Winning applicants as partners: Leading a dialogue with the candidates

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There is a fundamental dilemma in job interviews. On the other hand, we recommend: Don't consider candidates “only” as applicants, but make them partners. In this way you avoid missing potential and increase the quality of interviews for everyone involved.

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Here writes for you:


Dirk Ohlmeier photo - Dirk OhlmeierDirk Ohlmeier is Headhunter, Personalberater and Managing Director of Ethos Human Recruitment GmbH.


The misleading of the applicant is discouraged

Uta Rohrschneider wrote up Best of HR –® about how HR consultants avoid standard answers rehearsed during the interview. Personnel officer Christoph Athanas criticized the misleading of the applicant - it was much more about winning applicants as partners. Here are some ideas. Christoph Athanas wrote in his differentiated comment:

Such questions do not lead to the fact that you really learn more about your candidates, but that they perceive the interviews as incomprehensible, and then just close them and withdraw from the socially socially desirable behavior. Only to the loosening up and with good Anmoderation some of the questions above are to be used. Otherwise, I strongly need to advise against it, because without requirement and unprofessional. Candidates in the interview should be partners and not volunteers ...

Refreshed responses are standard

But how exactly do you win your applicants as a partner? That's not as easy as it sounds: job application training is not only taking place in schools today, but also at universities.

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In the meantime, every applicant knows which answers to standard questions and which ones are less liked to hear. By doing so Company ready-made and rehearsed answers, which usually says very little about the person.

Business guide

It remains questionable whether this question-answer game is the right way? The added value of rehearsed interviews, which run according to the schema F, can not be effective. After all, it means that the job market has changed and that the shortage of skilled workers means that companies have to apply to qualified employees.

But where are the business advisers? How do companies behave contemporaneously in job interviews? A simple and fundamental approach is to look at candidates not just as candidates, but as partners.

How diverse applicants are is often not recognized!

It is often forgotten that candidates slip into the applicants' role in the application process. This, however, is only a facet of the candidate and is not necessarily the same as the role of the employee, the colleague or the supervisor.

No matter how fancy the questions of the companies are or which tricks are used, if interviews are conducted in such a way that candidates find themselves exclusively in the candidate role, you only get to know this one facet.

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Machine or man?

“You can develop and train qualifications and skills with an employee. The personality, however, is given. Therefore, the crucial point for long-term cooperation is that companies and applicants fit together humanely ”, this quote comes from one of our clients.

And yet, many companies are engaged in job interviews as if they were testing machines for their abilities.

5 tips for a job interview: more than just querying your skills

When we were recruiting an engineer, we had to see that the technical director did not look at the candidate in the face of an hour and a half of the interview, but rather tested it as a machine for their skills in comparison to other machines.

It was a questioning of the candidate on a purely chronological and professional level without dialogue and without personality. You can guess. It was the candidate who, after the discussion with the company and the technical director as a superior, decided. Sure an extreme example, but how often does something similar happen in companies?

1. Create an open atmosphere

Create an atmosphere that does not need a bad joke or a standard icebreaker question. Give the candidate the feeling of being able to move freely.

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The friendlier and more pleasant the atmosphere, the less the candidate will "only" feel like an applicant. The less he "only" feels as an applicant, the better and more diverse they can get to know each other.

2. Even companies need to prepare themselves!

The positive atmosphere does not depend on the rooms. Rather, the candidate should feel welcome. Other factors play an important role. Do not let the candidate wait too long. This quickly leads to discomfort and uncertainty and can significantly interfere with the application interview.

Also, if this is not always easy to implement in the day-to-day business, you should not be stressed or pressurized into a job interview. But most of all, you should be prepared for the conversation. You should know who the candidate is and which position he or she is applying to. Take the time to make the call successful.

3. The first impression counts!

This sentence applies not only in private life, but also in job interviews. Not only you as a company judge whether the candidate is sympathetic to you, whether you judge him qualified and whether you can imagine working together. All the same assessment is made by the candidate. It is up to you what information you provide to the candidate for his decision-making basis.

You should give the candidate the opportunity to get a detailed picture of you, the company and potential colleagues. Because the times in which there were numerous applications are over. In addition, many candidates know their market value and attach great importance to individual incentives in addition to the general conditions such as salary, title and job.

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4. Application discussion at eye level!

How do you behave in stressful situations? What are your strengths and weaknesses? How do you work in the team? We know all these standard questions from job interviews. We also know that applicants are welcome to ask questions at the end of the interview. But why do so few department heads or personalleders actually present themselves to the candidate?

Candidates and their careers are audited by company employees, who often introduce themselves by name and title, but do not comment on themselves as individuals or their own careers. If a candidate asks for it, you often see surprised faces. However, a situational reaction always depends on the behavior and the reaction of the other person. Do not challenge your applicants, but conduct a dialogue at eye level.

5. Draw an honest picture!

Often, job interviews are conducted by department heads and personnel managers. Rarely, on the other hand, do the candidates work directly with them after recruitment. Use the opportunity of the interview to give the candidate the opportunity to get a first impression of their future colleagues.

Show him the possible future office, introduce him or her to individual colleagues, or even have one of your colleagues attend the interview. This will give the candidate a fair picture of your company. One of our clients has found that even candidates who have not been recruited are subconsciously acting as ambassadors, as they praise the company and the application process.

