Before you purchased your last auto, did you check out reviews and ratings from Consumer Reports or Kelley Blue Book? Or did you pull into the first dealership you came upon and flip a coin or buy the first vehicle that caught your eye? I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that most of us do our homework before making a major purchase. So I have to ask, is deciding on a job or company any different? After last week’s post, I’m amazed that some recruiters think it’s too much to ask to expect candidates to know how your company differs from its key competitors or for them to be able to tell you why they want to work for your company. Are you kidding me? Talk about setting the bar low…yikes.
I’ll be the first one to admit that even though companies see themselves as having vastly different cultures, missions, and values, from an outsider’s perspective they often appear very similar. Most organizations position themselves as industry leaders and extol their commitment to teamwork, customer service, and the community. But even when that’s the case, candidates should still be able to show that they know that’s what your company is about and know enough about your key competitors to highlight at least a few similarities or differences. If not, why are so many companies spending millions of dollars on marketing?
Back to the car example, if you ask most people why they purchased a certain make and model, they would be able to tell you, for example, that they purchased a multi-purpose vehicle because they are remodeling and they wanted something they could use to haul building materials. Notice I didn’t mention knowing everything there is to know about the vehicle, but at the very least being able to articulate why you purchased one instead of another. If a candidate can’t tell you how your company is different from your competitors or why he or she wants to work for your company, they don’t get it and probably never will. Recruiters can’t lower their standards on this one.
Some of the confusion can come from information overload. Slick brochures, company websites, videos, commercials, tag lines, brand promises, and, as one poster put it “companies wanting to be all things to all people.” I get that. But, if you’re looking to hire rock star candidates or diamonds in the rough, it’s up to them to sift through all of the information before the interview. At the very least, they should have checked out your website before the interview.
So, unless you’re looking to hire someone for the World Series of Limbo (something I’ve thought about pitching to the television networks), don’t lower the bar. With all of the information that’s available at the click of a mouse, our expectations of candidates should be getting higher, not lower.
Shawn Graham is an Associate Director with the MBA Career Management Center at UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School and author of Courting Your Career: Match Yourself with the Perfect Job (courtingyourcareer.wordpress.com).