It could be time to throw out the classic hiring script, where a hopeful candidate is grilled in an interview before being handed a contract to sign.

A Kiwi fintech is taking to the tramping trail, the basketball court, or even the kitchen to lighten up the recruitment process and see what their successful candidate is made of.

Dean Curtis, chief people officer at PowerFinance, says the company does a robust screening process to ensure the candidate has the right technical skills, but that’s only one piece of the puzzle.

“The bit that we put more weight on is who they are as people and how they’re going to contribute to the environment we’ve got here,” he says.

During the interview process, the company subtly gleans how the candidate likes to spend their spare time.

Once the company has made up its mind on who is the best fit for the job out of the applicants, that candidate is asked if they’d like to organise an activity aligned with their hobby to do with senior management.

So far, the team has been on a hiking trip to Rangitoto Island, jumped into the kitchen for a cooking class, and even shot some hoops at a community basketball court.

While it’s supposed to be a bit of fun, the company is also taking notes on skills the candidate displays, such as leadership potential and project management capability.

At this point, however, the hiring team is certain they want to hire the candidate and once the session is wrapped up, the offer is formally made.

In the competitive labour market, Frog Recruitment managing director Shannon Barlow says anything that an employer can do to stand out is a good thing.

There’s a big emphasis on pay packets, especially as inflation creeps up to 7.3 percent and beyond, but Barlow says not all organisations are able to offer the big bucks. This means leaders should think creatively about how they can get an edge.

“Companies can stand out in other ways and show that they’re looking at the candidate as more than just a number, while the candidate can also get a feel for what it’s going to be like to work there and have a bit of fun while doing it as well,” she says.

PowerFinance’s approach is a good way to get to know a candidate, but Curtis says the strategy does require the luxury of time. In a more pressured labour market, often the company has to move quickly to lock in a new employee and it doesn’t have time to scheme up an activity.

It’s a new strategy for the business, however Curtis believes it’s working so far. 

“It was focused on how we can make sure we get the right people, as that’s important for retention,” he says.

“It’s a lot of pressure for an employer to hire somebody and hope that they stick around. So it’s our job to be as open as possible and share what we’re like.”

At the same time, the candidate gets an idea of whether they would enjoy working at the company. If they decide to take the job offer, it also softens the transition period for the newbie.

“When they hit day one, they’ve already met a handful of people and there’s a bit of hype. We’ve already shared the story of how they came to be part of the team across the business,” he says.

“People start settling in and getting into their jobs quickly, which usually can take a bit of time. We’ve sped up the process by doing a simple thing – just letting people be themselves.”

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