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  1. Henrik Zaborowski

    Hello in the round,

    I must agree with Christoph's objections to the questions referred to in the previous paper. Some of them do not go. As a candidate, I would be completely taken on my arm and would strongly doubt the professional competence of my counterpart.
    Zu Ihrer Skepsis, Frau Janson, hätte ich einen Tipp, der allerdings noch ein paar Jahre Kulturwandel braucht. Wenn wir Bewerben nicht als Prozess, sondern als Kennenlernen verstehen, kommen wir einen Schritt weiter. Und Kennenlernen kann heißen, ich habe mich als Bewerber schon mal mit potentiellen neuen Kollegen unterhalten (oder umgekehrt gedacht, geht natürlich auch). In einem unverbindlichen Austausch ohne konkreten Bewerbungsbezug ist Offenheit viel leichter möglich. Den Effekt haben wir ja bei Mitarbeiter- oder Netzwerkempfehlungen. Da ist jemand, den ich als Person schon kenne und weiß, wie er/sie tickt. Das fachliche kann später jemand anders abfragen. Aber ich weiß schon (und kann das HR oder dem potentiellen Chef weitersagen), dass mein Kontakt z. B. chaotisch ist – und kreativ. Dass er/sie Morgenmuffel ist und gerne spät nachts arbeitet etc.
    For such information, both the time and the openness are missing in the interview. Outside of a discussion talk comes however the more speak.
    Means for the companies: Give applicants the opportunity to talk to their employees before they even want to apply. And for the applicants: Use your networks and talk to people, not roles! And do not be afraid of openness. Otherwise you will end up in jobs and corporate cultures that do not suit you.
    Kind regards, Henrik Zaborowski

    • Simone Janson

      Hello Mr. Zaborowski,
      I am completely in your opinion, wittily, this is precisely my thesis in my next column in the world, which appears next Friday. I also see again and again that it works this way and it is perhaps even for small businesses the way.

      On the other hand, there is a tendency among large companies to carry out systematic searches and to apply application databases according to Scheme F to the blood tests of applicants. When I look at this, this recipe seems comparatively naive. Or, what I've seen before, conservative companies are more of a pseudolock.

      Another point: When it comes to networking, those who are the ones who can market themselves are in the lead. That does not necessarily have to be the most suitable candidate, as I repeatedly notice. And openness is good, but sometimes it comes down to the intricacies of communication. I know that from myself: you can say a lot. But that's how it matters. I would like to point to the post / authentic.

      In the sense that I think it's great that you break a lance for open communication and networking, I agree with you. But you also have to look at it a little more differentiated.

  2. Kelly Services

    Recruit applicants as partners - Part 1: Conduct dialogue with the candidates

  3. Christoph Athanas

    I am pleased that my skeptical comment from the aforementioned contribution was taken up herewith. I would have liked to continue the dialogue, but could not because of time reasons. So here are my three cents on the subject:
    1) Viele Facetten: Ja, ich denke alle Menschen kennen das Gefühl nicht in eine einzige Schublade gesteckt werden zu wollen. Wenn ich in der Bewerberrolle bin, möchte idealerweise gerade mehr “Rollen” von mir zeigen, als die des Bewerbers (welche ja in der Situation zwangsläufig ist). Dies werde ich als Bewerber aber nur dann tun, wenn ich den Eindruck habe, dass dies erwünscht ist und man mich ggf. dazu ermutigt. Dann kann das Interview für das Unternehmen auch deutlich mehr Tiefgang bekommen und es gibt dann in der Tat eine bessere Vorschau darauf wie könnte der Bewerber als Kollege etc. sein. Der Schlüssel dazu ist Entspanntheit ins Gespräch zu bringen.
    2) First see the people, then the applicant! Personnel and other company representatives, who are only oriented on their interview process, usually miss a good host. This is important, however, in order to be able to conduct a good conversation (and thus ultimately to gain insight into the applicant in the interview process).
    3) Symbolic communication: The example with the supervisor, who never had eye contact with the applicant, is already violent. But also in a smaller dose symbolic communication, so what does the space look like, where the conversation takes place, how is the seating arrangement, which waiting time on the spot has an applicant up to the conversation (ideal: none) and how is this shaped etc. There is very many small proportions of symbolic communication, which in total work at the most subconscious level and contribute to a positive experience on the ground. It is worthwhile to think about it, especially when you consider how important the decision is for or against a candidate. Compared to this, shopping in the supermarket is super-trivial, but there is nothing unplanned! Why should companies not plan with themselves the details around the applicant capture?

    Ok, fine, if those thoughts keep the topic moving. Anyone who would like more information on how to improve the Candidate Experience in the interview can find it here in my blog 5 Tips: candidate interview-five-points-the-recruiter-note-should /

    Und übrigens: Ich bin nicht Personaler, sondern HR-Berater – aber ist ja dicht dran ;-)

    Many greetings, Christoph Athanas

    • Simone Janson

      Hello Mr. Athanas,
      Anregungen greifen wir immer gerne auf und den Personaler – HR-Berater habe ich verbessert.
      Was Ihren Optimismus hinsichtlich des Facetten-Reichtums angeht, bin skeptisch: So viel Zeit ist doch in Unternehmen gar nicht vorhanden, sich so ausführlich mit einem Bewerber auseinanderzusetzen. Wer da hinsichtlich seiner Qualifikationen nicht perfekt ins Bild passt, wird schon lange vor dem Vorstellungsgespräch aussortiert. Das zeigt z.B. auch die Einteilung beim Medienleistungstest in A, B & C-Bewerbungen. Wenn Sie für dieses Dilemma eine Lösung haben, würde ich mich freuen.

  4. SNTlive

    RT @CAthanas: #Personal selection dialog with the candidates

  5. Christoph Athanas

    #Personal selection dialog with the candidates

  6. Competencepartner

    Bewerber als Partner gewinnen – Teil 1: Dialog mit den Kandidaten führen: Vor kurzem schrieb U… #Beruf #Bildung

  7. QRC Group AG

    #Better as Partner - Part 1: #Dialog with the #Kandidaten lead

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