Today’s entry is the first in a series that I will be writing aimed at helping those executives in the AEC community understand why they might be losing out to the competition when competing for great candidates and top talent. Having recruited civil engineering and architectural professionals for over 15 years I have witnessed some fantastic interviewing and hiring processes; I have witnessed some miserable ones as well. Most processes fall in the middle of that spectrum, so by understanding what you may NOT be doing and making some subtle (or not so subtle, depending how poor your process really may be) changes may help you reel in a higher percentage of top talent rather than losing them to the competition in the building down the street or the floor below!
The Red Carpet: If you are not rolling it out, candidates will not roll in.
Actually rolling out a red carpet from the reception area to the President’s office and putting up the candidate at the Ritz Carlton and providing limousine service is not necessarily what I am talking about here – and that would actually be quite odd in the civil engineering world. What I am really talking about is having the candidate have an enjoyable and memorable interviewing experience. Here are some ideas as to how your civil engineering consulting firm can “roll out the red carpet” during its interview process:
A. First Impressions. Have a clean and organized office exterior and internal reception / waiting area. We are dealing with engineers and architects here – they design exactly where water and dirt should go and they design beautiful bridges and buildings. They expect a clean cut and organized facility and reception area that is designed and maintained with pride. Unmaintained landscaping and cobwebs in the corners don’t make for great first impressions.
B. Greetings. Have the receptionist make them feel welcome and let it be known that they were expected. Have the receptionist greet him or her with a hand shake and maybe hand them a prepared folder with corporate marketing materials. That way when they leave and are at home they have constant reminder of how great the interview went (hopefully). Also, don’t make them wait more than five minutes. And when you are ready to meet the candidate, don’t have the receptionist bring them back to a meeting room or your office – come out and get them yourself!
C. Level of Comfort. Make them feel comfortable throughout the interview process by introducing them to some other folks that they could be potentially working with, and be sure to show them around. Some companies may have just the hiring manager interview a candidate, and maybe one other person. The truth is, they will feel much more comfortable at least getting to know some of the other folks they will be in the trenches with as well as what the physical work environment is like. This will help them actually envision themselves working with your civil engineering or architectural consulting firm…not to mention that you will get to see them interact and some extra sets of eyes and ears will allow additional perspectives and feedback regarding the candidate from your team.
D. Making Arrangements. If you are bringing someone in from out of town, have a system in place that allows for YOUR company to make all the arrangements rather than having the candidate make those arrangements themselves only to submit their receipts for reimbursement. This includes flight arrangements, shuttle service, car rental if necessary, hotel arrangements, etc.
E. Thank You Letters. Send the candidate a thank you letter; if not first, at least in a detailed response to the thank you letter that the candidate should have sent you. Trust me – this is not done very often at all. Some may think this is an example of a company showing their cards too early and may hurt them should offer negotiations ensue. I disagree. To me, this is an example of “continuously closing” that I will touch on at a later date. Personally speaking, if I was a candidate and I got an email from a prospective employer thanking me for MY time and sharing with me some of their thoughts on our interview, I would be flattered and encouraged, and I would feel great!
How does your company roll out the red carpet? Or, as a candidate, what are some examples where you have been given what you consider to be “red carpet treatment during an interview process that you went through?
Next topic in this series: MOMENTUM