Make Them Feel Like They Belong in Your Innovation Department

A version of this article originally appeared on LinkedIn’s Pulse section. If we’re not already connected on LinkedIn, and you’d like to be, please reach out to me there.


People apply for jobs based on what they see on paper but people accept jobs based on what they experience in the interview. Just as you’re interviewing a person for the job, they are interviewing you – trying to figure out if they can work for/with you, get along with the other team members, and adjust to the culture of your tech transfer or innovation department. They will make all these decisions based on only a few hours of time with you.

You want them to make a good decision almost as much as you want to make a good one. It does you no good to be enamored of a candidate, only to find they have little interest in you because of something they perceived in the interview process. As a recruiter, if they shared it with us, we’ll tell you but often it’s such a nebulous feeling that it’s difficult to explain and they don’t give us a reason. Most candidates are either excited to work with the team because they feel they’ve found their place, or they just don’t feel like they belong.


How to Establish a Sense of Belonging in the Innovation Department

We never want you to be a chameleon and adjust your intellectual property or innovation department to what you think the candidate is looking for, but you can do some things to help people feel more welcome. These things include:

Share Your Culture. Not the culture you want for the department, but the one you have now. Help the potential employee self-select in a place that will be a good fit. A little potential heartache up front will save you lots of it in the future.

Share of Yourself. You needn’t be stoic and no-nonsense in the interview unless that is how your department truly is. Share of yourself and your stories to help break the ice and assist the candidate in deciding whether you’re the kind of personality she wants to work with.

Make Introductions. Often employers don’t want to introduce candidates unless they know they’re the forerunner. Give every person you’re interviewing a chance to meet more than just you. Don’t pretend the other people you work with are invisible. It’s a good way for the candidate to develop a sense of belonging and it’s a way for you to gauge how they do meeting other people and making a first impression. As a technology transfer professional, they’ll be representing your organization and technology offerings so they better make a good one.

How do you make candidates feel welcome? Share your ideas below.

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