as there is very less difference in the product and price, further it will not be a direct battle for shelf space or market share, it will be a “War For Talent” which will decide who will be ahead in the race. Companies are investing heavily on their manpower in the terms of learning, development, job challenge etc., but the foundation of all these efforts rest upon the right induction and entry. Today, people have choices and they prefer companies with benchmark and  unique HR Practices, ‘Interviewing’ being the first HR step for the new comer, if it is conducted in an innovative manner can act as an attractor for the prospective employees. It will further reduce the chance of mismatch between the profile and the candidate.

Innovations in Interviewing is one of the key tools for identifying right talent and provides the competitive edge to the companies. 

Scene-1: Sadhna, a recruiter to Savio, a Product Group Head (PGH), “sir, the candidate has arrived for the interview”. Savio who was busy in responding to some mail in his laptop raised his head looked at Sadhna and said, “ok, ask him to wait, I will call him, offer him water, tea or coffee and by the way for which position he has come? “ For Marketing In-charge”, Sadhna replied and left the room. Once Sadhna left, Savio opened his drawer, start searching the cv he has kept. After a little difficulty, he found the cv, go through the same quickly and then call the candidate Umesh. 

Scene-2: Savio to Umesh, “oh! So you are Umesh ! Please tell me about yourself, your family and your professional career. Once Umesh finished his reply.Savio again,”so you have done your engineering from Pune University, good ! oh! MBA from RKJ Institute, that’s good! ok, what you have told about your current job can you repeat it please “ once Umesh completed his reply, Savio again,”when you were in Pune market, with which all dealers you have worked” before Umesh finishes his reply, in between Savio again, “ do you know Ghanshyam Radios ? How was his dealing?” After Umesh replies, Savio again, “ why you want to leave your current organisation ?......what is your current CTC ?...................what is your expectation ? early you can join ?............. what is your notice period ? and lastly, our HR will get back to you, thanks for coming and sparing time with us.

Scene-3: Savio to Sadhana after the interview,”the candidate seems to be OK but lacks spark / fire in the belly, keep him as short -listed & look for few more candidates. Sadhana to Savio,” but Sir, the profile of the candidate is exactly matching our job specifications plus he has relevant experience also, may I know 2-3 reasons so I can refine my search”. Savio to Sadhana again,” you will not understand through his cv, he even doesn’t know the Ghanshyam Electronics Partner’s name further he has attitude problem. Sadhana leaves the room dishearten saying ok, sir I will give you couple of more cvs

Scene-4: Sai Dham Restaurant - Umesh sipping coffee with his friend Chandan. Chandan,”Umesh, what happen, you are supposed to attend an interview at Blue Diamond Electronics Ltd”.Umesh,”yes ! went for the interview, but from the questions, it seems the Business Head doesn't know what he expects from the candidate and it seems he have someone in mind”.Chandan,” But Blue Diamond is a name to reckon in the electronic industry”.Umesh,”left it, the company is known by its team managing the show, if one of the PGH is like that, I have my own doubts about others”

Scene-5: It was a fine Saturday evening, I was enjoying the IPL T-20 Match on TV, trin trin trin……, I open the door, and it was Anuroop, one of my close associate, who has come after many days. I inquire,”how you are here today”Anuroop,”just came to this side for a interview with a large life insurance company”.By the way, would like to tell you that Anuroop  is an interview freak and keep on appearing in the interviews for updating himself. In last 2 years he has appeared in approx 20 interviews. Just for this article I asked him few questions to validate my facts of common interview questions. Q1.Tell me something about yourself / take me through your personal and professional career Q2.What are your strengths and weaknesses? Q3.What is your ctc and what is your expectation? Q4.What is your notice period and by when you can join? Q5.Do you have any question to ask from us ? Q6.We will get back to you. He confirms that these are the 6 questions asked in almost all the interviews in same sequence

These are some of the common scenes across the organisations. If you minutely observe the questions asked by Savio, you will find that he has not gone through the cv, he is asking the questions which are already mentioned in the cv, further he is not concentrating to what Umesh is replying as he is going through the cv at the time when Umesh was replying. From the above-mentioned conversation it is clear that Savio is not well prepared and further he has not gone through the cv in detail that’s why he is not clear what to enquire from Umesh

In a groundbreaking survey, Leadership IQ found that 46% of all new hires fail within their first 18 months. 

  • “Within a year, hiring managers regret 50% of the hiring decisions they make.” – Recruiting Roundtable

  • * “46% overall hiring failure rate and a modest 19% great hire success rate.” – LeadershipIQ

  • * “Only 10% of attempts to hire a top performer are successful.” – Recruiting Roundtable

As an HR function it become quite important that the candidates who appeared in the interview take good memories back home. The interview process requires two-way preparations. Like the organization expects the candidate to come prepare in the same way the candidate also expect a well taken and prepared interview. A well-taken interview help organization in following : 

  1. Employer Branding: Normally in any medium sized organization the ratio of interview is to final selection is 3:1. If you hire close to 500 people in a year, you need to interview 1500 people. So, if your interview is robust you are creating 1500 Employer Brand Ambassadors as these 1500 people will speak well about the organization in their circle. This number will keep on increasing year on year.

