First contact - the surprisingly wasted opportunities of HR interviews

IT in Iași is a supply dominated market, where talent is king. Most companies, as much as they’d like to, don’t fundamentally differentiate: their businesses are similar, their recruiting messages are similar, and they’re all desperate for great talent. I don't mean to say that in itself makes them bad companies, what I'm saying is that the real differences are not that big, and when they occasionaly are, they're rarely well identified and communicated. 

In this context where the “marketing noise” is all the same, it’s only natural that people put extra emphasis on what they can see for themselves. The words on the website don’t tell the real story they care about, so what can they look at to evaluate the company that wants to hire them? The recruiter is the first “real” thing they see. Of course, the company’s reputation and word of mouth precedes, but as far as actual formal interview, the recruiter starts it.

Most recruiting processes in Iași start with the so called HR Interview. The pros and cons of this approach for another time, but what I can say now is that the HR interview is a crucial first impression that the talent is going to form about the company. I know, real situations, people that continued talking with companies that didn’t initially seem a great fit because of a great HR interview, and I know people that didn’t want to continue because of a bad HR interview, even as I know for a fact that those companies would have been a great fit for them and would have wanted them.

What’s a great HR interview?

People are looking to talk to people. They are looking for smart recruiters that act like thinking individuals that know how to have an opinion, and are not just repeating the approved company message. They are looking for exciting, enlightening conversations that help them find out new things about the company, real things about the work there, not PR, not empty keywords. They appreciate good questions that make them think about themselves in new insightful ways. Last but not least, they want a conversation that feels like a conversation, fluid, adaptive, not a script.

That’s what good talent wants. I don’t care what mediocre talent wants.

What are companies doing?

Surprisingly, more and more are going in the opposite direction and are ending up missing opportunities to get the real talent.  

They are standardizing the process more and more, chasing misguided short term internal efficiency targets, and the process succeeding at killing recruiting creativity and spontaneity, slowing everything down, self handicapping themselves into slow decisions and boring interactions.

They are coming up with grids on top of grids, which can help, as can a degree of standardization, but when recruiters spend their time ticking boxes instead of peering into people’s aspiration, an opportunity is lost.

They are centralizing recruitment into remote locations and, worse, are making cross city, cross country or cross culture calls, because they fool themselves into thinking people are numbers and a call is a call, no matter who makes it, from where and what they know about the place and the person they're calling.

And, inevitably, more recruiters grow to be adept at thriving in this kind of an environment, not following their curiosity, not feeling like they have the time or the authority to be really interested in people and their potential, to research, to have balanced mature conversations about the market, about the options, instead of simply repeating the boilerplate company message.

The context is ripe for disruption and the opportunities are huge for the company that will have the guts and skills to remake their hiring process and truly put put people first, as everyone adversites they're doing anyway.