Should you hire the most talented candidate for the open position in your department? The answer is no. Hire the right talent for the position. The concept is straightforward to understand, but achieving success can be complicated without a structured recruiting process. The process starts with an evaluation of the company’s core values and branding. Once that has been accomplished, then screening candidates and selecting the right talent for your hiring needs becomes much easier.
Understand Your Organization’s Core Values
Before you start searching for new employees, you should clearly understand the core values that allow your company function. This is important as you determine the culture fit of prospective candidates for the job position you plan to hire for. One Forbes’ article  described “key strategies for establishing your company’s core values and ensuring your people, from new hires to tenured employees, know the traits that define and exemplify your culture.” Here are the four steps with commentary from me.
1. Identify Key Traits That Describe Your Culture
Establish a cross-functional team representing most functions of your company to get inputs. These inputs should consist of adjectives, verbs, or phrases that define how the company operates and what behaviors the organization expects of all employees.
2. Narrow the List to Establish Your Core Values
Attempt to capture values that are unique that go beyond the common ones of commitment, teamwork, reliability, etc., to name a few.
3. Share Your Core Values Companywide
Once you’ve determined your core values, share them throughout the company with a marketing campaign aimed at informing employees. Again, these values should capture the company culture, and employees should embody them.
4. Share Your Values With the World
Once core values are defined and communicated to the workforce, the final phase is to write these values down and discuss behaviors that support these values to the management team. The goal is to establish common ground with the hiring managers to assess candidates on culture fit. Align your core values with prospective candidates.
The Importance of Branding in Recruiting
Treat potential candidates as customers. Positioning your company in the marketplace to attract and acquire candidates will give you the edge in a competitive labor market. This requires a marketing and sales approach in your hiring process, which starts with understanding your company’s branding. According to one article , “Your brand is the sum total of your customers’ perceptions, notions, and experience. It is the face, personality, and the values espoused by your business and everything in between.”
Keep in mind that high-performing employees want to develop a strong career where their contributions are recognized and where they can learn during each employment opportunity. Your organization’s brand is important to attract and retain the right employees. Employees take pride in belonging to an organization that has a purpose and a brand that they identify themselves with.
Some examples where companies use branding to attract top talent include IBM, Square, Starbucks, and more . IBM reinvented their culture to be more casual and informal. Square uses career videos to emphasize the company’s mission and highlight talent. Starbucks leverages social media for connecting with prospective candidates and recruiting.
The majority of manufacturing organizations may highlight the nuts and bolts of their technology and capability when attracting talent. Creating a strong brand that highlights unique technologies, processes, or knowledge centers can create that branding differentiator to attract top talent.
Screening Candidates for Competency and Culture Fit
Once you are ready to post a job opening by promoting your values and brand, then you are ready to evaluate candidates. Many candidates may only be interested in the job title itself and the opportunity to get higher compensation. However, top candidates will do their homework on your company. Part of their homework will be about understanding your company’s values and how working for the organization will add value to their careers.
One question that can give the recruiting manager a clue of a candidate’s interest in the position is, “Why are you interested in applying for the position?” A typical response will be that the opportunity is aligned with the candidate’s career aspirations and qualifications. However, there will be a few candidates who have done research on the company and will point to a specific strength or technology that the company offers that is of interest to them.
The recruiting manager needs to note those intangibles during the screening process before presenting candidates to the hiring manager. It’s very important that the recruiting manager is able to evaluate a candidate’s interests and EQ to determine a fit for the company’s core values and brand. The hiring manager should also evaluate the candidate’s IQ, EQ, and competency adequacy for the job position. A perception map analysis can be used as an objective tool to place candidates into four categories (Figure 1).
1. High-Value Candidates
Candidates in this category have a good culture fit and the right competency level for the desired job. These are your desired candidates. Also, these candidates are highly sought after by other companies and may have multiple job offers at the same time.
2. Medium-Value Candidates (High Risk)
These candidates can be the most talented and demonstrate a high level of IQ, but their fit to culture may be problematic. Companies take a high risk when hiring these candidates, as they may create unnecessary conflicts in the organization. They can deliver exceptional work as individual contributors but may not work well with others or not support companywide initiatives that they don’t agree with.
3. Medium-Value Candidates (Low Risk)
These candidates may not have the necessary competency to initially excel in the job but demonstrated the right culture fit during the interview process. The hiring manager will need to decide whether candidates in this category are trainable or can learn the skill sets required for the job in a short period of time. These candidates can be great employees if they can develop their skills to meet the job requirements.
4. Low-Value Candidates
Many of the candidates applying for the job will fall into this category. These candidates do not bring the right skills to the job and have not demonstrated alignment with the company’s culture.
Move Fast to Make an Offer to the Right Candidate
Once the evaluation of candidates has been completed, it will be easier to select the right candidate for the job position. The candidates categorized in the high-value category are highly sought by other organizations. It is important for the company to move quickly and make an offer to highly competent candidates that demonstrate a culture fit with the organization’s values and brand.
According to another Forbes’ article :
“Companies are competing in a war for talent where the best candidates are off the market in just 10 days. Job seekers are receiving multiple competing offers and won’t waste their time going through a lengthy recruiting process. Glassdoor reports the average interview process takes 23.7 days. If longer, candidates perceive it to mean they’re not the top pick or the company is unsure about advancing them to the next stage.”
In summary, you must first understand your organization’s core values and the importance of branding in recruiting. Next, screen candidates for competency and culture fit using the four recommended screening categories, and if you identify the right candidate, move fast to make them an offer. These steps will help you redefine how you recruit, attract, and hire the right talent.
- Vivian Maza, “The Importance Of Establishing Company Core Values -- And How To Define Them,” Forbes, March 26, 2019.
- Arpit Sinha, “Six Reasons Branding Is More Important Than Ever Before,” Entrepreneur India, May 14, 2018.
- “13 Great Examples of Employer Branding,” Uncubed.
- Heidi Lynne Kurter, “Employers: Here Are 3 Reasons Why Candidates Are Ghosting You,” Forbes, December 31, 2019.
This column originally appeared in the December 2020 issue of SMT007 Magazine.