Hiring Managers: Why & How You Should Sell Your Company at Interview

Many hiring managers still view the interview stage as a top-down, one-way process where the candidate is being assessed and the interviewer is asking all the questions. But things have changed.

For the first time since the global financial crisis we are now operating within a candidate-driven market. Companies are competing for talent, with some applicants having several job opportunities open to them.

If you wish to maintain your competitive edge, you may have to work harder in promoting the benefits of a career within your company.

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1. Why?

Until quite recently, an applicant’s main focus was the job on offer, its salary and perhaps the manager he or she would be working with. Now it’s often about much more than that.

Candidates are not only looking for a role that will satisfy them, they want to join a company which they believe reflects their own worldview and outlook, a company whose ethics and values chime with theirs.

Connected to cultural fit are additional factors such as:

  • Benefits package
  • Systems and technology on offer
  • Flexible working
  • Social aspects of the company
  • Work-life balance
  • Location

2. How?

a. Before

Selling your company begins well before the interview.

As a hiring manager, you won’t probably be involved in advertising the role or searching for suitable candidates. But you will play a part in organising and preparing for the interview.

If you can help it, don’t chop and change the dates and times – or the people that are attending.

It can often be difficult for applicants to free up time for an interview, especially if they happen to be in full-time employment and/or need to travel. Constantly changing the line-up can often give the candidate the impression they aren’t important.

Prepare properly for the interview. Read the candidate’s CV and know the questions you are going to ask. Be organised. If not, you may come across as sloppy, disorganised and unprofessional. Not only does this reflect badly on you, it also impacts on the company’s reputation.

b. During

Set aside a specific section for the interview to talk about the company. Don’t just tack it on at the end or wait to be asked. Be proactive. Outline how you see the company developing, especially if the company has gone through high profile changes, e.g. merger and acquisitions.

Put all this in the context of your team and the position the applicant is interviewing for.

Differentiate your company from its competitors. This can sometimes be difficult within financial services. But try to articulate what makes your organisation different, what is its unique selling point. You can also list the company’s main initiatives for the year.

Does your organisation have an unusual perk or benefit? Perhaps everyone gets their birthday off each year? If so, mention it.

Don’t be frightened to discuss social aspects of the company’s culture – if they’re positive. This all helps to present an engaging picture of a place where you can have a rewarding and enjoyable career.

Give your opinion. Don’t just rely on text from the company brochure. Bring your organisation alive by sharing your experiences with the candidate.

What do you enjoy about the company? How has your career progressed? Why did you join in the first place? This is a much more engaging and authentic approach. And more useful to the candidate.

c. After

During the interview, best practice dictates you should give a timeframe for making a decision. Stick to this if you can. If there turns out to be a delay, update the applicant.

Candidates appreciate and respond well to timely, well-considered and sensitively delivered feedback, even if it’s negative.

Providing no feedback should be a last resort. It can be very damaging to your company’s reputation. So much so, we’ve written a whole article on the subject – ‘The Importance of Candidate Feedback’.

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3. Can you sell your company too much?

Yes. The last thing you want to do is paint an inaccurate picture of your company. You will be misleading the candidate and storing up issues for the future.

So don’t be insincere. You will have difficulty managing their expectations if you offer and they accept the role.

Stick to what you know and what your experiences are. There should hopefully be clear reasons as to why you joined the organisation – and why you’ve chosen to stay there. Draw on these.

If you don’t have clear reasons, you may want to question why you’re doing the interview in the first place.

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Kim Bower
Business Manager – Asset Management & Financial Services
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