Campus Interviews: Is Your Team Ready?


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Talent Formula’s August blog theme is Campus Interviews.
You learned all about marketing your opportunities in July with campus event month. In August, learn how to close the recruiting process through successful campus interviews. Expect to see topics on training campus interviewers, what to ask students, how to follow-up with students post interviews, and “reference” checking via social media.

Campus Interview Team: Your Brand’s On Stage Cast

Recruiting Interviewers
Lights, camera, action – the team is live on campus!

It’s that time of the year! Going on campus for interviews is the campus team’s most awaited day. This is where it really comes together – all that work of strategy sessions and planning – today is the day your brand comes to life to deliver results. It’s campus interview day. But, just like a play, a lot of the “art” happens behind the scenes – in the casting!

How will you choose your campus interview team?

You can’t do it alone. This is very much a team effort and you have to be prepared.

Training and setting your team up for success is the most important step for successful campus interviews. Choosing the right team gives you a solid foundation. It sets the tone on how the company will be represented on campus on a 1:1 level with each candidate.

The team must be well balanced and represent the different facets of the company or brand. Think back to the overall strategy and goal of the year so you can tailor the interviewee list in order to have the most impact.

Campus Interview Training in 4 Steps:

Step 1: The Invite aka Who’s Coming With Me?!

You thought you were a campus recruiter? Think again!

You have to be an internal recruiter and influence other colleagues to join your interview team. I recommend having an A List and then a B List for interviewers. Not to say the B List people are the last ditch effort but things happen. Just in case someone from your A List is ill, on vacation or had a client emergency – you’re covered.

Send the invite to the list at least 4 weeks in advanced. This will give them time to be able to block the training time and the actual interviews in their calendar. You should also give their manager the heads up to ensure they’re in the loop so include them on the email in the cc line.

Additionally, it’s a nice touch if a member of the executive team reiterates the importance of participation to this initiative. It shows full buy in from the executive team as well as importance of the existence of the campus program as the main source of future talent. A “Reply All” from your message achieves this quite easily.

Once they confirmed they can commit, send a meeting request for the training, and the actual interview days. You also want to include the travel time to and from campus, a map of the location and the nearest parking location. Don’t forget to set the expectation for the time you require on the follow up – more on this later on the post!

Step 2: The Training – Turnkey All The Way!

KISS – Keep It Simple Sista’! (Or KISB – Keep It Simple Bro!)

As these colleagues are lending their time, you need to make it easy for them. Remember, they’re not recruiters so this is not their métier so to speak – simplify and you’re on your way!

The training itself should not be any longer than 2 hours. The objective is to get the basics of interviewing down so the time spent on campus is maximized.

Pro-Tip:

You want the team to have the following key takeaways:

Legalities when conducting an interview

No asking off side questions that includes but is not limited to:

  • Race, language, culture, gender
  • Sexual orientation, age, differing physical ability
  • Ethnicity, religion, marital status, parental status
  • Class, socioeconomic status
  • Inappropriate comments
  • It’s important for the interviewer to be empowered to be able to say, “To best answer that question, I will have to follow up with you separately.” If they don’t know the answer to something a candidate asks, then take the question down and move on to the next. Just remember, someone actually does have to follow-up!

    Common interview watch outs

    Have the interviewers be aware of common interview watch outs such as:

  • The “Miracle Worker” – I call this the “Miracle Worker” because this happens when a candidate is seen as being perfect and the end all and be all of the bunch. No one is perfect, we all have opportunity areas and this should be considered in choosing the best fit for the role.
  • The “Twinsies” – “Oh my gosh, you love coffee? Me too and so does our CEO!”- just because a candidate has the same interests or belong to the same community group, it doesn’t mean that they are also going to perform the way you would or that they are a fit for the role based only solely on these factors.
  • The “Loves Music, Loves to Dance” – not necessarily! The interviewers shouldn’t presume what a candidate would be like before even meeting them. There are many things that are on a resume, and if you’re curious just ask, but don’t go into the interview expecting the answer you would’ve picked for yourself.
  • Want to see more Interviewer tips? Here’s a great post from Monster!

