By: Andrew Doyle
While interviewing is one of the most important steps in hiring a new employee, it’s neither easy nor an exact science. Strategizing every move in the interview process is necessary to make the right hiring decisions as well as to keep top candidates hooked, which is one of the biggest challenges in today’s candidate-driven market.
There are more jobs to fill — especially in tech — than there are right-fit candidates. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that by 2020, 1.4 million positions will be open in computing with only 400,000 computer science graduates available to fill them. Clearly, candidates have more offers and options lined up for them, which also means that employers have a smaller window to make that first impression before a top talent is scooped up by their competitors.
Interviews give you an opportunity to evaluate if a candidate is the right fit for your company but it also works the other way around — it gives candidates the opportunity to size you up too. Especially for the in-demand candidates, interviews serve as a platform where they determine if your company is better than ten others that have approached them. When top candidates weigh their options, employers who have built better relationships stand out, and a seamless and effective interview process definitely counts.
Simply put, without a properly planned interview process, you’re at a high risk of losing top talents to your competitors.
Tips to develop an effective interview process
Create a thorough job description
A good first step towards a well-planned interview is to make sure your job description is well thought-out. I’ve known many instances where people just borrow a job description from co-workers and make minor edits. This not only ruins their chances of attracting the right candidates in the first place but also makes the process tedious for both the employers and the candidates.
Remember, a job description is the baseline of what you need and can have a dramatic impact on the candidates you will see. Therefore, spend some time on creating a job description that’s enticing, motivating and really makes the candidate excited about joining your team. Here are some tips on how you can do that:
– Outline what a typical day in the job will look like. Additionally, list out the growth opportunities in this role — six months, one year, 2-4 years down the road.
– Describe the size of the team, what important initiatives are coming down the pipeline, and what opportunities there are to gain new skills, etc.
– Include other selling points of the company — flexible schedule, options to work from home, reputation for stability, big bonuses, great people? Why are you working for this company and why are others staying at this company?
Lastly, maintain balance. For instance, if the job description is not well written or looks rushed, it may be perceived that the employer is disorganized. On the other hand, if it’s too long and asks for too many requirements, it can look overbearing and less attractive to candidates.
Aim for faster and more seamless decision making
Having several key people interview an applicant together can provide a depth of information that might elude a single interviewer. But, the potential downside of getting more than one interviewer involved in the process is that each person might have different expectations or understanding of what makes a candidate more suitable for the company, and different ways of assessing their answers.
To avoid this problem, make sure all interviewers are on same page in terms of what you are looking for. Create a list of specific questions that each interviewee is asked and have a uniform system that everyone can use to rate a candidate, so at the end of each interview, candidates are assessed on the same criteria.
Communicate as clearly as possible
Nothing breaks talent acquisition deals in today’s tight job market like slow-moving communication, which I’ve written about previously. To make sure candidates are comfortable with your interview process — and the entire hiring process — it’s important to clearly communicate to prospective candidates the steps they are likely to go through and how soon they can expect the process to roll.
This is the type of clear-cut conversation that I recommend you have with candidates right at the outset:
“The first interview will be over a brief 30 minute phone call. The second interview will be with the technical leads and finally, the business heads. We will try to have you only come back for one day of in-person interviews. We should have a decision made after one to two weeks.”
I have seen too many candidates get gobbled up by the competition just because one company has too much process, too many interviews or takes too much time from one interview to the next. If your company’s hiring process is riddled with any of these problems, you need to act before top candidates lose interest.
Be prepared prior to the interview
Nothing is worse than an unprepared interviewer. Not only does it show the company in poor light but also sends out a message that the candidate is not important or worth your time. When a candidate understands the interviewer is reading their application or resume, for the first time during the interview, then they may feel that the interviewer may not be that interested in them.
Not only that, if you don’t take the time to read the resume and qualifications of the candidate before the interview, you’ll fail to gather enough information to make an informed decision about the candidate.
Make your offer in an impressive way
An offer that spells out everything that the candidate needs to know prior to joining your company can go a long way in securing the right candidates. Instead of a cut-and-paste offer, make sure to enlist everything that may sweeten the deal. For instance, besides mentioning the pay, tell them about the opportunities for career growth, skill advancement, and most importantly, that you are super excited to have them on the team. It can be a great gesture for the direct manager to reach out to the potential candidates.
If you’re facing problems in hiring the right candidates, identifying and filling the gaps in your interview process can help you recruit better employees with lasting results.