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Interview process methodology review to attract top talent

Digital disruption and the speed of technology innovation is driving rapid operational and functional change within companies around the globe. It is disrupting the way candidates are sourced as well as the way companies communicate with them throughout the interview process.

Without applying a continuous improvement mindset to your candidate interview process, you may fall behind your competition when it comes to devising innovative interview processes that creates an exceptional candidate experience.

Whilst meeting face to face with candidates is still preferable for many companies, there are new ways to connect and communicate with top talent during the interview process. Adapt your process or risk become less appealing as an employee of choice.

Re-visit your existing interview process

The latest CRM systems and Big Data tools are offering huge value to large companies when it comes to managing and administering the candidate interview process. However given the cost and resources required to run, expensive technology is not accessible to every company.

That does not mean that you are going to be left behind if your company is a start up or a smaller company, currently scaling or a mid sized company that cannot afford additional technology that enhances the interview process.

The advantage for start ups and small companies

If you are running a start up or small company you don’t need to use high cost tools to create a positive candidate impression with your interview process. Start ups and smaller companies have the advantage of being nimble, with the ability to make swift changes to interview processes. This can create a quicker, more effective, candidate focused interview process.

With the ability to “fail fast”, trying new interview processes and techniques, means you can self correct as you go, based on real time feedback from candidates and those interviewing them.

So, given the pace of change, whether your company is a multi national global brand or a small start up, if you haven’t reviewed your interview process lately, you should.

It is imperative that, at the very least, your interview process keeps pace with that of your competitors. Above all, you need to ensure that the process is creating an exceptional candidate experience, boosting your company reputation and reflecting a professional and innovative brand.

Helpful questions to assess your current interview process

In this era of rapid change, take the time to review your existing interview process often. To get started, consider the following questions:

  1. Does each step in our interview process still serve our company well?
  2. Are we tracking how successful our current interview process is? The data doesn’t lie. If you are not tracking key interview success metrics right now, you should be. To measure improvements, you need to establish a baseline. Track key metrics such as cost to hire, time to hire, acceptance rates and retention rates.
  3. Where are the current “bottlenecks” in our interview process? Can they be unblocked with better planning or an amended process?
  4. Have all of our current interviewers been properly and comprehensively trained to interview candidates? Is their training current?
  5. Is our current interview process providing us with high quality, talented candidates for consideration?
  6. Does our current interview process incorporate content related to our company values and culture? How do we determine candidate suitability against them?
  7. How are we recording information about each candidate?
  8. How do our success metrics (ie interview to hire rate) compare to previous years, across divisions and against sector benchmarks?

The answers to the questions above plus many others, will give you a sense for the effectiveness of your current interview process.

Jobvite’s 2018 Recruiting Benchmark Report shows an average time-to-hire of 38 days, down from 41 days in 2015. Glassdoor reports an average of 23.8 days in the United States.

Is it time to re-define your interview methodology?

Change for changes sake is of course, a poor use of time and resources. However reviewing your interview process regularly is essential if you want to remain competitive in an ever changing recruitment marketplace.

Head off site for reflection and review (and don’t roll your eyes!)

Whilst you may think that your company’s interview methodology just needs minor tweaking, it is valuable to step back regularly, and take a close look at your current process.

Consider taking some time “off site” with relevant company stakeholders to review whether your current interview process is supporting your recruitment campaign, talent acquisition goals and overall company strategy.

In an off site context, consider throwing your interview methodology up in the air altogether. Spend some time thinking about a complete disruption of your current interview process. When unconstrained by the current process, you might be surprised by the creative and innovative ideas employees comes up with to improve your approach.

Although this creative exercise may not convince you to turn your interview process on its head, the commitment to innovative thinking will drive continuous improvements in your approach over time.

Candidate interview innovation examples

Recent innovation has started to reinvigorate the candidate interview experience around the globe.

As an example, adding an initial video interview (real time or pre-recorded) can reduce the amount of face to face first round interviews your company undertakes. Candidate videos can be shared with relevant stakeholders in your company to determine which applicants should be moved through to a face to face interview. A standardised assessment of these videos is essential.

Alternatively, you may decide that, if you cannot get a candidate in for a face to face interview within 48 hours, you will interview them via Skype.

Technology can assist you to speed up your overall interview process and time to fill metrics. But keep in mind that time to hire averages vary significantly based on the employer, the sector and the type of position being filled. For example, Glassdoor reports that the job with the fastest interview process is for a Waiter (at 8 days), with the slowest interview process being for a Professor at 60.3 days.