  2. Getting Good Talent on Board: If your interview process is structured and capture the candidate’s desired details, there are fair chances of right selection at first instance if found otherwise ok. In the similar manner your offered; joining ratio will also increase. If a candidate get impressed by the interviewer  or panel and start believing that this is a place to work,  then if selected he will join 100%.

  3. Gaining Knowledge: If the interview process is well documented and on an average you interviewed 3 -5 people per position, you can create a wealth of knowledge. If you observe, many information about the trade are not available and published. Further in the cases of Pvt Ltd and un-listed Companies, the data are not publicly available. For example, if we interview sales persons, the below-mentioned information can be extracted during the interviews. Some of the information about different companies in that particular territory may be : share b.volume and value  c.sales and marketing structure d.key sales people forthcoming products initiatives. 

  4. Networking: Many companies keep on taking interviews for creating future pool of talent. It is one way of increasing the network. If you impress upon the candidate by the interview process, he may recommend your company to his friends and relatives. During the interview process if he is satisfied by the way company conducted the interview, he may help by giving references of some more positions company is looking for. If you keep on adding people who advocate you chance of your getting good people increase many times.

Interviewing is a combination of arts and science in itself. It is crucial for both the organisation as well as the candidate from the outcome point of view. In the time of high attrition, when the numbers of interviews are much more in the organizations, if you keep on taking routine interviews, it will become monotonous for both the interviewer and the candidate. From the organization’s perspective, it should keep-on innovating the interviewing process so as to keep freshness in the process. Some of the ways to do interviewing differently are:

  1. Structured Questionnaire: It will always be better to have a structured questionnaire based upon the position. Position specific structured questionnaire help the interviewer in asking questions in correct sequence. It will also help the candidate in articulating the answers. The structured questionnaire may have 3 sections i.e., knowledge, functional and behavioural and these may further be divided into senior, middle and junior management sections. HR will go a step further in providing the solutions to the interviewer also.

  2. Extempore Talk: The ‘extempore talk’ give chance to know the candidate in terms of competencies like ideation, creation, presentation and communication skills. The process give candidate a chance to show his competencies and it will be a change for him as this is a unique method for interviewing. Through this method, we will able to assess his overall personality also.

  3. Presentation : Business Case Study / Business Topic : Under this method, the company may give Business Case Study and or any Business Specific Live Problem or Any Current Business Topic, through this method we may able to assess the competencies like deciding, relating, presenting and communicating information, analyzing, creating and innovating, formulating strategies, business acumen etc.

  4. Business Writing: One of the innovative method of the interview may be to give a business case or any business topic to the candidate in advance before the interview. The business case may be live case from the own company or we may business case form the HBR. The candidate may mail the case analysis or the write-up as applicable to the interviewer in advance. Based on the same detail discussion will take place. This method will help us understanding the competencies like analyzing, writing and reporting, learning and researching, formulating strategies etc.

  5. Own Company Presentation with Q & A: If you wish to go out of box and make the interviewing real innovative, you can do it in reverse direction. In normal interviews, the interviewer asks the questions and the interviewee keep on replying. As an innovative way, the company can make a presentation to the interviewee showing him the various details about the company like board members, vision, mission, quality, values, objective, market share, product line, manufacturing, people initiatives, talent management etc. Based upon the presentation, the interviewee will be asked to raise the questions / issues; those will be discussed during the process. This method will help us in understanding the competencies like analyzing, formulating strategies and concepts, entrepreneurial and commercial thinking.

 The closing of any interview is very important for the success of any interview. For ideal closing, the interviewer may briefly tell about the strengths of the interviewee, he may further explain the area of improvements if any, in terms of competencies, skill and knowledge. Normally, we close the interview with the statement ‘we will get back to you’. To be unique, one should avoid using such type of common phrase.

For the interview to be innovative, another important thing is the expertise of the interviewers. If the organisations really want to implement the innovative interviewing practices, it should train the batch of interviewers. The Interviewing Skills Training plays a vital role in preparing model / ideal interviewers. During the training, they should be made aware about the importance of innovative interviewing for the organization. As most of the interviewers are from non-HR background, it is very important that first they should be convinced about the concept, once they are convinced rest all things should fall in place automatically. The major challenge before the HR Function is to laid down the importance of the innovative interviewing as an employer brand building initiative among the management and the HODs of the organization

At the last, I would like to say that, if any company wishes to have a name as ‘a great place to work for’/ ‘talent attractor’ and create ‘employer brand’, it has to initiate many HR Practices and definitely ‘Innovations in Interviewing” will be one of them. Further, the innovative interviewing will act as a differentiator, become the talk of the HR fraternity resulted in having talent edge. Today, when we are interviewing, we should keep in mind that the prospective people are like a customer to us, they are observing our each action very closely including the way of interviewing, a single negative word from them would damage the employer brand of the company. In the age of social media and technology, where the word spread like a jet speed and there is no censor on the social media, our effort should be concentrated in the positive direction and we should ensure that like a Rs 100 Cr plus cum good movies, irrespective of the interview outcome, people should come out of the organization after the interview in a positive mood and like good movie review, should spread the positive and unique things about the interview process and the organization in the social media and the friend circle.

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Topics: Recruitment, Talent Acquisition, #HR Ready

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