Helping Candidates Feel Significant Pays Off

by Karen Stafford, MHRM, SPHR, Arizona President

Hot Topics,  HR Expertise and Support

What does your hiring process look like from the other side of the desk? Taking that perspective can make all the difference in the ultimate outcome. As part of his “Fundamental Interpersonal Relations Orientation” theory, social psychologist Will Schutz maintained that at some level we all want to feel significant, competent, and liked. If this is the case, are there cues for us to keep in mind throughout the hiring process to improve our outcomes?

In what ways does our hiring process indicate we think our candidates are significant? Perhaps we do this by:

  • Ensuring we follow up when we commit to doing so;
  • Responding to their inquiries in a timely manner;
  • Making sure that when they arrive, they are greeted warmly and met with on time;
  • Building time into the interview to understand what they are seeking in their next job;
  • Keeping candidates posted along the way in the process; and
  • Closing the loop with all candidates, even if they aren’t a fit for the organization. After all, in today’s social media-savvy world, regardless of industry, any candidate can serve as a brand fan.

How does our interview process support the candidate’s competence? Candidates need to do their own homework about the company, but if you know something that might be helpful for them to bring or prepare for the interview, sharing that up front sets all parties up for success.

We can support this element of consideration by:

  • Confirming interview appointment time and location via email as soon as it is set. It creates a paper trail and reference point for all parties involved.
  • Sharing key information about directions (beyond Siri or Google Maps) or registration upon arrival. For example, if interviewing with a federal contractor, do they need to bring a specific form of ID?
  • Ensuring they know with whom they will be meeting, if it is more than you as the hiring manager.
  • Giving clear guidance of what the interview will look like. For example, if you expect them to arrive in time to complete an employment application prior to the interview, make this clear when you set the appointment.
  • Sharing the job description for the position in question, so the candidate has a better idea of what the position entails. This way, they can prepare and you can have a more focused discussion during the interview. This also helps them self-select out of the process if this isn’t what they’d hoped for, saving you both time and energy.

“Almost every organization I have ever worked with claims to place a high value on empowerment,” Schutz once said. “Almost none really means it.” Something as simple as showing candidates they’re significant through common courtesy can help make you an employer of choice.

About the author
Karen Stafford, MHRM, SPHR, Arizona President

With over 25 years of human resources experience, Karen has served in senior management and HR consulting positions in a variety of business settings. From nonprofit agencies and small businesses to Fortune 500 corporations, Karen’s expertise spans the industries of property casualty insurance, family entertainment, health care, and banking. Karen has counseled and trained hundreds of Employers Council members and other HR professionals on the topics of supervision, leadership development, human resources, workplace harassment prevention, performance management, and employment law. Karen holds a master's degree in human resources management from the University of Hawaii.