Most HR experts and recruiters know that the investment to recruit and onboard new talent is sizeable, and that the longer an employee remains on board, the more knowledge and experience accrued. And ultimately, this adds more value to the company’s bottom line.
With that in mind, what facts and insights must be revealed to influence candidates to sign on and ultimately, for them to remain on board beyond the initial honeymoon phase? Beyond the obvious culture-fit questions, what do candidates want to glean about a company during their interview that will inspire them to not only accept the offer, but also remain committed to the company’s mission for months, and even years, to come?
Following are a few spoken, and often unspoken, questions most candidates are seeking to have answered during the interview, and to help vet a long-term ‘win-win’ arrangement.
1. What are some of the greatest challenges I will face in navigating the political landscape of my role? Will the company back me up when needed?
Companies that recently underwent a major change, whether it be a merger or a shift in leadership from the top (CEO, COO, etc.) or a disruption in their overall marketplace positioning, should be forthcoming during the interview process as to the aftermath of these changes and how it will affect the new hire.
Even when a candidate has researched your company through internet and networking, they still will have question-marks about the reality behind the office doors regarding organisational stability, departmental culture and specifically, the relationships between and among the key stakeholders with whom they will be interacting.
If the interviewing decision-makers are transparent regarding the likelihood of encountering pushback to new-candidate ideas, hostility, territory possessiveness, impenetrable silos amid business units and more, then the candidate will be more emotionally and intellectually prepared to address these challenges. As a result, it increases the likelihood the candidate will remain rooted in the role, despite the storms.
Conversely, an employee who is either fed false information or is given no information at all will feel like they’ve been thrown into a lion’s den if, in fact, the reality they face is a hostile or otherwise aggressive and territorial environment.
Being honest that the environment will be rough terrain for some is important. Expressing that you, the hiring manager and others on the team, will offer the new hire full support, as well as protocol for addressing these challenges, is essential for smoother onboard sailing.
2. Are they truly open and comfortable embracing my new and innovative ideas?
If you are hiring a candidate for their record of innovating and breaking through preconceived notions of ‘how it’s always been done’, then you must be truthful about your real nature; i.e., will you be truly open to their ideas, or do you have a wall of anxiety that they must surmount in order to garner your buy-in?
The candidate, whom you hired for their energy, enthusiasm and inventiveness, is going to be itching to unleash their ideas and potential versus being caged in. If your interest in bringing someone on with ideas that challenge yours is genuine, but you are naturally a play-it-safe leader, then be honest with the candidate that you both will need to be patient with one another over the course of the next few weeks, months and even years.
There is nothing worse than recruiting exceptional talent and then holding their ideas and energy hostage for a paycheque, while slowly chipping away at their passion to provide the true return on the investment — what you hired them for.
3. How will I add value to the company beyond my day-to-day tasks?
Most employees want to feel like they are contributing not only to the immediate need of the role but also to something bigger. For example, an administrative assistant may be tasked with setting up meetings and events for their boss. The details of the time and venue, agenda, names of key stakeholders, etc., all are crucial to a successful outcome.
In addition to knowing their role in ensuring day-to-day success, the administrative assistant may ultimately desire to understand how their role contributes to something bigger and better. For example, perhaps their boss is striving to break new ground on a product or service that will not only increase local sales, but could also open up new opportunities for nationwide, or even global, revenue and profit. Revealing big-picture vision and impact enables the employee to expand their vision beyond otherwise standard tasks.
4. How will I be challenged to grow after having accomplished key objectives in this position?
Even those employees who hire on with the intention of ‘being satisfied’ with a specific set of challenges will get bored and frustrated if, once they have exceeded expectations, they are not given opportunities to push the envelope further.
In other words, most candidates, even if they do not immediately disclose it in an interview, have their sights set on next-level objectives once they have accomplished their immediate goals. And, the hiring decision-maker, likewise, will benefit from someone that is not satisfied with the status quo and will make them look good by helping them exceed their leadership objectives.