Making a Great First Interview Impression as a Recruiter was originally published on Hospital Recruiting.
You’ve worked hard to source and schedule top talent for your facility. The challenging job market has made it difficult, but you’re confident you have a good selection of candidates from which to choose. As you prepare to meet potential new hires, consider the interview process from their side of the desk. You’re evaluating everything about job seekers – from the first impression they make to the final handshake. They’re doing the same.
Are you making a great first impression on potential new staff for your institution? Recruiters rely on the signals a candidate makes when they interview – are they on time, prepared with smart questions, well-groomed and poised? Recruiters may forget to consider they’re also making a first impression – of themselves and their institution. This dual responsibility could mean the difference between applicants waiting by the phone for that offer or being ghosted.
Offering top flight candidate experience is critical for healthcare facilities in a challenging talent market. Impressions matter – whether it’s the impression the recruiter makes on the candidate or the impression they get of the facility overall. Make the best impression in these areas to secure the best talent available.
We coach applicants to show up for the interview on time, but for recruiters, timeliness begins long before we sit down and talk. The time from application to interview should be as quick as possible in any market; in today’s market, quick scheduling is critical. Your sense of timeliness should ramp up to a sense of urgency. The longer applicants wait for you to call, the more chances someone else has to hire them.
Contact applicants immediately – you should be checking for applications/resumes throughout the day if your site doesn’t notify you when they are received. Schedule interviews quickly, including second and third interviews if warranted. Make all necessary follow-up – phone calls, reference checks, license verifications, etc., as though time was of the essence – because it is. The impression you make: we want you on our team ASAP.
Look the part.
No one wants to interview a slovenly candidate, and no one wants to be interviewed by a messy recruiter. You’re likely dressed professionally at all times to make a good impression; make sure your surroundings look the same. Is your office neat and presentable? You may have stacks of personnel requisitions you need to deal with, but having them piled on the floor makes you look overwhelmed – and makes a job seeker wonder why you don’t have adequate filing space.
If you take applicants to meet others, is their space neat and professional? Meeting with a department head whose office looks like a cyclone hit it doesn’t inspire confidence. Would you want to work for someone who looks so disorganized they’ll probably lose your performance reviews in their clutter?
Be polite to everyone you meet.
Of course you’ll be on your etiquette game with candidates, but show off your courtesy and professionalism throughout your time with them. When you walk out to meet them, make sure to thank the receptionist for keeping them company for you. If you tour the facility with them, say hello to colleagues you meet in the hallway. You may even want to introduce the candidate as a possible new member of the team. The impression you give is of a respectful, close-knit facility. Who wouldn’t want to work there?
Put your phone away and on silent.
Your undivided attention is the best first impression you can make. Nothing says you’re not important more than someone who is sneaking a glance at his/her phone or screen – much less doing it overtly. Make a show of transferring your calls to voicemail and putting your phone in a drawer or face down. Most everything else can wait.
Look them in the eye.
Look at candidates full-on when interviewing. Looking away makes it appear you’re not being honest and forthright. We read other’s facial expressions when we converse, and strong eye contact is associated with credibility. You’re confident your institution is a great place to work and the job seeker would do well to join your team. If you want job seekers to feel confident that they’re interviewing in the right place, look them in the eye when you speak.
Few things say ‘you’re not important’ more than meeting with someone who has to look through a stack of papers to remember what you’re supposed to be talking about. Your desk should be clean of everything but the application, and you should have taken a quick minute to review it before you called the candidate in – just so you have an overview of what you’ll discuss.
After you’ve completed the first interview, be prepared to schedule the next one, if warranted. Have the contact information, schedule, and details about who the candidate will meet with next at your fingertips, ready to set up at the end of your meeting, if possible. You’ll be messaging the candidate that you and your facility are highly organized and interested in snagging them before the competition can.
Your institution may have a stellar reputation in the community or worldwide, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to sell it to potential new hires. They want to know what the facility will do for them – as employees – as much as they want to know how it serves the community. Don’t rely on your reputation alone. You’ll want to talk about how your institution treats staff members, how they’re an integral part of your mission, and how the potential hires can reach their professional goals at your facility.
Don’t be tone-deaf.
Too often recruiters get into an interview rut. They’ve asked the same questions – many of them really good questions – so often they tune into the answers but tune out the tone. There are verbal and visual cues to be heard if you’re willing to hear and watch. A candidate may seem keenly interested in parts of the job: take notice and ask why. He or she may skim over other areas, which should prompt you to explore further. Going down unplanned interview pathways can be revealing if you’re willing to take the time.
No matter how many interviews you do per day/week/year, every candidate is an individual. Really listening and conversing with each individual gives the impression that you as a recruiter, and your institution as an employer, care about individual employees. That can be a strong pull for potential hires.
Of course you’ll be asking questions to learn about the candidates’ background, experience and goals, but consider asking questions from their side of the desk.
If you were interviewing with your institution, what questions would you want to be asked? Are these in your interview repertoire? Are you asking about what drives the candidates, where their passion lies in the field, what their goals are? Going beyond the ‘tell me about your experience’ individualizes the process. Does your process suggest candidates are a list of jobs and job titles, or that they’re a person you want on your team?
You only get one chance to make a good first impression. For healthcare recruiters, there are dozens of touch points along the way where you can shine or falter. It starts with a reception area that’s neat and welcoming (maybe even offer a bottle of water or a cup of coffee before the interview) and moves through a process that messages your sense of urgency and the value of their time. Every impression you make can be a great one, if you consider the process from the other side of the desk.