Conducting job interviews remotely is set to become commonplace as we enter the next era of work. But how can you replicate that ‘feeling’ candidates get for your organisation when they interview with you in-person, if they are just staring into a screen, devoid of the sensory overload they would experience during a face-to-face interview? How can a potential employee truly get an understanding of what it really would be like to work for your organisation, if they won’t be physically setting foot in your offices and meeting your people?
To help answer these important questions, I will share my thoughts on how to sell your employer brand when interviewing remotely or in a hybrid world. But, before we dive in, let’s look at what exactly we mean by the term ‘employer brand’ and how yours might need to change as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In his book The Employer Brand Handbook: Volume 1, keynote speaker James Ellis defines employer branding as communicating “the aggregated perceptions and feeling of all individuals about what they think it must be like to work at your company, based on all related experiences, information and touchpoints.” A carefully constructed, strong employer brand will help your organisation not only attract the right talent, but also keep that talent engaged and motivated to help you achieve your goals in the long-term. It is sometimes described as ‘the face your company presents to the world.’
Your corporate brand is different from your employer brand on a number of levels. The most notable, of course, being the audiences you’re trying to reach and engage with. As explained in this Glassdoor article, the audience for your corporate brand are the customers of your products and services. Whereas the audience for your employer brand are your current and future employees.
Due to the coronavirus crisis, many organisations are operating in a new, increasingly complex reality - difficult decisions have been made and are still to be made. Now more than ever before, organisations are being held to account over how they make and execute those decisions – some are doing this well, and others not so well.
Ultimately, it will be how leaders and their organisations have responded, and continue to respond, to the pandemic, that will have a profound impact on people’s propensity to want to come and work for you, and stay working for you.
As our CEO, Alistair Cox explains, “All eyes have been firmly focused on how employers have treated their employees during this time. Many have made mistakes, and I’m sure most would consider doing things differently if they could roll back the clock, but, whether you like it or not, your actions as an employer throughout this pandemic will be remembered by employees for a long, long time to come.”
Undoubtedly, this kind of scrutiny will impact the employer brand of organisations the world over, so it’s unlikely yours will emerge unscathed or unchanged. Therefore, changes to your strategy will likely need to be made. Many employer branding experts even predict there will be a ‘seismic’ shift in how organisations present themselves to potential employees as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
So, take some time to assess how your overall employer brand, and your employer value proposition (i.e. the value your employees gain from working at your organisation rather than for a competitor – described as ‘the face your company shows its employees’) have both fared during the crisis so far.
Consider which changes you will need to implement to really resonate with your current and future people in the next era of work – a world which will look very different from before. After all, it’s those people that will be absolutely key to your organisation’s recovery post-crisis, so it’s important that your communication with each and every one of them, current and future, and across every touchpoint, is on point.
Key to understanding how the elements of your employer brand strategy might need to change, is recognising that the pandemic will have left many people – your current and future people included – with different attitudes to work. For example, the crisis may have left many questioning their ‘why’, meaning your organisational purpose may become a more important part of your employer brand strategy going forward.
Some will now place more emphasis on their own self-care and wellbeing, recognising the importance of flexibility and balance in their lives – which again, should be emphasised in your approach. Or perhaps you need to review your benefits packages to ensure they are more relevant to what people want today and tomorrow – for example mental and financial wellbeing initiatives may become more important in the next era of work. But across all of this, you must ensure you have a razor-sharp focus on how you’re living your values externally and internally, and all actions and decisions you make from here on out should be consistent with those.
Importantly, set up focus groups to talk to your existing employees about their perceptions and opinions – they will often be the richest source of insight as they can reflect on their ‘lived experience’ of your company culture and EVP.
I’m not saying here that your entire employer brand strategy will need a complete overhaul in the wake of COVID-19, but it’s very likely that certain elements of your EVP (the tangible and intangible rewards you offer employees), may need to be further brought to the fore or developed as we progress through each stage of the pandemic. You may also need to tailor your EVP to appeal to different groups of individuals – after all, we’re all different and will seek different things from our employers and our work.
Once you’ve determined how the core elements of your employer brand strategy and EVP need to change, it’s then time to review how this will be executed and communicated to the audiences you’re looking to reach. Post-COVID, this may require a change in approach too, for example:
Now we’ve established why and how your employer brand strategy may need to change in light of the coronavirus crisis, I’m going to now explore how you can bring your newly-refreshed employer brand to life when interviewing remotely.
This is a difficult challenge to overcome. After all, when conducting face-to-face interviews, the candidate immediately gets a feel for your employer brand by simply setting foot in one of your offices, by experiencing the sights and sounds of your carefully crafted working environment, by interacting with your people and so on. But this sensory experience isn’t as easy to replicate when interviewing remotely.
So, here are a few techniques you could use to try to help your candidates really get a feel for why they should want to work for your organisation:
Your organisation will need to evolve as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. But so too, will how you position your organisation in the eyes of your current and potential people, and what you offer them. Increasingly, the opportunities and tools you’ll have available to you in the next era of work to communicate this will be virtual or remote. So, I hope this advice has helped you better understand how you can bring your employer brand to life when interviewing remotely in order to attract the right talent to help your organisation thrive in the next era of work.
For additional resources on topics including onboarding remotely, managing hybrid or flexible teams and undertaking virtual interviews as we move forward, visit our Inspire Me in the New Era of Work hub.
Gaelle joined Hays in 1999, and in her time with the business, she has led dedicated teams providing expert recruitment services for a wide range of sectors and professions. In 2018, Gaelle started her current role as UK&I Director of Hays Permanent Appointments, where she works with 800 Permanent Appointments consultants across the UK and Ireland. She helps organisations to find the talent they need to achieve their goals, and help customers to find the roles they need to move their careers forwards. In July 2020, Gaelle was also appointed as UKI Director of Hays Construction & Property, leading the 300+ recruitment consultants in the largest specialist Construction & Property recruiter in the UK.
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