What interviews tell candidates about your company culture

Company culture is rapidly becoming one of the things job seekers consider to be most important. This is good news, as it gives companies a way to distinguish themselves from the competition. But the challenge lies in being able to effectively communicate company culture to candidates. Interviews represent one of the best opportunities to do this, as they give candidates an insider’s view of the company.  And understanding how this affects candidate perception of your company culture will help you use your interview process to be more appealing to candidates. Below are some of the questions candidate’s get answered by your interview process…

What’s the workplace environment like?

The first impression we get of something is aways the strongest. Not only does it have the biggest impact, but because of anchor bias, it tends to have the most influence on how we process related information. 

So when a candidate walks through your doors, they are going to get an instant feel for what it might be like to work at that company. If the floor space is divided into cubicles, there’s little to no natural light and the place is lit with drab fluorescent lighting, you’re not exactly giving off the image that you run a hip, exciting and inspiring company with a strong, vibrant culture. 

You don’t need to go overboard with this stuff. But making sure the office is well-lit, the layout represents the way you work and wall colours are neutral but inviting will give you a better chance of making a good first impression.

Are people happy? 

Again, a job interview is very much an insider’s look at the inner-workings of a company. If someone walks in and sees people in a bad mood, overworked, anxious, etc., they will receive a negative message. In many ways this isn’t fair. What happens if someone comes in for an interview on a rainy day? Or during the busiest time of the year? They may get an inaccurate snapshot of employee well-being, harming your chances of convincing them to come work for you. Which leads us to…

Projecting the best image 

Fortunately, there are ways to adjust what you do to help prevent this from happening. The first is to try and plan your hiring periods to coincide with less busy times of the year. Most businesses operate in cycles, so there should be a time where things quiet down and you can start bringing in candidates to fill positions before the next busy cycle starts. 

Another option, no matter if the first one is possible or not, is to simply ask people to take time to greet those who come in for interviews. Encourage them to stop and introduce themselves, and consider taking candidates around at a set time so that employees can by fully present when meeting interviewees. 

How much do you care? 

Another first impression people will get when they come in for an interview is what type of people work at your company. Top talent wants to work in offices that are inviting and authentic. They present candidates with coffee and other refreshments, and they spend some time to make sure they are comfortable before starting the interview. There shouldn’t be any intimidation; the interview is taken seriously, of course, but it runs more like a conversation than an interrogation.

People will always feel nervous when they go in for a job interview. But if they walk out of there just as nerve-ridden, then they’re not likely to form a favourable opinion of your company culture, which will turn them away from any offers you may make.

Do they want to work there?

Usually the last thing an interview tells a candidate is whether or not they want to work there. We often think the candidate is the one on the hot seat. And this is why we encourage practices such as following up, writing thank you notes and trying to please employers with concise resumes and to-the-point cover letters. It always feels like there’s more pressure on the candidate. But these are not one-sided affairs, especially in today’s competitive job market where most companies are having trouble finding talent. Candidates are interviewing companies as well.

Of course other things matter, such as salaries and benefits. Working with a benefits management firm can help you design competitive compensation packages that will attract top talent. But it’s also important to work on your interview experience so that when a candidate comes in you can portray your company in the best light possible, increasing your chances of securing top talent. 

About the author: Jock Purtle consults with business owners to help them build their growth and expert strategies. Since founding his brokerage, DigitalExits, his work has given him valuable insight into how to grow and manage a successful business. He knows having the right talent onboard is key to taking your business from good to great. 

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