This blog is translated from German with DeepL.
At Gimelli Engineering AG, we take an avant-garde approach to things in many respects. Not in order to be “forcibly” different, but because we have found that with new approaches not only the perspectives shift, but also the results. And most of the time in a positive sense.
We wanted to take such a “different” approach to often well-worn processes with the upcoming recruiting of new employees.
The standard procedure as we practiced it for decades and you might know it well:
- The position is advertised.
- Applications are received and sifted through for the most suitable profiles.
- The most interesting applicants are invited for an interview.
- Ideally, one or more top favorites emerge from the interviews.
- The shortlist is invited back for another interview and final details are discussed and clarified – if there is only one applicant left in this round, the matter is clear anyway.
- The applicant for whom the company has decided is called in one last time to sign the contract, the remaining applicants receive a standard rejection.
But in the end, do you know if the candidate is a good fit for the team and how good the expertise he promised in the interview really is? In the end, you risk getting a pig in a poke and often realize only after medium-term cooperation that the professional skills do not show even after intensive training or that the person does not fit into the team on a human level. Or even worse, the employee realizes after a year that the open-plan office or the versatility of an SME are not right after all and quits – all the time invested becomes a bad investment.
So much for the usual path. But there are other ways. We have opted for an applicant day:
- The position is advertised on our homepage, otherwise we conduct an active job search. This means that we specifically visit platforms and search for the specific criteria that we are interested in. This has the advantage that we only take a closer look at those dossiers that match our search criteria.
- Suitable candidates are contacted by telephone. In this way, personal contact is established at a very early stage and open points in the short CV can be clarified directly. If the profile remains exciting, candidates may send their complete dossier.
- The most interesting applicants, i.e. those whose applicant profile appears to be the most suitable, are invited by the management to the applicant day.
- These applicants, usually 4-5 people, have one day to…
… to work together as a team on a customer project.
…to get to know the company: to experience structures, processes and the team personally and in practice.
…to prove their knowledge, skills, experience and ability to work in a team.
…to get to know their future colleagues during the breaks.
- The company itself has one day to…
…to find out the skills of the applicants, their personality and the way they work, their ability to work in a team and the indefinable “interpersonal”.
…to clarify details: Expected entry into the company, role level, employment level, etc.
- Who succeeds in putting the applicant process in the background and putting the customer focus in the center of their work? For us, it’s not the best individual solution that decides, but the most practical one from the customer’s point of view. It quickly becomes clear who can sell themselves well, but perhaps not deliver such good quality, or vice versa. In our experience, it happens time and again that the applicant group prefers variants of weaker products and rejects top performance.
So that everyone can go home with a good feeling, there is a presentation and a feedback round in both directions at the end of the day. It is always important to us that candidates give themselves one or two days after the day to let us know whether they would like to work for us or not. In addition to the “hard facts”, it is enormously important to let the candidates think it over, sleep on it, and listen to their gut feelings. After all, we are aiming for a long-term cooperation and important decisions should not be made in stressful situations.
Finally, we evaluate the day for ourselves, make internal suggestions for improvement for next time and after receiving the decisions of the applicants, we make our choice relatively quickly afterwards. The candidate of our choice is invited once again to sign the contract. The remaining candidates receive a verbal, personal rejection. After all, we have already met as equals, are on a first-name basis and have spent an exciting and intensive day together. It is therefore just as important to cancel the remaining participants in an appreciative manner.
But what distinguishes this application day from a classic assessment? – A lot! Because the applicants don’t work through the same boring test at the same time or one after the other. They work together on a customer project and must be able to collaborate and find joint solutions. In the end, it is not the individual part of the project that counts, but the jointly created customer benefit, the “individual contribution to the big picture”. Thus, our applicants must be able to do one thing above all: cooperate. In other words, they must put their own interests in being the best for the job in the background and work together as a team. The solution from the team must then be implemented independently on the CAD. We spare no effort and provide each applicant, if possible, with his or her favorite CAD. There is also always at least one project manager involved in this applicant day and there is an embedded creative part.
What is also close to our hearts is a common Znüni and Z’mittag with the candidates and our team. This gives our “regular employees” the opportunity to have small talks and get to know the potential new team members better. Also, in case we have several comparable candidates who are in the final selection after the candidate day, ultimately the vote of the team will also help decide which new face will soon be co-managing our revenue.
That’s the theory, which, by the way, works very well. But how do applicants themselves view this experience? In a conversation with an applicant, or meanwhile successfully hired employee, we found out what the impression on the part of the candidates actually is. The first reaction was “They’re crazy!”. But then the colleague thought about it and came to the conclusion that it was actually very exciting, because this kind of application is not on a theoretical but on a practical level. The applicant himself has a much better opportunity to find out how the company works, what the requirements are, how good or bad the level of the organization, the hierarchy is, how the team works and what the people are like. The applicant can also prove himself in real time, so to speak. Overall, he found this day an exciting experience and quite positive – because he got the job.
The other applicants invested one day and came away empty-handed. Perhaps one or the other applicant also felt too much pressure in direct comparison with competitors or in getting to grips with a project in the shortest possible time. And in a foreign environment with an unfamiliar infrastructure. But what do applicants say who didn’t get the job and how did they remember that day? We took a chance and asked:
I would like to thank you for allowing me to participate in the innovation workshop. It was an educational day for me. The organized project day for the open position of the company Gimelli Engineering AG did not miss anything. All the best for the future, to all of you!
Thank you very much for the great job application day and for the great organization. I was very pleased and really had a lot of fun. I am sorry that I was not very communicative on the phone, of course I was disappointed that I could not convince you.
Maybe it’s a bit of “Gimelli looking for the superstar.” There is some truth to all the “pros and cons” and we don’t claim to have found the universal key to the perfect recruiting model. But: we have now repeatedly succeeded in finding our top candidate from a large pool of applicants. Whether this approach has overall advantages over the standard method? You will have to find out for yourself. We are convinced that it is a promising method for long-term cooperation.