Why Recruiting Should be Just as Much About Candidates Interviewing You About Your Business

By Guest blogger - May. 11, 2014
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Why recruiting should be just as much about candidates interviewing you about your business.Editors Note: This is a guest post written by Alon Tamir – Founder & Director at Studio Proper. His opinions are his own.

Recruiting is one of the greatest challenges faced by most businesses, be it a startup or a thousand-strong team. More than a challenge, it’s also the greatest opportunity a business has to shape its destiny.

Assemble a killer team of designers, coders, ninjas or accountants and your path to success becomes accelerated.  Struggle, and you’re far more likely to fail and burn out before the business reaches its full potential.

Like many of the meaningful opportunities in business, recruitment can also be complex and so easy to get wrong.

Break the traditional recruitment paradigm

Finding the near perfect balance of skills, salary match, experience and cultural fit within one candidate for one position and at the right time is no easy task. These challenges are heightened within a startup that is typically both time and cash poor, yet desperately in need of the right talent to reach and surpass their tipping point towards business sustainability.

That is, if you expect all of that on day one, and are stuck in the traditional recruitment paradigm.

You see while the above may be hard to find as described, it’s much easier to find a combination of a few of these requirements, with the potential for all of the others to follow with cultivation.

We attracted a world-class team very early in our progression, and have done it by framing our approach to recruiting differently to many of those around us.

What’s in it for them?

Effective recruiting should be about questioning whether you are able to deliver value to each prospective candidate.

For the most part, we expect candidates to frame the nature of the interview with very little direction along the way.  In doing so we create an environment that more easily places the candidates’ wants and needs at the centre of the discussion.

We try to plant as few ‘seeds’ as possible, allowing them to express themselves with minimal external influence or framing, which further encourages a very natural, unrehearsed flow of discussion.

Let the candidate frame the discussion

Learning what drives a candidate, what their goals are, and what makes them ‘tick’ by watching and listening to the way they frame the discussion delivers high value data upon which the potential for a ‘fit’ becomes very clear.  The data also bubbles to the surface far sooner in the process than it otherwise would. There’s also plenty to be gained by observing the way in which a candidate rises to the challenge of ‘running the show’ when perhaps they hadn’t anticipated doing so.

In stark contrast to the above, the traditional recruitment and interview process places the business and candidate on opposite sides of the table both literally and figuratively.

The process then becomes akin to a highly rehearsed game of chess.  A tactical arrangement of answers to questions. A game of strategy to find the answer/question formula that will deliver the candidate most successfully to the ‘next round’.  This encourages engineering of those answers as opposed to honesty and openness, adding unnecessary barriers instead of removing them.

Make the position fit the candidate’s lifestyle. Go on. Try it!

We also work very hard to make the position fit a candidate’s lifestyle whilst clearly communicating KPIs that will need to be met.

Want to work from home on occasion? Great. Want to work 3 days a week? Fantastic.  Want to work from our studio while exploring freelance opportunities? Be our guest.  Want to present your Uni assignment to the team for critique? We applaud the dedication and will gladly dust off the projector.

The net result is an environment that becomes mutual in the exchange of values.  A truly level playing field with a comfortable free flow of communication.  A true partnership and symbiosis where there’s freedom to discuss highly creative and often unexpected ways around solving problems.

Don’t miss out on the best candidates

I’d like to suggest that our team is living proof that this works.  I’m confident that we may well have easily missed some of the great people on our team had we stuck to the traditional, rigid recruitment process.

Ultimately, the above speaks to the nature of how we embed creativity and design into everything we do. From the products we design, to our business processes and the way we attract talent, it’s the creative design thinking that has delivered results and uncovered opportunities.

I once met with a highly successful entrepreneur who lamented, in the context of employees, that ‘Loyalty is dead’.

I couldn’t disagree more.

The old, traditional drivers of loyalty may well be dead, but if you can capture the new drivers, that of adding value, I’m pleased to report that loyalty is well and truly alive.

This crucial process should be implemented from the very first interview.


Alon Tamir is a product design entrepreneur who has successfully built Melbourne design studio Studio Proper producing a range of Apple device accessory brands enjoyed by Apple consumers in over 80 countries.


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