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How Companies Identify Talent with Anna Papalia & Kage Spatz

HR Strategy Series, Real Human Resources

Shift Profile Human Resources Hiring Strategies

First, your branding needs to be authentic. Second, you need to improve the candidate experience and third know what top talent wants. Fourth and most important, interview better!

As a part of my HR Strategy Series, I’m talking to top experts in the field to teach prospects what hiring managers are actually looking for, while also supporting business leaders in their hiring and retention strategies. Today I had the pleasure of talking with Anna Papalia.

Anna Papalia created Shift Profile, a personality assessment that teaches job seekers and hiring managers how to interview better. The former Director of Talent Acquisition and Career Coach founded Shift in 2011 to empower job seekers with self- awareness and teach hiring managers that the most important business decisions are made in interviews. Anna is also a personal development keynote speaker. Her inspiring talks teach empowerment and confidence through actionable tips and stories from her career on both sides of the interview table.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! First, please tell us what brought you to this specific career path?

My pleasure. I’ve been on my own since I was 15. By all accounts, I probably should’ve ended up as a high school dropout. I lived on my own, paid rent and put myself through high school and was determined to succeed despite all the obstacles. I studied psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and was accepted on the spot during my admissions interview, in part because I told the story of how I moved out and supported myself. At the time, I thought they made a mistake. I was just some kid from Maine who did what she had to do. But in hindsight, getting into Penn was a turning point for me. I waited tables for five years to finance my education. It was there that I met all my best friends and started taking an interest in organizational development. I was a senior server and I would complain to the managers when they were making bad hiring decisions because, as someone who trained the new employees, it affected me and the morale of the staff. So, one of the managers said, “Fine. You interview everyone.” And that’s when my interest in psychology and hiring intersected.

Thank you for sharing. What are the top techniques that you use to identify the talent that would be best suited for the job you want to fill?

The way to attract and retain top talent is to offer what top talent wants. Sounds intuitive, right? But it’s not. Here are 4 things you can do to attract and retain top talent during the recruitment and interview proves. First, your branding needs to be authentic. Second, you need to improve the candidate experience and third know what top talent wants. Fourth and most important, INTERVIEW BETTER!

1. The way to brand your organization shouldn’t be decided by what looks good on an ad. Your branding should come from something you already have, your mission, values and goals. If your CEO has a compelling story, tell it in interviews. If you are mission-based use that to recruit the right talent that believes in your mission. Connect the opportunities at your company to the candidate’s purpose. Make them feel as if they would be part of something bigger than themselves. Lots of research shows that modern employees want their places of work to be charitable and mission-oriented, how can you make that connection in your recruiting and marketing materials? (LinkedIn Global Recruiting Trends, 2017) Coaching tip- connect your messaging and your corporate values to what top talent wants.

2. Most companies are operating on an outdated model that they are in the position of power when it comes to recruiting top talent but according to Bureau of Labor & Statistics, there is a workforce shortage and there will continue to be. That means that top talent is going to run the show in the future. If you want to attract and retain top talent in your organization first and foremost you need to go through a fundamental paradigm Shift, repeat after me, “I am not in the position of power anymore, the candidates are.” With this shift, some significant changes need to be made, in the way you train recruiters, what you require of your applicants and your own expectations. Currently, recruiters aren’t accountable for how they treat applicants. I could tell you a hundred stories about applicants that are ghosted after months of interviewing. If your recruiters mismanage the relationship with candidates you are ruining your brand. Currently, there is no accountability for recruiters to ensure that they aren’t ghosting your applicants. Companies need to focus on the applicant experience and take into consideration the time it takes for a candidate to apply for a job. For example, don’t have applicants fill out a long employment application on your website before you interview them and please STOP with the recorded interviews. Coaching tip- Put yourself in the candidate’s shoes, the steps to apply for the job should not be time-consuming, tedious and awkward. Because the more you ask of a candidate before they ever meet with you, the less likely they are to go through with the process. Top talent doesn’t have time to do a recorded interview, a 45 mins application and an hour-long pre-employment test. (I am not saying you shouldn’t have your candidates do these things just don’t ask applicants to do it BEFORE you interview them.) Most important, you should offer candidates something for applying and going through your interview process. And I don’t mean a t-shirt with your company logo on it, no one wants that. I mean something valuable, my clients offer the results of their candidate’s Shift Profile. It’s a customized workbook that determines their interview style and provides tailored advice that will help them get a job in the future. By giving candidates something you are thanking them for their time, and buying yourself goodwill.

3. Top talent cares about opportunity and flexibility. If you don’t offer either those things it will be hard for you to compete in the future. Candidates will expect, unlimited PTO, generous work from home policies and executive mentorship programs. Coaching tip- Not only should you care about what attracts people to your firm and how they feel on their first day you should care about what they say in their exit interviews. Ask for feedback, take a survey and ask around. See what benefits your competitors are offering and match that.

4. I have interviewed and hired thousands of candidates and I have co-interviewed with hundreds of hiring managers. 90% of hiring managers were never trained to interview. They Google it, shadow someone or wing it. When it comes to hiring companies never think about how important the interview process is. Sure, HR may do the phone screen and provide some behavioral questions for you to ask but it’s not enough. The most important business decisions happen with interviews. Coaching tip- Elevate the interview process, give your hiring managers tools to interview better because the science on the bias is very clear the more ambiguous the process the more likely you are to make bad hires.

If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

To elevate the interview process! As the CEO my job is to lead the organization. As an HR consultant, my job is to provide custom made solutions for my clients. I do both of those things with one mission in mind, to teach clients to interview better. Leading with our mission in mind inspired me to develop a product that empowers clients and is accessible to anyone anywhere.

Our mission came from my experience on both sides of the table. As a Director of Talent, I co-interviewed with hundreds of hiring managers and wished there was a formalized language for the de-brief process. As a consultant, I prepared thousands of clients and knew that a lack of self-awareness was holding them back.

Over the last 2 years, I have made a difference to my firm in three ways.

First, I have always kept our mission front and center when making business decisions. A difference I made over the last two years was not just to lead with that mission internally, but to tell my personal story publicly about why interviewing matters so much to me.

My passion to teach interview skills is personal. I moved out at 15 to escape an abusive step-father, I worked hard to get myself out of a bad situation and managed to graduate high school. I applied to the University of Pennsylvania and in the admissions process was asked to come in for an interview. In the interview, I told them that I moved out at 15 and worked at a gas station and saved money because my only goal was to go to college. I was admitted on the spot. That interview changed my life.

I know from personal experience the power that interviews have. An interview can change your circumstances, open up doors, and propel you to the next level.

I want to empower people with interview skills so they too can change their lives the way I did. I want our product and our firm to offer the skills and tools that change people’s lives.

As a consultant, many of my services are expensive and exclusive, so the second difference I made was to make our product, the Shift Profile, accessible to anyone anywhere. In order to do that, I created a digital assessment that is affordable and easily accessed on our website.

Part of our mission is to bring our product and training services to as many people as possible and I can’t do that alone. So the third difference I have made to my firm was creating a team of contractors and subcontractors that are subject matter experts in all things HR. I rely on my team to produce specialized deliverables to clients, conduct coaching sessions and lead training sessions. This has allowed me to grow my business, it has given me time to attend national conferences such as SHRM Talent in Nashville, ATD’s national conference in D.C., and sponsor the Philly SHRM Symposium. It has given me the opportunity to meet more people, affect more lives, and grow into my new role as CEO.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” and how that was relevant to you in your life?

Not sure who said it, “The only way to escape a problem is to solve it” It’s my life motto.

Thank you so much for these fantastic insights!

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