Interview and Select Service-Oriented individuals

The culture of tomorrow, begins with the people you hire today. The hiring process gives clues to potential employees as to what your culture is like and who you hire will be a reflection of how your employees ultimately treat your customers. Looking through the lens of the job applicant, HR has several opportunities to strongly let the applicant know that delivering exceptional customer service is a critical part of the job position.

There are three areas where you can significantly impact the message the job seeker receives:  the job posting, the pre and post interview, and the interview itself.  It starts in the recruitment efforts by how you word the job posting and advertise the open position. In addition to the technical competencies required by the job, add in words like “smiling, friendly, helpful, likes people, pursues excellence, team player, etc.” Consciously or subconsciously, the applicant will be taking note of these traits and they will either be attracted to the job and the perceived surrounding traits and behaviors of others or they will not.

The opportunity in the pre-interview step is to reinforce the message from the job posting. If it is a phone interview, are there efforts to make it at a convenient time for the applicant? Are the systems accurately set up if the applicant is to take a verbal or written test prior to the interview? There is nothing more frustrating to an applicant when the links to the website or testing site don’t consistently work.

Then, there is the interview itself. Is the interview site easy to find? When the job candidate arrives are they welcomed and invited to an area that is comfortable for waiting? Everything is speaking. While the candidate is waiting they are looking around. What do they see, hear, smell, and touch? Do these elements reinforce the message you are wanting your culture to send or not? Does someone come greet the candidate and walk them back to the interviewer? This is a good time to lessen the stress on the candidate with a little social conversation. Remember, looking through their lens, they are probably nervous or anxious and the more you can acknowledge their emotions and help them relax, the better they will be able to do in the actual interview.

Asking customer service scenario based questions blended with those designed to determine their job capabilities shows the importance of customer service in how they will be expected to do their job. By asking scenario based questions, you will have a better idea of their perceptions as to what is excellent service and what is not. You will also find out more about the candidate in hearing their examples of how and when they delivered excellent service vs. just asking the question: Are you customer service- oriented?

Finally, the post interview is also a potential opportunity to make an impression on the candidate regarding your culture. Do you let the individual know the hiring process and how long it might take and how they will be communicated with as follow up? Do you send a thank you letter or email to the candidate that has taken their time to come in for a face-to-face interview but doesn’t get the job? While it is your prerogative to hire that individual, it is also the candidate’s prerogative to turn down the job offer and so no matter which way it goes, you still want that candidate to think well of you and your company. They will inevitably tell others as to how they were treated in the interview process and this becomes a part of your image and reputation as a company.

HR plays a crucial role in the interviewing and selection of individuals. The more this process can be planned, managed, and orchestrated to exhibit service excellence, the more you will be able to hire those qualified candidates that want to become a part of your culture.

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