Why Our CEO Personally Conducts Every First-Round Interview

Most companies today have something to say about their company culture and how it makes them unique with regard to what they do and how they treat their employees. And that’s a good thing: Today’s employees are not motivated solely by money, and behaving as if they are will rarely lead to good long-term recruiting results.

When candidates are considering prospective employers, they have a broad range of questions they’d like to answer. Typically, that includes:

  1. What opportunities will I have once hired?  What might my long-term career growth look like with this company?
  2. Is this organization a collaborative and open one?
  3. Who will be my hiring manager, and what can I expect from their management style?
  4. What unique things does this company do internally to help drive external results?
  5. Are there opportunities to work remotely?
  6. Do I have any say in my work schedule?

Your hiring process should be designed to answer those questions for candidates — and, in doing so, it should convey the type of culture your company embodies.

Pay Attention to the Details

You can share a lot of information about your company culture before the first interview even starts, getting candidates excited about your company and job right from the start. Simple things matter: Even something as seemingly minor as using convenient interview-scheduling technology can send a positive message to candidates. They might start thinking, “Okay, this company is trying to make the recruiting process a good experience for me. I wonder what other interesting things they do there?”

Furthermore, you can and should set candidates’ expectations for your entire recruitment process at the outset. Use the initial call, email, or other point of contact to lay out all the details candidates need to know about how your hiring process will proceed. Don’t feel like you have to fit it all in one message — share a document or a link to more information so that candidates can peruse it at their leisure. Sharing this level of detail tells the candidate that your company is organized, prepared, and excited to start the hiring process with them. You can even take it a step further by having recruiters and hiring managers send additional messages about how excited they are to speak to the candidate.

Put Purpose First

As you work to convey your company culture during the recruiting process, be sure to tie that culture to a sense of overarching purpose as well. This can be an extremely powerful recruiting tool.

At Kognitiv, the company I co-founded, we do this from the very first interview, which is actually with me, the CEO. The purpose of the call is basically for me and the candidate to get to know each other. I always tell the candidate. “We want you to want to be here.” This is very important to us, because if a candidate is joining our company — or any company! — simply because they are looking for a change, chances are it won’t work out. If a candidate’s motivations in the recruiting process are 100 percent about them, with little concern for how they will align with the company’s purpose, then there won’t be a good culture fit.

That’s why the first interview is with me, the CEO. This way, we can make sure there’s a purpose alignment before an offer is made.

Granted, it’s possible for me to hold our first interviews because we have just a little over 100 people in our organization, so I can still do that initial call without being overloaded. If your organization is larger, the CEO may not be able to hop on first-round interviews, but another key decision-maker can still join in on the recruiting process.

During our interviews, we also tend to highlight a couple of our company values in the context of what we expect from candidates and what they can expect from Kognitiv itself. While doing this, we are highlighting our company culture and hopefully showing the candidate just how much it matters to us.

At the end of the day, the recruitment process is not just finding out whether a candidate knows enough to do a job. It’s about making deeper connections with candidates to see if they share the company’s culture, mission, and values, too.

After all, we all end up working together under one company roof. It’s up to the company to show the candidates what’s under that roof before they accept the job.

Luke Switkowski is cofounder of Kognitiv, Inc., the company behind Rooster.

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