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Hiring managers must always remind themselves that interviews are two-way processes – an opportunity for both the organisation and the candidate to find out whether they are suitable for one another. It is critical therefore that hiring managers keep at the forefront of their mind the need to sell the benefits of the role and the organisation to the candidate at interview.
This is particularly true for hiring managers looking to fill a difficult role, for smaller charities who may not be able to compete on salary, or those with offices in less central 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.
Here, I take a 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.
‘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 is important to know exactly what they are 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. Look for any areas on their CV where there may be cross-over – e.g. if you offer time to volunteer for other charities and the candidate has a Trustee or volunteer role listed on their CV, mention this benefit specifically in the context of their volunteering.
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.
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 is 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 is missing from your offering and either correct it or stress other areas in which you are strong.
There is also a lot of information out there to help you benchmark your organisation. Use salary surveys and monitor charity job boards 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.
People who work for non-profit organisations 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 is important to be able to effectively communicate the values and vision of the organisation.
In the same way as you would 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.
When you are 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 the job.
Exciting plans 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 are one of the key ways for you to distinguish yourself without increasing salaries. Job seekers in the non-profit sector generally expect better benefits. Some things to consider mentioning include:
Flexible working has always scored highly in terms of employees’ motivations for moving roles. More organisations are planning for how to adopt flexible working practices into their ongoing HR policies, to stand out from other employers, you might want to think about full-time flexibility and whether that suits you. We anticipate that most organisations will adopt a hybrid model going forward – this is great, but still anchors the candidate to a specific geographical location. True flexibility – working from home as the norm with working patterns to suit the candidate will help you stand out from others, attract candidates from a much broader geography, and also open the door to a more diverse pool of candidates.
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 the interview, as offering them better benefits can head off rejections based on salary from the outset.
While all good interviewees should have done their research into your organisation’s performance, 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 staff turnover, 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.
Think about the track record of promotions/achievements in your team and broader staff development. You need to discover the things that make your organisation a good place to work and distinguishes you from other potential employers.
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 job seekers, 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.
It is 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 will have to act to get them on board, but also gives you an idea of what they are looking for.
A significant advantage of using recruitment consultancies like TPP to fill your vacancies is that job seekers will often trust third-party endorsements more than those from the horse’s mouth. We are experts in recruiting for the non-profit sector, and we know exactly what best motivates our candidates. We take the time, wherever possible, to get to know your organisation, so all the candidates we send to interview will already have a positive (but honest) impression of your organisation.
For further information on how TPP can support your organisation to attract more candidates, please contact me on 0207 198 6040.