We all know how a typical interview works. You meet your candidate, probably online these days, ask a bunch of common interview questions, and then try to make the best hiring decision you can based on what you’ve learned. Odds are you have a favourite approach when it comes to interviewing or a standard set of questions you rely on. But times are uncertain these days and relying on an old strategy might not be the best way to gain the insight you need. Now is the perfect time to take a look at your interview style to see if there is any room for improvement. Planning out how you’re going to interview can be the difference between making a hiring mistake or a hiring win.
Improving the interview process
When it comes to job interviews, what can you do to make sure you’re covering all your bases? While you absolutely need to account for the basics like what a candidate brings to a position and their own career goals, preparing for an interview should go beyond merely compiling a list of questions. Instead, think more holistically about interviews and consider the following recommendations.
Prioritize candidate experience: With much of the hiring process moving online, candidate experience is more important than ever. It can be a challenge these days for candidates to get a true sense of what a company is like because most companies are experiencing some degree of disruption. So before you bring in your first candidate, consider what the interview process will be like for them. Crafting a strong remote candidate experience means being prepared. Your plan could include training hiring managers on how to conduct a Zoom-based interview. Or you could go to your empty office and take a video to share with your candidates about what the office looks like. Maybe you could even pre-record team messages talking about the company culture or what working at the company is like. What you don’t want to do is show up to your virtual interview without having done any legwork. Your candidate is going to have questions about what normal life at your company will look like. Get ahead of those answers before you even meet.
Use a structured interview approach: When the world is in turmoil there can be an instinct to rely on your gut to see you through these strange times. However, we know taking that approach to the interview process can lead to problems down the road, such as poor hires. Instead of giving off-the-cuff interviews, consider using a more structured approach. Structured interviews are interviews where questions have been pre-selected and are asked to candidates in the same order. This allows candidates to have a more even playing field as they all have an equal opportunity to respond and allows hiring managers to make more meaningful comparisons between candidates. Sticking to a script can also keep the interview on track to avoid any tangents that might waste precious time with a candidate.
Use assessments: Gaining a sense of who your candidate is and what their future potential could be is a challenge in every interview. After all, you want to make the best hiring decision you can and that means probing for insights. With more and more companies turning to remote hiring, however, finding the right candidate from a distance makes the task even more difficult. Assessments can be a good tool to leverage when you have to stay apart. You don’t need to be physically close to a candidate in order to collect insight into their personality, cognitive, and behavioural attributes. Understanding these attributes can then highlight how an employee might behave if they were to become part of your team.
Be cognizant of a candidate’s time: This is a big one right now. There was always the problem of the candidate black hole in recruiting. Candidates would give their time to a recruiter or a search and then never hear back from anyone as soon as they drop out of consideration. While this behaviour was never acceptable, it’s being thrown back into the spotlight with recruiter Sophie Symond’s viral post about her experience getting ghosted by employers after losing her job due to COVID-19. Her point, which has clearly resonated with many, is that these are hard times for everyone, candidates included. If you’ve been laid off or furloughed due to the pandemic, you’re facing a different kind of job search that you may have never embarked on before. It behooves all hiring managers or recruiters to act with more compassion and take the mere seconds required to let candidates know the outcome of their interviews. Don’t ghost your candidates when life is hard enough as it is.
Connect learnings from the interview to onboarding: If you interview effectively, you should leave the hiring process with a good deal of insight into who your new hire really is. That information is not just important for making a hiring decision but also for creating an onboarding program that’s personalized. If you used some kind of assessment when you hired that’s that strong place to start. Check the results report for tips on your candidate’s management and work style and then use that to help you build a rapport with your new employee. People learn and communicate in different ways so finding the right method to train someone can make the difference between a lip-service onboarding that’s easily forgotten or one that leaves a lasting impression.
Make the most of your interviews
Interviews are a key piece of any successful hiring process, but they require time and planning. You don’t want to show up for your next interview armed with generic questions like, “What’s your greatest weakness?” or “Where do you see yourself in five years?” Instead, think about what sort of information you need to collect to make an informed decision. Even better, also consider what your candidate needs to know to make the right choice for them. They’ll probably want to hear about the normal work environment or company culture. Maybe they’ll have questions about their teammates or how their new job will be structured. Preparing for those questions in advance helps the process run more smoothly. And once the interview is over, don’t leave anyone hanging. Spending the time to follow up isn’t just respectful, right now it can be vital information to a candidate’s job search, especially when dealing with employees who may be experiencing career uncertainty right now. So before you embark on your next interview, take a step back and think about whether you’re as prepared as you think you are. When you take a thoughtful approach to interviews, even remote ones, you stand a better chance at finding the best candidate for your team.