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To Hire Well, You Have to Sell, Too 

Ask The Expert

By Barbara Mitchell

Q: I know that part of the hiring process is selling the applicant on the opportunity. How do I do that without overpromising or underselling?

A: Glad you asked! Too many managers forget that this is part of the hiring process. Many think, “Why should I sell the opportunity? Anyone would be glad to work here!” But the best candidates have options, so you need to make sure they know why your organization is a great place to work where they can make a contribution.

You’re not only selling your organization; you’re also selling the job, and if the position reports to you, you’re selling yourself as candidate’s potential manager. To do this, you need to be able to articulate your organization’s mission, vision, and values. This is how you get applicants excited about working for your organization—by letting them see your passion for the work you do. While you’re sharing this information, explain where the job they are interviewing for fits in the organization and how the position contributes to your organization’s success. This is what applicants are looking for—a place to make a difference.

It’s a great idea to tell your own story—why you chose to work at your organization and why you choose to stay. This will let the applicant know more about you and your own personal values. This is a powerful message to send to candidates.

This is how you get applicants excited about working for your organization—by letting them see your passion for the work you do.

Share as much detail about your organization as you can, and be honest about any challenges it faces. For example, if membership is declining and revenues are down, tell the truth about those challenges but also share the plans you have for righting the ship. Most applicants will appreciate your candor.

Have a packet of information ready for each candidate that includes a selection of your organization’s marketing materials, benefits information, and a job description. Applicants appreciate this kind of takeaway that they can review with a spouse or someone else who may be supporting them in their job search.

So, don’t oversell the opportunity—you never want a new hire to come back to you after a few months on the job, and say, “This isn’t what you told me I’d be doing!”—but use the interview to explain what makes your organization a great place to work. If you do this well, it will pay off when you make an offer to the right candidate.

Barbara Mitchell is a human resources and management consultant and author of The Big Book of HR. Do you have a question you’d like her to answer in “Ask the Expert”? Send it to [email protected].