6 tips for a recruitment process that reflects your culture

Employing the right kind of people is crucial for any organization. At a time when some charities are struggling to attract and retain new talent, ensuring each stage of your recruitment is on point is crucial.
So what opportunities are there to live, breathe and showcase your values, culture and identity through your recruitment process?

1. Your organization needs to have a strong sense of who it is.
Are your values as an organization explicit in your job description and in how you advertise and promote the role?

As an organization, you must be able to define your values, goals and mission. Can you?

Beyond the specifics of the role you’re recruiting for, does your industry sector or brand have a strong voice and identity, a confidence, a swagger (in a nice, not arrogant, way!) – is it an organization that people want to work for? Think about your target audiences. What values might be important to them? How do you demonstrate that these actively exist within your organization and within people’s day to day experience in their role? A job advert doesn’t exist in isolation – it is just one single part of the organization’s narrative.

Think about how the organization’s values can be made visible and experienced directly in the recruitment process. And recognize that for this to be the case, these need to already exist throughout the organization. If you just have them for show, people will be disappointed and leave once they join you. Consider how this will impact not only on your recruitment but on your whole organizational culture and reputation.

2. Recruiters themselves need to be clear on the values, goals and culture.
If those responsible for recruiting are clear, they can ensure the values, goals and culture are woven into the interview process.

Think about what training, support, ideas and materials recruiters need to ensure the organisation’s brand values and identity come to life in the interview process.

The future of your organization is in their hands – so what are they looking out for?

Do all the best candidates have a university degree and live in the city? Probably not.

Do they like the same things you like? Hopefully not – or your organization will be full of clones.

Do all the best candidates need to have the perfect experience for the role? Not necessarily. You could be limiting yourself to a smaller group of people.

Would looking for the kind of problem-solving skills your organization needs to get to where it wants to be prove more fruitful? It may well do.

People often talk vaguely about the idea of recruiting for a culture fit – but what does it actually mean? Well, what it doesn’t mean is recruiting people that are all the same. It’s not about hiring people you can see yourself having a good night out with, or people that might approach things the same way that you do. It’s here that there can be a negative impact on diversity. Being the right culture fit doesn’t mean everyone has to have the same personality, the same background, the same education. An organization’s values and culture can be reflected in a diverse group of people. It also doesn’t mean making people think and act the same once they’re on board with you so they fit some kind of ‘corporate norm’.

If someone is a good cultural fit for you, they’re more likely to reflect and live your values, gel with other members of the team, perform well and stick with you for the long term. But it doesn’t mean they have to be clones.

3. Consider how you communicate with potential candidates before interview
What channels will you use to communicate with them and what does this say about your organization? Who might you be excluding by using this particular channel? Think about previous interviews you’ve had and what groups have been missing from the room. How can you reach these people and ensure they are included next time?

What information will you be asking for from them in advance?

If part of your process includes a cover letter, give people the option to be as creative as they like.

What can you learn about your applicants beyond a boring, conventional resume before they’re even in front of you? What can you build into that early process that will help you select the appropriate candidates for the next stage?

4. Try and get beneath the blurb on people’s resumes
I read recently about a recruiter for Netflix who analysed the resumes of their best data-science people for common features. She found that those people shared a keen interest in music; so her and her team looked for that quality. She concluded that musicians can easily move between their left and right brains—a great skill for data analysis.

So whilst we might not all be looking for data people or musicians, what this example does show is that there are more creative ways to explore what people might bring to our organizations.

What should you be looking out for?

5. Consider each step of your interview process.
Does each stage of your interview process give you something new and useful and does it give the applicant the same? Are you just using these stages because you’ve always done it this way?

6. Make recruiting a priority – not something that gets in the way of everything else
When we’re all so busy, it can be easy to let recruitment slip down the list of priorities. This has an impact not only on potential recruits, and the ability to deliver on our strategy and planned activities, but also on existing members of your team. Presumably you’re recruiting because there are gaps in your team, because you need more support, because workload is high or because you are developing an area of your business in a new direction.

Your goal should be to have every applicant walking away wanting the job, wanting to work with you. You want them to think: that was a good interview, they asked really great questions, they seemed decent, I really want that job.

And, of course, people will share their interview experience with others. So whilst one individual may not be for you, their friend might be. It’s important they have a positive story to tell.

Recruitment-related activity is important. Act on it swiftly and remember that candidates are evaluating you, just as much as you’re evaluating them.

If you know you want them, get in contact with an offer quickly. Don’t delay because there are other seemingly more important things to do. They may be interviewing for other jobs. Even a couple of hours could make the difference from getting your ideal candidate or missing out!

Sarah Carter is a Specialist Consultant with a passion for helping leaders create strong and healthy cultures. She works across the areas of culture, coaching, training and communications. Click here to meet her.