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How to sell your organisation to interviewees

An interview is a two-way process; it’s an opportunity for both the organisation and the candidate to find out whether they are suitable for each other.

It looks like the job market is starting to recover, meaning that there will be more roles out there and jobseekers can start to be more selective.  And as we mentioned before, the very best candidates are always in high demand, and there are some roles that will always prove difficult to recruit for.

Particularly for smaller charities, who may not be able to compete on salary, or those in less attractive locations, it is important to sell the benefits of working for your organisation, both functional (location, salary, benefits) and intangible (passion for our work, workplace culture), so that candidates will choose to work for you.  In this month’s blog, we look at some of the most effective ways to sell your organisation during the interview process; giving you the best chance of attracting and appointing the best candidates.

Start with what your candidate wants

Know your customer’ is a basic rule of successful sales – in this case your customer is your candidate.  To make your organisation as attractive as possible to them, it’s important to know exactly what they’re looking for and how you can meet their expectations.

Although it’s important to keep competency-based interview questions standard to all interviewees, the section where you talk about your organisation should ideally be tailored to each individual.  Bear this in mind when you are reading through their CV or doing online research prior to an interview.  For example, if they have children (and voluntarily mention this) they are much more likely to be interested in family-friendly policies and benefits.

It’s also a good idea to find out if your candidate is interviewing elsewhere, and if so, where and when.  This gives you an idea of the timescale in which you’ll have to act to get them on board, but also gives you an idea of what they are looking for.

Of course, the easiest way to find out what is important to a candidate is simply to ask them in the interview.  You can then immediately tell them how strong your organisation is in these areas.

Do your research

You can find out a lot about how attractive your organisation is as an employer by simply asking your candidates and existing employees a few questions.  For example, speak to employees who have recently joined and ask them how they found the interview process and what particularly attracted them to the organisation or role.

After a round of recruitment, it’s best practice to follow up with candidates (particularly those who went to other organisations instead of yours) about the interview process and their decisions.  This can help you find out what’s missing from your offering and either correct it or stress other areas in which you are strong.

There’s also a lot of information out there to help you benchmark your organisation.  Use salary surveys and monitor charity job  advertising to find out if the salaries and benefits you offer are competitive and to discover which areas you’ll need to compensate for.  A good recruitment consultancy like TPP will include this in their recruitment service.

Sell the mission

People who work for charities almost always do so because they are passionate about their cause and want to make a difference.  Your organisation’s mission is one of the most valuable recruitment sales tools you have and it’s important to be able to effectively communicate the values and vision of the organisation.

In the same way as you’d attract potential donors, you can use stories to illustrate exactly how important the services you offer are and the impact that they have on the community.  Make sure you cover both what your organisation is and does, and what you hope to achieve in the future.

Wherever possible, relate what you do to the interviewee’s background and previous experience.  One of the easiest ways to do this is to ask interviewees why they want to work for you and use their reply to tell them why they should work for you.

Talk about the future

When you’re talking about your organisation, and the role in general, it’s important to cover any plans for the future, as these could have a dramatic effect on both the organisation and job.  Is the organisation planning to expand or take on new responsibilities?  Do you have an ambitious strategy or a 5-year plan?  How will this affect their department or team?

Exciting plans for the future are generally attractive to potential employees as they suggest that the organisation is ambitious and forward-thinking and that their role could develop as the organisation does.

Benefits

Benefits are one of the key ways for charities to distinguish themselves as employers without increasing salaries and jobseekers in the third sector generally expect better benefits.  Some things to consider mentioning include:

  • Paid benefits like medical or dental cover or travel insurance

  • Salary sacrifice schemes for computers or mobile purchases, travel loans, childcare vouchers or cycle to work schemes

  • Do you offer more than 20 days annual leave?  Are there extended breaks around holidays?

  • Extra payments to cover relocation or travel

  • Parental leave cover

  • Pension contributions

  • Flexible or home working options

TPP has done a great deal of research into charity employees’ motivations for moving roles and we have found that two areas score consistently highly: pension contributions and flexible working.  Make sure you are familiar with your organisation’s policy on flexible working and pension plan, as these are the areas that are most likely to affect a candidate’s decision to join you.

While some organisations have a fixed benefits package, others are willing to negotiate with key employees to get them on board.  Make sure you know if this is an option prior to interview, as offering them better benefits can head off rejections based on salary from the outset.

Employer Brand

While all good interviewees should have done their research into your organisation’s performance as a charity, they may not be aware of your track record as an employer.  Look for opportunities during the interview to talk about your organisation’s reputation as an employer and show them why you have this reputation.

If you have a particularly low turnover of staff, this is a good sign that they are happy working there.  You can also mention employee satisfaction surveys, if you conduct them, or any employer certifications or awards you have received.  You need to discover the things that make your organisation a good place to work and distinguishes you from other potential employers.

Office culture

We’ve talked before about the importance of recruiting to fit your organisation’s culture.  The day-to-day working atmosphere can have a big impact on how happy your employees are and it’s important to cover this in interviews so candidates know whether it will suit them.

Obviously, different candidates want different types of environment, so consider how your organisation could appeal to people at different stages of life.  Are you a ‘fun’ employer with lots of social activities, do you offer stability and family-friendly benefits, or are you a diverse organisation with a wide range of characters?

Don’t duck any issues

No organisation can be perfect for every employee and there are always going to be areas in which you score lower than others.  However, there might be some obvious things that could put candidates off.  In this case, they are best addressed in the interview, when you can put a positive spin on the problem, rather than it being swept under the carpet.

For example, if you are a smaller charity in an out-of-town location which might put some candidates off, you could stress the benefits of a rural location such as less noise and pollution, an easier commute with plenty of parking, support for the local community etc.

In this period, job stability is one of the most important motivators for jobseekers, so if your organisation has just had a reorganisation or round of redundancies, make sure you talk about the reasons why this occurred and the benefits it has brought to the organisation, as well as stressing that this period is now over.

Or get someone else to do it for you…

A significant advantage of using recruitment consultancies like TPP to fill your vacancies is that jobseekers will often trust third party endorsements more than those from the horse’s mouth.  We are experts in recruiting for the third sector, and we know exactly what best motivates our candidates.  We take the time, wherever possible, to get to know your organisation and its culture, so all the candidates we send to interview will already have a positive (but honest) impression of your organisation.