What is job speed dating?
The job is simple. Women and men, tall and short, queer and straight, binary and non-identifying, junior and senior, employed and unemployed---candidates of all shapes, sizes, creeds, and credentials meet 15-20 companies on a “speed date”.
This is a much more “analog” system of finding a job. Instead of using an online application system, filling in a pre-employment assessment, or using AI for recruiting, job speed dating is well, a different speed.
How does it work?
Usually organized by a third party, the event invites candidates and companies to take part in filling out in-demand roles. For example, the event could be focused on developers trying to land their next career move and companies specifically recruiting for developer roles. Depending on space and or other parameters, the number of invitees is limited.
Employers sit at tables while candidates move around, from table to table. Each conversation or interview averages only 5 minutes. It’s extremely quick, so both parties have to know what they’re looking for. Then, after a buzzer in the room rings, candidates move to the next table/employer.
Job speed dating is an interesting concept for organizations and candidates alike. It may be the fastest way for applicants and hiring managers to meet and make a great impression. Employers like Google and Twitter have been known to attend job speed dating events like these. It may be likely they and other organizations come to these events as applicants are often picked by event coordinators---it’s usually not simply a “sign up and show up” process. It’s still a tailored process.
But it’s the era of COVID. Can my organization put on a job speed dating event?
Yes, it’s still possible. Because of COVID people are much more comfortable to attend events online--giving you an advantage to reach applicants who may not reside in the same time zone as your company. With tools like Zoom and Zoom Rooms, participants can gather online and have these breakout sessions to spend 5 minutes to converse.
What do I need to know?
Make a Great First Impression
The research is clear. You have about 6 seconds to make a good first impression. As an employer, the person representing the company is likely to be a recruiter or hiring manager. It may even be the manager that is looking to fill a vacant team position. Either way, this person must be trained to be friendly, candid, and knowing exactly what they’re looking for. It should be clear to the candidate that they’re there to find the right fit and are excited about the opportunity to be there.
What to watch for:
Candidates that spend too much time complaining about their current situation or who are unclear in what they want. Applicants are often looking to change companies due to a poor fit. It may be their manager, culture, or even job. Look for candidates that may briefly mention as to why they’re interested in leaving their current role. However take caution with candidates who spend too much time emphasizing why they hate their job. It could be a sign of someone who isn’t focused on the future right now.
Interestingly, part of the candidate experience and pre-employment test process is that candidates often feel organizations don’t pay attention to them. You must avoid this at all costs---especially because this is a highly personable setup. Be interested in what candidates have to say. Practice active listening. Ask thoughtful questions and see how they react.
What to watch for:
Candidates who don’t seem to want to get to know more about the role or the company’s mission. They may remark that they’re happy with their current job and are just interested in seeing what’s out there. This could be a red flag. If they’re not interested in what you’re building or may seem glib in answering your thoughtful questions, this may be an example of poor fit.
Make a scoring system
This may take some prep time before the event, but you may want to create a shorthand rating system. Some event organizers give scorecards to assist you as you quickly rate a candidate before the next appears. However, in case you don’t receive one, create a small checklist to help you remember names and experiences. Think of the position itself. Does it need a certain kind of personality? Certain leadership qualifications? A certificate? Or maybe they just need to be someone that seems like a team leader? The list shouldn’t have to be extensive, as its only to serve as a reminder who you want to follow-up with after the event.
What to watch for:
Candidates that are taking this as seriously as you. Watch for applicants who jot down a few notes about you, your company, or the role itself. This reveals that they’re engaged in getting to know whether there’s a fit for this particular role.
Job speed dating moves like lightning. After 5 minutes, it’s a new person. Along with the scoring system and note taking, think of other ways for you to stand out to candidates. A candidate may leave a resume or a business card. Think of how you’ll stick out in a candidate’s memory. If they’re a good candidate, you may be competing with other job speed dating “suitors”. If you can gain an edge by giving out something useful like a USB drive with your company logo or writing down your WhatsApp number on your business card and giving that to a candidate you really like, then so be it. It’s about giving something to stand out.
What to watch for:
Look for candidates who are also thinking of leaving a good impression. A resume, business card, or link to their portfolio page are all examples of how an applicant can make themselves stand out long after the speed dating dust has settled.
Job speed dating is an interesting method for candidate search. Paired with online tools like Zoom, it’s completely possible to give it a try remotely. It could be a creative way to build out your talent pipeline. Job search, interviewing, and hiring and recruitment is different with the pandemic, but job speed dating is actually a fun way to find and recruit talent.
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