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In the highly competitive hunt for leading Procurement talent, a well-defined, impactful brand goes a long way. Many organizations are already devoting considerable time and resources to refining their corporate websites and constructing a social media presence. They hope these will reflect their brand and entice promising job seekers. Some organizations, however, don't seem to recognize how their reputation and brand identity come through in the interview process.

Restructuring this process to strengthen your employer brand can provide a distinct competitive advantage. Here are a few tips for getting started.

1. Revamp Your Careers Page
Just about every organization has a Careers page on their website. Some have even got standalone websites dedicated to advertising open positions. Surprisingly, very few organizations use these an opportunity to spotlight their brand, communicate their mission, or outline their particular values. The voice, content, and design of Careers pages can accomplish all of these. For example, Procurement organizations might consider using these pages to highlight top performers. This will offer prospective applicants some insight into what qualities your organization values in an employee and give them some sense of what their day-to-day experience and career path might look like.

More and more, company websites and review sites like Glassdoor are playing a role in how candidates assess potential employers. According to the MRINetwork's 2018 Reputation Management Study, the top methods candidates leverage to assess an organization's brand are as follows: Employee referrals (59%), company website (56%), Glassdoor (38%), employee testimonials (28%). Clearly, the way an organization frames itself digitally can (and will) sway an applicant's opinion.

"Your employer and external brands need to be closely aligned in order to present your organization consistently and effectively," writes Vince Webb, VP of Marketing for MRINetwork. He continues, "If there is a disconnect between how you present yourself to the outside world, and how your employees view the company, your brand will suffer from a confusing message that fails to attract top candidates."

2. Use Technology to Improve Scheduling and Follow-Up
A complicated interview schedule and slow response times can lead applicant's to develop a negative perception of your organization. Companies have taken note. Many are already leveraging new tools to speed up their processes and make interview scheduling simpler.

PWC, for example, has started using an online platform that enables clients to self-schedule their interviews. Before introducing this solution, the company typically took six days to schedule an interview. They've successful brought that average down to a single day.

Streamlined interview processes that keep candidates in the loop creates a more positive applicant experience. This, in turn, contributes to more positive overall employer brand. The Reputation Management Study found that nearly half of candidates consider poor communication during the interview process a major turnoff. "The details of the interview coordination and process reveal volumes about operating priorities and corporate values," observed one respondent. Top candidates want a hiring experience that's both high-tech and personal. If they feel they're being blown off or forced to jump through unnecessary, they're likely to look elsewhere.

3. Introduce New Interview Questions
Ditch the old stand-by questions. Interviews are conversations and they provide the perfect opportunity to share insights regarding your organization's unique culture. Tailor you questions in such a way that they require critical thinking and relate your company's mission, values, and objectives. This'll provide a better sense of how they'll fit in in a new role. If collaboration is important to your company, for example, you might consider asking them if they prefer working in groups to working independently.

It's also essential that everyone involved in the interview process is on the same page. They should each possess the same understanding of what the position will require. 36% of Reputation Management Study respondents named "discrepancies among interviewers about job duties" their second biggest interview turnoff. "Consistency is critical," remarked one individual. "The messages that are portrayed during the interview process are such an important piece of the selection process that we've hired an HR manager to focus on that aspect in our hiring processes."

The interviewing team should discuss the job requirements in detail before they begin searching for candidates. This will ensure that candidates are relevant questions, interviewers have a clearer picture of what they're looking for, and - ultimately - the right person gets the job.

4. Create a Positive Interview Environment
Make sure interviewees are entering an environment that points to positive work culture. Preparation is key. Review the candidate's resume beforehand, draft pertinent questions, and start the interview on time. Leave yourself enough time to ensure the process never feels rushed. The candidate will feel valued, and you'll have time to cover everything important during the conversation.

Building a positive environment also means selling candidates on what exactly makes your organization a great place to work. Applicants are clear about the factors that influence their perception of an organization's brand and workplace culture. MRINetwork's Study found that work-life balance and advancement opportunities were particularly crucial.

"Companies that offer flexible work arrangement and career pathing programs create an employee-centric vibe where staff feel they are a top priority," remarks Anne Hayden, VP of HR for MRINetwork. "Promoting these types of offerings to candidates is just one more thing your team can do to leave a lasting impression during interviews."

The interview process is a valuable opportunity to present a unified brand identify. Procurement groups that fail to recognize the importance of their brand and its maintenance are likely to miss out on the best talent. Companies with great employer branding, on the other hand, should have no trouble attracting and retaining the next generation of supply chain leaders.
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