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The Way They Start Affects How Long They Stay

You make only one first impression. That’s true for individuals—and it’s true for businesses. How people experience your company starts before they are applicants or candidates and ends long after they’ve left your organization. Having an exceptional recruitment process that both engages and represents you authentically is essential in winning and keeping top talent—and in our current tight job market it’s probably time to up your game.

It’s impossible to know in advance where people will jump into your recruitment orbit, or how long they’ll be there. They may have heard of you in the marketplace and begun their job search by going directly to your website. They may have been referred to you by a friend or a current employee. Or they may have searched Glassdoor for job opportunities and seen comments, either positive or negative, that will determine whether they check you out any further.

Because you have little control over the sequence of events people experience with you, you must ensure that every touchpoint is stellar. First impressions may occur at any point and are critical for several reasons. They help determine how people judge subsequent information, meaning that you either benefit from a halo effect that drives positive perceptions; or a negative impression that can never be rectified. Positive or negative, those first impressions will likely find their way into the marketplace through word of mouth or social media and color your reputation accordingly.

How To Be A Recruiting Standout

First impressions matter, but they must be backed up with substance and authenticity. Time to hire has increased significantly over the past few years. This means candidates have more time to research your company and apply to numerous others. You need to go beyond top-of-funnel activities like a career site, a Glassdoor profile, paid ads, and press releases. Substance and authenticity apply equally to what your employees experience. They have many opportunities to look for other employment. Although every piece of your people puzzle makes an impression, following are some suggestions about how to maximize your impact in three key areas: your culture and brand, interview processes, and website.

Culture & Employer Brand

The most important question prospective employees have is, “What’s in it for me?” Your employer brand (marketplace reputation) and presentation of your culture are the best sources for answers. Because your brand usually forms the initial perception of your company, it’s important that you maintain control of it by tracking what’s being said both online and off. A positive brand is a powerful force in either attracting, or repelling, top talent.

Your brand message should include a description of what it’s like to work in your culture: What are your values and goals and what’s your purpose? What perks and amenities do you offer? How important is teamwork? How flexible is your workplace? What’s your leadership philosophy? Your challenge is to authentically live your culture and be true to your brand.

Interviewing Processes

Whether hiring from the outside or promoting from within, one of the most important ways for your company and candidate to evaluate both fit and required skills is through interviews. Collaborative team interviewing provides a behind-the-scenes feel for the team and a realistic picture of the particular job. Be upfront about every aspect of the work to ensure you choose the best person for the role and team.

Interview questions can inform your recruiting, retention and employee engagement processes when you follow up by asking things like: How did you first learn about our company? Why did you apply? What were the deciding factors that made you accept our offer; or what do you like best about working here?

You can gather important additional information by regularly conducting stay interviews. In a stay interview, you ask current employees what they like about working for you and why they continue to work for you. These interviews build trust, increase engagement, make employees feel valued, and increase retention. They are an opportunity to better understand employees’ needs, thoughts, and feelings. Stay interviews are preferable to exit interviews because they provide information you can more easily act on. But don’t eliminate exit interviews, which can also provide important information about your policies and practices.


Your website should provide every bit of information people might want to know about your organization and what it’s like to work there. It should include your values, purpose, and future plans for your business as well as information about leadership and culture specifics. Explain the value you place on individual contributions and help people envision how they might fit into the whole. Describe your products or services and the kinds of customers you serve and how you serve them. Showcase representative employees and leadership through bios and videos. Explain it all in a way that represents who you are in a true, but interesting way. Save your company and prospective candidates time and effort by giving them all the insight they need to determine whether they might want to work for you.

Top talent looks for organizations that inspire, value, and support them from the moment they connect with you until some future time when they are working elsewhere—and refer your next talented employee.

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