What your hiring process says about your brand

Everything you do speaks to your business’s brand. From obvious things like your website and business cards, to how you answer the phone, and yes, even your hiring process communicates your brand. Let’s take a look at our hiring process here at Backflip as an example of what *we think* the process communicates about our brand. Scott shares our hiring process and I’ve added what I believe it says about our brand. – Ryan

Job Posting

Take the time to think through and write the position description. Think about what this position absolutely needs to know, and what would would be a bonus. Show your brand’s personality, but don’t get too cutesy.

Post it in numerous places – you may have to adjust the description to fit particular posting requirements. Check the first few resumes that come in to make sure you’re attracting some of the right people with the posting. Adjust as necessary. Review the newer entries and decide if you need another revision or if you can start screening candidates.

I think there are two important things going on here. First is clearly communicating the position. Second is boldly showing your brand voice. This allows potential candidates to assess if the position technically fits their skillsets, but more importantly they can get a first look at your culture. You want people who can do the job well, but more-so you want someone who can fit the culture and be additive to the team.

Screening Process

Go through this screening phase rather fast. If someone isn’t a match, discard and move forward. If a key question or two can influence whether you want to schedule an interview with someone, go ahead and email or call. Whatever the communication, you glean information about who they are, answers to those key questions, and can proceed from there most effectively and efficiently.

This has the tenor of ‘agile’ methodology. Like the previous step, you should have the ability to adapt and change your process as you’re going through it. If someone shows great communication skills, but is less on a technical point, you have the freedom to followup with a phone call to see if they’re a good fit for an interview. Don’t be beholden to the system. The system is built to help you, not to unnecessarily limit your decision-making opportunity. In my experience at a large public organization, amazing candidates are passed by because they don’t meet one of a few dozen requirements. Don’t let the process restrict what your instincts are telling you.

The Interview

1. Start with a tour

As in all first meetings here, we love to start with a tour. This is not only a chance to share your brand, it is an opportunity to observe the social interactions between the candidate and your staff. How is the fit? Do they like what they see? Are they excited to be there? This can also increase their comfort level for the sit-down portion of the interview. It is also a great way to impart knowledge about your company.

This is a big branding moment. It helps show what we think our biggest assets are: our people. It seems like a no-brainer, but what we do isn’t about pixels or codecs or colors. It’s about an emotional connection between clients and their customers, as well as an between coworkers. Plus our space is continually developing as our brand develops and it’s fun to show off. Look, that’s an original Nintendo. Over here we have our national awards. See this, we have a kegerator, etc. etc.

2. The sit-down part

I tend to start with “get to know you” type questions to make them comfortable and to learn a bit about who they are. Where did they grow up? What are their hobbies? Once we’ve gotten comfortable, I like to get into it in earnest by having them walk me through their resume. Preferably with specific examples.

I also like to ask soft-skill questions to see how they think and how they brand themselves. One of my favorites is: “Tell me a time you’ve failed. What happened, how did you fail, and where did you go from there?” This gives us an opportunity to see how the candidate thinks about herself, how they think and talk about failure, and their perspective on problem-solving. It can be awkward at first, but it’s something that is important to understand when working on a team.

Next we move on to more technical questions. These serve to ascertain where they are at with specific skills. Everyone lists photoshop skills, but few are actually skilled in photoshop. With a few short questions, we can easily discern skill level.

Next, I ask about what they are hoping for in a position, their availability and schedule, and other related logistical questions. Finally, concluding with sharing more about the opportunity, more about our creative agency, and answering any questions they may have.

Certainly this is the most standard part of the hiring process: read the resume, ask questions about resume, talk about job, etc. What I think what we do that is unique, which speaks loudly to our brand, is that we quickly get beyond the resume. Resumes are certainly helpful for screenings and to start a conversation, but they rarely show the important complexities of a candidate. By asking awkward or circuitous questions we are striving to go beyond the resume in order to see a fuller picture of our candidate. It helps us understand how they think, why they do things a particular way, and it helps us know them better. If this is how we approach interviews, imagine how much more detailed we get when working on a marketing solution!

Post Interview

I solicit feedback from the other interviewers and we discuss. Your gut reaction right after your first meeting is a great start. Then I write in red what we think are the overall interview highlights, rate both the soft skills and technical skills, and compare to other applicants. If someone really stands out, move quickly to take the next step in your process or offer them the position. Top people take work to find, but is there any more important resource?

This too is pretty standard. One thing that we do that is unique is that we move fast when we find someone we like. This is a philosophy that saves time and money. Companies like Zappos and Amazon will even pay new employees to leave if the fit isn’t good! They know the value of everyone’s time. Being smart and moving fast is what allows us to grow intelligently, and continue to provide high quality services to new clients.

One last note I’d like to make is how an interviewee can really stand out. Nothing is worse than a resume or cover letter that has bad grammar or is not custom tailored for the position or company. If it looks like you copy and pasted then you’re chances of making it past the screening are not good. The other big opportunity an interviewee has is to have a great followup letter. Email is fine, written letter is amazing though. A followup letter from an interviewee shows good marketing and people skills. It should have a nice recap of the interview, express a desire to hear back, and a compliment about the company. With a letter like this after a good interview, you’re going to stand out above the rest.

Now you’re ready to think about how even your hiring process communicates your brand. What is yours saying?