“Why should I hire you?”

almost 9 years ago by Huw Martin
The Apprentice Sir Alan Sugar Blog

​Noooo! This is not the way! Its reminiscent of a culture and a time when, dare I say it, the hirer had control. This is not the case in today’s hiring landscape!

Now I know I’ve used too many exclamation marks already however its to demonstrate how passionately I believe that modern hiring needs to change, and that companies playing good cop bad cop (those of you who have seen “The Other Guys” will get the picture) is not required, thank you very much!

I sat in front of an IT director the other week who is a really nice person; he has built a large and successful team of engineers, analysts and project people, and cares deeply about the company he’s worked at for a considerable period of his life. He was, however, bemoaning the fact that lots of candidates that had applied for jobs with his company weren’t accepting jobs when offered, and he couldn’t understand why.

Now I’m no psychologist, being a simple boy from the valleys, but it didn’t take too long to unearth that one of the simplest reasons for the challenge at hand was the interview itself. Low and behold the first interview was conducted by one of the ITD’s trusted deputies; a person who’d been with the company for a very long time, but whose style of interviewing (whilst no doubt successful during the times of plenty) was not really fit for today’s landscape. Now this person is a vital part of the company and his technical expertise are second to none. My point is not that this person shouldn’t be involved – of course he should – however he maybe could use some assistance in how to interview in today’s world to best attract the young digital natives and tech graduates that have different expectations of a company (thanks “The Internship”, Google, Amazon et al)!

One of the key pieces of feedback after a number of ‘successful’ interviews (that didn’t result in someone starting a job) was that “the interviewer didn’t sell either the company or job prior to grilling me on my tech skills”. Does this matter? Is it unfair on the hiring company? They obviously need talented skilled people and can’t spend time meeting everyone with IT or digital on their CV, but IT REALLY DOES MATTER!

“We should be looking for ways to rule people in as opposed to ruling them out in this tight market for digital, technical or hard to find skills” – I heard another client of ours use this phrase, and I agree.

One of the questions that would really get my back up – if I were a digital native or software engineer in more demand than any IT skillset EVER – would be, “Why should I hire you?” – er… Maybe you shouldn’t. Thanks, I’m off!

The days of good cop bad cop at interviews, the days of large panels of dour-faced people trying to catch candidates out, the days of no water on the table (what was that about anyway?) or interviewing in a tiny little room as ‘the chairman’s son has “borrowed” the boardroom for a school project’ (?), they all are redundant in a competitive world where we have too few skilled people to fill the currently open and future planned roles, and also where those same skilled people have more choice than ever.

It seems obvious to some, but bad habits and time-honored ways of doing things sometimes mean that people don’t see the wood for the trees when it comes to interviewing.

The key factors which seem to influence decisions to join a company are (in no particular order):

  • Interesting work

  • Technical stack

  • Rewards

  • Culture and values

  • Location

  • Management

  • “Does my work matter?”

  • Workspace, flexibility etc.

Given that it’s clearly about more than just money and location, what, as interviewers, do we need to do to make sure that these other key things which will impact my decision are translated and explained at interview?

In reality, we need to learn, and learn fast, as apathy or annoyance at your resourcing people will not solve the problem. Get marketing your company, or even your teams, like never before; start selling the positives and ensure that whenever a candidate walks through the door, the experience is a wholly positive one. Make sure that your interviewers are the best representation of your brand and company and make sure that empathy and compassion are as much part of their skillset as technical brilliance, because otherwise that gem of a candidate might just choose your competitor through no other reasons than the “feel” of the interview wasn’t as good.

I’m off to interview someone for our company… what questions should I use?

“So, why should I hire y– d’oh!”

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