3 Words That'll Help You Attract Top BioTech Talent

As a hiring manager, you might remember the “good old days” when the expectation for the interview was simply for the candidate to impress you. Well...times have changed.

Gone are the days when the candidate is the only one in the interview hot seat. The tables have turned. While compensation and pipeline play a significant role in a candidate's decision to accept an offer, company culture and employer brand are increasingly key factors in their decision-making process.

The candidate’s experience of the employer brand through a positive interview process is critical because the right hire can make the difference between an exceptional product launch vs. a significant loss of revenue from failed execution. In other words, the pressure to hire top talent is real.

So how do you meet the increasingly difficult task of attracting the right talent and getting them to sign on the dotted line? “Control the controllables” (oh yes those words that you said to your team are coming right back at ya). In the hiring process, that would be Y-O-U and how you influence the candidate’s experience.

People buy from those they “know, like, and trust.” Use that adage right there as your guide.

1. Know:

When a candidate sits across from you, it’s likely not the first time they’re meeting you. They’ve already visited and scoped you out on LinkedIn--company and/or personal pages--so they could get a feel for the organization; as well as who you are, where you’ve been, and where there may be common ground. 

Can you imagine if you have a sloppy profile, no picture, or a weak headline? 

What does that say about you--and more importantly, your employer brand?

Your LinkedIn profile is your opportunity to present the best possible version of yourself and your employer.

Tell me the truth: When is the last time you updated it with the purpose to attract top talent? (Pssst: I have a guide for that here). Use your profile to set the stage for an exceptional candidate experience.

Of course, LinkedIn is just the first step in getting to know each other: It’s kind of like the Google search before deciding to book a trip somewhere. When you meet the candidate face to face--you have a fresh opportunity to connect, and the best way to take advantage of the stage you've already set is to share your story.

Have you heard the expression: facts tell, but stories sell? Storytelling is one of the most powerful ways to get people to buy.

Share your story! Share how you got to this point in your career, and what you are all about. Don’t forget to share other team members' stories, particularly if they seem relevant to the candidate’s career journey (e.g., “Mike came from the same company!” “Janet also changed careers.” “Bill is from the Midwest, too!”) It makes the employer brand and the company they’ll be joining feel that much more relatable and authentic.

Using storytelling in the interview process will enhance both the candidate experience and employer brand and help attract the talent you want on your team.

2. Like:

You find a dream candidate, make an offer--and they turn you down. Sounds like the worst-case scenario, huh? Avoid this all-too-common negative situation by making the interview process likable. Give the candidates a positive experience. Here’s how:

Treat every candidate like a customer. Provide a fair, consistent, respectful, and--dare I say--pleasant interview process. Every candidate should walk away feeling great because the interview felt more like a conversation than an interrogation. Even if they don’t end up getting the job, their interview experience will turn them into a fan.

Perhaps the biggest key to a positive candidate experience is consistent communication. Because lack thereof is the (easily-avoidable!) top candidate complaint during the interview process. Ensure consistent communication whether it’s delivered from you, HR, or external partners.

Make sure everyone is aligned with this goal. For example, if you are working with external partners (i.e. recruiters), make sure they are communicating appropriately with candidates, and don’t leave anyone hanging. 

No matter what, leave the “ghosting” for Halloween: Never ever ignore a candidate completely. That’s the fastest way to make sure someone feels bad enough that they’ll never apply again--and they’ll warn their friends about you as well!

A candidate wants to know where they stand in the hiring process. If they are out of the running, try to provide some feedback. If they are moving forward, communicate a timeline. The best hiring managers will always close the loop with a candidate directly. Remember, you are the employer brand and you control how you communicate.

3. Trust:

Trust is arguably the most critical component. According to the Kellog School of Managment at Northwestern University trust can be broken down into three components: competence, honesty, and benevolence. Whether you believe trust is earned or trust is a choice, building trust quickly in the interview process is foundational to a positive employer brand and candidate experience.

Research suggests that both “honesty and benevolence contribute to a general sense of 'warmth'. And warmth, it turns out, is something we are hardwired to judge very quickly—within 100 milliseconds.” 

At the start of an interview, greet every candidate with a genuinely warm smile.

Take an interest in them as a human being sitting across the table--as opposed to approaching them as someone whom you want to dissect, analyze, and critique. Find some common ground.

During the interview share your honest experience with the company--including the items that aren’t picture-perfect--with the goal of problem-solving together. Share what you view as any upcoming challenges. A candidate will appreciate your “transparency” (yes, this word is overused, but in this case it’s true!) and all of this will go a long way in establishing trust.

It goes without saying that you don’t want to scare them away. So, again, aim to lay out a few obstacles in a constructive way, with the goal being that they can see where they’ll be able to add value.

You know that people are one of your greatest assets--that’s why you’re investing so much time in this hiring process. However, don’t overlook the people your company has already hired, namely everyone involved in talent acquisition and you. Put your best foot forward and the candidate will be that much more excited about doing the same.


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