I would never have had the guts to propose this session but my client turned out to be much more brave and experimental than me, which is how I came to arrive at the doors of Aimia equipped with a video camera and a sense of trepidation.

Aimia’s talent acquisition and development director wanted to help their hiring managers explore the way they communicated with potential candidates – both online and in person – how they told the story of the role and the story of belonging to Aimia. In 6 hours we were going to introduce them to the principles of storytelling, unlock their natural story telling skills, explore the story of their roles, brainstorm the real questions their audience’s were interested in and pull this together to create a new way to talk about the roles and the culture, AND THEN we would give these (quite frankly rather shell-shocked) hiring managers a video camera and ask them to create an online recruitment film which would reflect this new approach.

For this film they had two options, either use the camera to tell a verbal story, or use the camera to capture visual images that would tell the story.

Two of the attendees particularly were gently resistant at the beginning when they were told that they would be creating videos later in the day. They clearly didn’t feel it was their bag. However fast-forward 4 hours and they were beginning to see how they could use this tool in a way that suited them. They chose to tell their story verbally. They were not comfortable talking direct to camera unprompted (not many people are) but they had no problems once we set up more of an informal interview environment for them. Part of the success of this was the way the questions were asked i.e. chatty and interested not ‘News At Ten’ solemn, and part of the success was the questions themselves; “Tell us about a typical day in your department”, “What do you think is particularly exciting about this role”, “Has working at Aimia made a difference to your life-work balance?”, “What sort of person do you think would suit this role?”. These questions allowed the hiring managers to tell the story of the role and the culture rather than fall into the bullet-point trap. They were happy that they had been able to stay true to the facts of the role (important) but had been able to build a much more 360 picture to potential hires of what their life might be like in this role.

View from Aimia’s offices: showing the story

Meanwhile the HR attendees had taken my second suggestion, which was to find images which told the story of the Aimia experience and culture. They started by taking a stunning view of the Thames from their offices! Then once they were there they decided to get one of the team to describe their experience of being interviewed at Aimia whilst walking down one of the corridors.

Telling the story and ‘showing’ the story

It helped that Emily was a natural on camera, but the energy of walking through the offices impressed us all when we watched it back– it was a full of genuine enthusiasm, and we could see if she had extended the tour to the kitchen, break-out areas and work spaces this would be a genius recruitment story. Emily was telling the story while showing the world that story inhabited. This film could go some way to answering one of the key questions that every potential hire has on their minds…

“Will I be happy working there?”

We all learned a lot by taking the plunge and the attendees were really impressed seeing each others’ work played back. The long-term take out from the sessions was that the hiring managers felt that creating a film for every role would be too much, but they were keen to look at creating some more generic ‘day-in-the-life’ of Aimia films for recruitment. They did feel however that they had learned a lot in terms of how to talk about the roles and the Aimia culture, in a more engaging and informative way.

So the moral of this story is – be brave, take the plunge, pick up a camera and experiment with how you could tell more interesting stories to your audience online and in person. Playback is your friend – not your foe!