A November column in Fortune entitled “5 Reasons People Don’t Get Hired” struck a strong chord with me.  The author, Anne Fisher, lists five good reasons why candidates are being overlooked in an economy that’s steadily improving.

  • They don’t stand out from their competitors
  • They don’t effectively link their experience to the opportunity
  • They aren’t sufficiently interested and excited about the opening
  • They focus more on their own needs and not the needs of the interviewer/employer
  • They’re insufficiently prepared

She’s absolutely correct.  Every one of those flaws inhibits your ability to distinguish yourself.

As someone who’s been in executive recruiting for over 15 years, I’ve seen hiring cycles ebb and flow.  Currently, the flow is clearly on the candidates’ side as companies seek to recharge a talent base whittled down by the recession.  They are simultaneously pursuing quantity and quality.  Yet despite this competitive need, many have not adjusted their hiring practices to fit the new economic reality.

If you’re seeking talent for your organization, don’t fall into this trap.  Here are my top five tips to help you hire the best candidates for your company:

  1. Be prepared.  Employ deep research and substantive interview prep to both impress candidates and achieve your hiring objectives.
  2. Remember that you’re being interviewed by candidates every bit as much as they’re being interviewed by you. In today’s economy, talented candidates often entertain multiple offers.  How employers navigate an interview is often an important deciding variable for a candidate.
  3. Manage your reputation.  Both in the office and throughout social media highly skilled candidates will quickly discern your strengths and weaknesses.  A miserable review on a site like GlassDoor can seriously damage your ability to attract top talent.
  4. Compliment your people.  It’s often part of every vision and mission statement but all too often, we’re quick to criticize and slow to compliment.  Change that dynamic.
  5. Sell the sizzle.  Be a dynamic representative (indeed, a marketer) for your company throughout the hiring process.  Capable candidates will take notice.

It’s just as important for candidates to do the little things well.  The following are my top five tips to help prospective candidates find the best career opportunities possible:

  1. Do your homework.  You can’t wing a great interview.  Carefully review the job description and thoroughly research the company and the interviewer.
  2. Get help.  There are a plethora of articles and tips for great interviewing.  Pay attention to the trends they highlight and stay committed to excellence.  Recruiters can also help immensely with interview prep.  If you’re using one, enlist their assistance.
  3. Be prepared but be yourself.  Be real and be personable.  Authenticity can be refreshingly distinctive
  4. Be professional.  After all, this is a job interview not a coffee shop catch-up conversation.  Be on time and present yourself as someone who’s used to dealing with people at their level.
  5. Be passionate.  Enthusiasm and zest for achievement are powerfully positive signals to employers.  You also need to show a genuine interest in the company, product/service, and position for which you are interviewing.

Whether you’re an employer or a candidate, remembering the basics can have a positive impact on the hiring journey.

 I’m interested in what you think works or doesn’t work in your interview experiences as well.  Please feel free to share your experiences below.