Crafting an Interview Process That Makes a Lasting Impression
As an employer in today’s tight talent market, you can make a great first impression by standardizing your interview processes. An interview is your organization’s opportunity to showcase your mission, your team, and set the tone of what it would be like to work together. With effective interview planning, you can create a favorable impression by positively engaging candidates and making employment decisions in a timely manner.
When designing interviews, hiring teams should consider the style of interview, the interview team, interview protocol, and time for candidates to ask questions. As they say, “First impressions make a lasting impression.”
Establish steps for an effective and efficient hiring process
A standardized hiring process is the best way to create a good candidate experience. At Good Insight, our basic steps of the hiring process are as follows:
- Create a job description – Focus on role clarity, while using language that appeals to a broad and diverse pool of candidates and accurately portraying the needs and requirements of the role.
- Promote and source candidates – We utilize several methods to promote our roles, such as utilizing job boards, social media, or sourcing through our own professional networks.
- Complete screen calls – This preliminary interview is a helpful method to narrow the selection process and verify that candidates have the key qualifications of the job description.
- Conduct virtual and/or in-person interviews – Over one or two rounds, these interviews are more in-depth and provide a broader picture of how well each candidate will fit within the organization and role.
- Perform an applicable assessment or assignment – While not always necessary, assessments or candidate assignments offer an opportunity for candidates to showcase their skills and expertise. Depending on the time commitment for the assignment, we suggest candidates are compensated with an honorarium for completing.
- Complete a reference check – We recommend checking references of the top two or three candidates. To get a well-rounded perspective of each candidate, be specific about who you would like to speak with: supervisors, board members, colleagues, and direct reports. Your questions should be tailored to the candidate and specific to the responsibilities of the role.
- Provide a job offer and negotiate terms – Highly qualified candidates are typically not on the market for long, so extend the job offer quickly once you’ve decided who to hire. Include information regarding salary and benefits, and be prepared for some negotiation during this time. Also, be prepared if your first choice doesn’t work out.
- Prepare to onboard – Onboarding should be about helping new employees feel settled, rather than on the job training. Outside of completing necessary paperwork, introduce them to key co-workers and stakeholders. Familiarize them with the organization’s culture, tools, and processes. Train them on their role and provide check-ins and follow-ups.
You can ensure the process matches your business needs by eliminating unnecessary steps, such as those shared in the Mind Tools, 10 Recruitment Mistakes: How to Avoid Wasting Time and Money When Hiring. Essentially, a well-crafted hiring process is a more efficient way to find qualified candidates, build stronger teams and save your organization on hiring and training costs.
Initiate and prepare your interview team
Your interview team is another important aspect to think about when creating your Interview process. The people tasked with making hiring decisions will likely lead the process, but also consider including the new hire’s peers and direct reports. An interview team of diverse stakeholders with different backgrounds, perspectives, and working relationships not only offers candidates an inside look at what it could be like to join the team, but it also adds integrity to the hiring process. Furthermore, an inclusive interview team can increase the quality of your new hires drastically.
Once the interview team is identified, it’s essential that participants have clarity about the interview process’ goals, stages, and timing. Use a team meeting to level-set expectations about desired attributes for candidates, the interview process, and general conduct, as well as, equity, bias, and Equal Employment Opportunity compliance. Pay close attention to those who haven’t been on an interview panel before, or who are new to your organization. It may help to have a new interviewer shadow or co-lead with someone more experienced to get attuned to the process. When interviewers are comfortable with the process and understand what attributes they’re looking for, the more effective they can be.
Craft situation-based interview questions
An interview’s ultimate objective is to assess candidates’ skills and aptitude for a position. Through the conversation, employers can learn about candidates’ interpersonal skills, reactions to stress, and whether they have been honest in their resumes. Consider interviews to be mutually-beneficial dialogue to learn about a candidate’s experiences and interest in the role.
Open-ended behavioral questions allow candidates to share specific situational examples. Behavioral interview questions are structured as, “Tell me about a time where you had to do X” or “Walk me through a scenario where you completed Y.” These examples allow candidates to showcase certain skills related to the job description. Behavioral questions also provide a level comparison method – apples to apples and oranges to oranges. With such focus on skill set, they are also proven to help to mitigate interviewer bias.
Many employers also use interviews to assess “culture fit,” which is when an employee thrives in their work environment because they share the same goals and values as the company. Culture fit also can refer to how well a candidate works in an environment with certain power structures, such as linear power structures, a hierarchical power structure, or a middle ground between the two. It is important for the interview panel to discuss and define what organizational culture and/or cultural fit is, as it can create implicit affinity bias where interviewers are seeking out candidates that are most similar to them. We typically talk about “cultural add,” which embraces a multicultural frame to building organizational culture, and according to Rise People, a people management consultancy, shifts the focus from finding someone who merely fits into your team to someone who actively adds value.
Acknowledge candidate questions and provide next steps
An interview is a two-way street and candidates should have a chance to ask questions to help them determine if the job and the organization are right for them. Their questions can also help you assess if they have adequately prepared for the interview and are genuinely interested in the job. Typically, you should be prepared to answer questions such as, what are hybrid/remote work requirements? What does my success look like to you over the first 90 days? Do you see any shifts happening with the current strategic plan?
Close the interview by explaining the next steps in the process and the rough timeline that they should expect to hear from you. Make the date and means of communication clear, and thank the candidate for their time. Then commit to responding to each candidate by the allotted date, even if they are not advancing in the process. It’s a professional courtesy that contributes to candidates’ positive impression of your organization.
Do the groundwork to set the standard
As the talent market tightens, candidates have more opportunities available to them. To remain competitive, it will become increasingly important to focus on a strong and engaging interview process. If you have not standardized your organization’s interview process, you could make an unintentionally negative impression on candidates leading you to lose out on great talent.
Our advice: do the groundwork to establish a process that will set your organization’s standard. Great interview processes will ensure you evaluate candidates in ways that make the process work for the organization and for them.