Employer brand, a company’s reputation as an employer and its value proposition to employees, is critical to attracting an ongoing flow of candidates. In the 90s, when employer branding first started gaining attention, it was something that came from the top down. Today, because of social media and review sites like Glassdoor, employees have a big influence on a company’s brand. Potential candidates can learn a great deal about a company’s culture by assessing its employer brand before, during and after the interview process.

The following interview tips can help you evaluate an organization’s employer brand and determine whether the company has a culture in which you would thrive:

Do your research. Is the company aligned with your values and what you believe in? Do you see evidence that you will have the opportunity to apply your skills? Many companies, such as PricewaterhouseCoopers, now highlight their employees on their website’s career pages. Investigating these will give you insight into how people feel about the company and how their careers have progressed. Check out “great workplace” lists too; Gallup has found that 80 percent of U.S. adults who are open to a new job or who are actively seeking a job say they are more likely to apply to a company that has won a great workplace award.

Assess your experience as a candidate before the interview. You should expect an efficient, streamlined interview process, preferably one that uses technology to eliminate complicated application requirements, reduces the length of time to schedule an interview, and keeps you in the loop on the status of your application. According to the 2018 MRINetwork Reputation Management Study, almost half of candidates (47 percent) feel lack of communication during the interview process is one of the biggest turnoffs. You can learn volumes about operating priorities and corporate values from what the interview coordination process reveals. Look for a process that is high-tech, but also high-touch and personal. If you’re left hanging in limbo, your best recourse in today’s candidate-tight market is probably to move on.

Assess your experience during the interview. If the questions you’re asked are of the cookie-cutter variety, you’re not going to get much insight into the company’s culture. Revealing questions require critical thinking and relate to the company’s mission and values. These not only help the employer determine whether you’re a good fit for the position, but also whether the job matches up with your professional goals and expectations. Determine if everyone involved in the interview process has the same understanding of the position’s requirements. Questions should reflect critical job competencies and give a clear picture of the skills you need to be successful in the job. At this point you should be aware of areas that are not completely aligned and consider whether you are willing to compromise and if you are motivated to proceed further in the hiring process.

Assess your experience after the interview. You should come away from the interview with a clear understanding of what’s expected of the role. Any questions that you asked should also have been answered to your satisfaction. You should be informed of the next steps involved in hiring and when you can expect to be contacted. Based on your experience, ask yourself if you would recommend this organization to others, whether or not you get the job – or accept it if it offered to you.

As a job seeker you know what your unique skills and talents are, you recognize what you care most about, and you understand what differentiates you from others. You want a job that’s a good fit for you and that aligns with your values. Using the interview process as a reflection of a company’s employer brand can help you focus on where you want to go, determining if this position will help you get there and if this is the right organization in which to make your next career step.

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