You have gone through the tough process getting some great profiles/cv’s in front of your hiring managers. They are interested in some of them; in fact they like one so much, (from a direct competitor more than likely), that they are already talking about an offer before even talking to the person. It can be really tempting to push things through the system and get the person onboard as soon as possible. It means another one off the list, right? So, why is it essential that the interviewing process is carried out thoroughly and concisely?
The interview process is essential for both parties. For the company to learn more about the candidate and their abilities, and for the candidate to fully understand the role and its responsibilities. The employer can’t garner all of the details on a candidate from just looking at a CV and in turn a candidate cannot discover all of the roles and responsibilities from a job description.
Below are my tips on what’s important to cover in an interview, and what information needs to be acquired to make an informed hiring decision.
1) Start by Defining The Process
Setting out an interviewing process is the first point of call. Which key stakeholders need to be involved? How many interviews? Do any tests need to be carried out? The process really shouldn’t take too long, it’s important to be thorough, but processes with ten stages don’t help anyone involved! These kinds of processes often come down to managers wanting to “pass the buck” and spread the responsibility as much as possible!
2) First steps
My usual suggestion, after my initial telephone screening, is for a telephone screening with the hiring manager. Further calls may then be needed with other members of the team, or stakeholders that will be working closely with the role. After this one or two face to face meetings is normally enough, even if this requires back to back meetings. The candidate is usually more relaxed on the second interview, especially if it is held over a coffee or breakfast for example. There is no real set limit to the number of interviews, but keep it realistic. Candidates aren’t just waiting on one opportunity, so be thorough but don’t lose them! Set the process with the hiring manager at the start and stick to it.
3) Technical & Competency Testing
Testing should also be considered, but only competency and technical tests have any value in my opinion. Competency based interviews are designed to define aspects of a candidates eligibility and suitability. It’s personal preference, but I don’t see how a “voight-kompff” style personality test garners any useful information; we’re not trying to weed out replicants. It’s a recruiter’s job to assess personality, not a robot or an algorithm. The best teams are often made up of a diverse group of personalities that can bring different opinions and solutions to the table. For software developers for example, technical test are essential in my opinion. Not online where the candidate can cheat, but in the office, either at a computer or with a pen and pad. These are really invaluable for assessing basic technical competence.
4) Assessing cultural fit
It is important to assess the candidates “cultural fit”. The skills and experience are obviously very key, but if the candidate won’t even fit into the existing team, then these are completely irrelevant. Think about the environment where this person will work. Is it remote, will this person need to interact with employees, is it quite vibrant and creative? It’s tough to assess these skills, and admittedly, a lot has to go down to gut instinct. A great way to help with this process is to involve other members of the team, or organisation that work in a similar environment. Walk the candidate around the office; give them a feel for the company. If the company has a culture of people working late and working out of hours then really press this issue. “Would you be happy working late some days and sometimes during your weekends?”
5) Assessing Capability
It’s obviously important to check for the candidates ability to carry out the job. A great way to assess this is to have an existing employee working in the same or similar role to ask questions about the day to day tasks. This is much easier to carry out with a technical role, through questioning and testing. The manager can present a problem to the candidate and have them solve it. Roles that rely heavily on “soft” skills, such as sales and marketing are a bit harder to assess. A great way to do this is to ask the candidate to present to you. Get them to convince you they are the right person and get them to sell your own products and services back to you. Are you convinced, do you warm to them? If not, then it is likely your prospective clients will feel the same way.
6) Interview Training for Line Managers
In most cases it will be the hiring manager that is driving the decisions. This is definitely how the process should run, though it is essential that recruitment or HR support the managers and get them to ask the right questions and conduct themselves appropriately. So many interviews I have sat on where the interviewing will do a hard sale for the whole interview and actually forget to ask the candidate any questions!
It can be very daunting for interviewers, especially if it’s a hiring managers first time, so it’s always good to have a meeting before to assess the questions that will be covered. The recruiter can then start the interview off, and I find after that the hiring manager is far more comfortable to drive the interview from there. It can be beneficial to hold training days with managers and to set an interview question list, but often managers aren’t keen to take part in these and are not very compliant. It can be seen as yet another task to add to the list, so you’ll need to really sell them on the benefits of this. Buy-in from a senior exec will really help your case.
7) Interviewing Contractors, Scheduling & Logistics – Get on with it!
In the fast moving world of contractor and freelancer hiring you will need interviewers to make themselves available and reserve time in their diary. Finding a great candidate and then saying that the interviewer isn’t available for two weeks is just going to go down badly with the candidate who will have other opportunities on radar.
If you can back to back interviews you will stand a better chance of completing your process and hiring the candidates you want before they disappear on another fantastic opportunity elsewhere. If there are geographical or logistical constraints then get them on skype or facetime to start the process and make them feel wanted. As long as you engage with candidates and keep communication open then you will stand a chance of making the hire.
Delay scheduling interviews too long or resort to radio silence and they will be gone by the time you get back to them. If you think that is the candidate’s loss and shows a lack of commitment then Im afraid you need a little reality check when it comes to the talent you are hiring. They want to work, have bills to pay and won’t wait around I’m afraid.
8) Ensure Decisions are Fair and Objective
I think it’s very important to also consider the mentality behind the interviewers. Will they have to compete with the person being hired? Often in these situations a lot of resentment can take place, and feedback can be very negative towards every candidate. It’s also an opportunity sometimes for employees to show their knowledge about their own role. The more difficult they make it look to fill, the more “prestige” they can attain. The hiring managers will know more about the requirements of the role and their feedback is vital, though do bear these considerations in mind. A way around this situation is to get opinions from other members of the business. Though this means the process is a bit less focused and concise, so use your intuition of when you think a more expanded process is necessary.
In conclusion, the real key is to discuss a process and stick with it. Be thorough but concise and don’t reduce your chances of making a hire. Make sure all stakeholders are involved and don’t panic. Interviewing can be an arduous process, but if run properly you will reap the rewards. The cost of hiring a bad employee is high. Not just in pure monetary terms, but also the time and resource involved in having to repeat the process to rehire someone. Making a great hire, with the talent and ability to fit in with your company culture, will lead to more engaged, productive employees, and improved retention.
This article was written by Jacob Kimber, International Recruitment Specialist at Blackboard Inc