    Expectations

    Consider expectations both from the candidate and the interviewer or the company:

  • The type of interview we are conducting – group, 1:1, behavioural interview?
  • The type of positions currently open and what skill sets are we looking for?
  • Follow up and next steps – how long until we contact the candidate, etc.
  • Step 3: The Actual Interview – On Campus, On Stage!

    Practice makes perfect so practice and role play as part of your training plan!

    During the actual interview, the interviewer should lead the conversation and implement best practices.

    A few reminders during the training:

  • Keep track of time and keep the candidate on track! Often the interviews are scheduled in a very tight timeline so you’d want to be respectful of the next candidate’s time as well.
  • Don’t be afraid of a short pause or silence. This gives the candidate the opportunity to think or formulate the best answer and is especially helpful when it’s a behavioural interview.
  • Importance of Note Taking. Take notes but ensure they are observing the legal guidelines as mentioned above.
  • Probe not don’t guide. If the answer is not clear, probe the candidate but don’t lead them to the “right” answer or what you’re looking for.
  • Step 4: The Follow Up – Fortune is in The Follow Up!

    As much as we want to hire the best candidates and top talent in the field, we have to be aware of another thing – The candidate also has to want the company!

    You can highlight the company culture by ensuring they have a great candidate experience regardless of the interview outcome. Set the expectations from the get go and have a timely follow up. If the person following up is not the specific interviewer, let the candidate know that as well. It’s important that they know this before they even leave the interview.

    If dealing with high volume recruiting, the recommended next steps are:

  • Inform the candidate at the end of the interview when to expect a follow up regardless of outcome.
  • Method of Follow-up
  • If moving on to next step, they will get a phone call follow up. If not, then an email follow up, aka regret letter. You can automate the regret letter depending on the candidate management system you have in place.

    Do You Know How to Raise the Bar?

    The competition is fierce out there. So what are you doing at the interview stage in order to elevate your employment brand and have full candidate engagement?

    Heineken decided to step out of the box and put potential candidates through the most bizarre interview scenarios and situations. It helped them get the candidates they wanted and build their employment brand.

    They wanted to see what the instinctual reaction would be from these interviewees while being documented on video. At the end of the process, they narrowed it down to the top three candidates and the internal Heineken team voted on the successful candidate. How did they reveal it? Oh no big deal, just in front of thousands of soccer fans in a stadium with the successful candidate on the big screen.

    While I don’t recommend going this extreme for everyday interviews, you have to admit that the idea is genius. This not only elevated the Heineken employment brand and the company culture but also showed the forward thinking strategy of the brand. It also took top talent and connected them to their dream job. Sounds like saving the world? Pretty close. During this process, they received over 1,700 applications from all over the world. Before this off the wall-move, they already had the interest of the candidates and the full buy in to what the position has to offer. Thinking outside of the box and delivering as promised is the lesson from Heineken.

    In Summary:

    The interview is the chance for both the candidate and the company to shine.

    It’s your company culture coming to life on campus and sets the tone for the overall candidate experience.

    Training your campus interview team is an important step in order to have the best representation of your company to potential candidates. As much as the company wants a specific candidate who best fits the role, the candidate also wants a company that best fits their employment goals and who provides the best value match.

    What has been your best campus interview experience? Comment below!

    Grace Lanuza
    Grace’s 10+ years in the ever-changing world of experiential marketing taught her the importance of having the right team in the right roles. Expanding her passion for people, Grace recently grew her career in the talent acquisition and employment branding space managing campus recruiting across North America for Mosaic, a top marketing agency. You can expect Grace’s unique voice to be found blogging about Gen Y hiring, motivating your team, interviewing tips and tricks, and best practices to keep remote employees engaged.

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    • Jenna Wilson

      This blog post just got me so fired up for our fall campus recruitment season! Thanks for the tips–I think more than ever companies are being pushed to think outside of the box since organizations like Heineken are raising the bar with their overall brand experience when interviewing candidates.
      I love the idea of getting internal stakeholders out on campus to meet with candidates alongside the recruitment team so there is a diverse representation of the company’s culture & management team.
      Time to start planning!
      -Jenna Wilson
      Mosaic

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