Whatever you decide, any interview process changes should align with your overall company strategy. It can be tempting to adopt new and innovative technology and tools, without qualifying that doing so, aligns with your company strategy, values and culture.

Interviewer bias review considerations

It is very important to ensure subconscious interviewer biases do not affect the way you’re your company stakeholder’s interview candidates. There are some obvious interview biases that we all know we should avoid, such as race, age, gender, weight and sexual orientation biases.

Interview between woman and man
Photo credit: Unsplash

Some biases are more subtle and difficult to identify. Some of these interview biases include:

  • First impression bias –  this is where an interviewer may allow a first impression of a candidate to dictate their entire reflection of an interview which may benefit or harm the candidate’s chances of selection. For example, how the candidate greets you in the company foyer before the interview
  • Halo/Horn Effect – This one can be two-sided: the interviewer may find one good trait and will favor the candidate based on this trait (the Halo Effect). Adversely, the interviewer may find one negative trait and use that as a disqualifier (the Horn Effect).
  • Contrast Effect – An interviewer may be tempted to compare candidates against one another rather than based on their assessment of skills, experience and core competencies required for the position
  • Personal Identification – This occurs when the interviewer identifies with the candidate on a personal level, rather than evaluating the candidate on job-related criteria
  • Inconsistent approach to each interview – An interviewer may ask a different set of questions in each candidate interview for the same role. You cannot make a fair comparison of candidates when this occurs

Top Tips for shaking up your interview process

Tip 1. When reviewing your interview process, take some time to review the biases outlined above. Is every interviewer in your company trained to identify their own bias? If not, how are you going to skill employees up, to avoid any interviewer bias?

Tip 2. Stick to a proven and repeatable interview template, to create a consistent, fair and standardised interview process. This makes it easier to compare one candidate to another.

Tip 3. Train and regularly review your interviewers. Identify company stakeholders who currently take part in your interview process. Are these stakeholders still the most appropriate people to be part of your interview process? Are there others who have recently joined the company who could add value to the process?

Remember, companies change over time. Start ups become small enterprises. Small enterprises become national or global brands. Ensure that your interview process changes in line with the size of your company.

Survey candidates who have experienced your interview process

There is no better way to review your interview process than collating feedback from those who have experienced your interview process directly. Here are some ideas for collating useful feedback from candidates you have interviewed:

  • Send a quick survey (eg using Survey Monkey or similar) to candidates who have interviewed with your company recently. Ask candidates a few questions about how they found your interview process. To improve the response rate, ensure the survey is not too long or difficult to complete.
  • Call candidates who have been interviewed by your company. Have a quick chat about the candidate’s experience interviewing with your company, ensuring you ask the same questions of each interviewee. This ensures you will be able to identify key trends and themes in any feedback provided. Also, ask how your process compares to other company interview processes they have undertaken.
  • Speak with employees you have employed recently. Ask employees for their thoughts on the pros and cons of your current interview process.

For example, Airtasker seeks feedback on their support service, regularly asking their Job Posters and Taskers “How did we do?”. Whilst they don’t get feedback from everyone, by making the process fairly simple, the data provides Airtasker with valuable trends and themes that can then be addressed over time to improve their Job Poster and Tasker experience.

Review your candidate interview feedback cycles  

Ironically, whilst automation is becoming more popular by the day, so is good old fashioned personal connection with candidates. Yes. Greater personal contact with potential employees can improve your chances of securing them.

Man interviewing man
Photo credit: Unsplash

And, if you are serious about your talent acquisition strategy, you should be looking carefully at all candidate resumes you receive. After all, these candidates are signalling that they would consider working with your company at some stage.

Whilst your interview process may have identified that a particular candidate is not be a great fit for the role they have applied for, they may be a great fit for another role down the track.

Talent acquisition is a long term play – and contacting as many interviewed candidates and referrals as possible, creates a professional brand impression and aligns with this longer term talent attraction mentality.

Do you provide real time interview feedback?

I still shake my head at the lack of feedback some companies provide to candidates who have interviewed with them. Whilst I understand that company recruitment and talent acquisition specialists are time poor, real time feedback signals your company’s professionalism. Actually, more than that. Meaningful, evidence based and real time feedback, improves your brand reputation.

Feedback, which is such a small act, has the potential to create a competitive advantage for your company. It is what I call a “1%er”. I believe that taking the time to provide feedback can make a dramatic difference to your company reputation. Sure, the candidate may not be the right fit now, but they most certainly could make a client, employee or referrer down the track.

Is the feedback you provide after each interview meaningful? 

Candidates who have taken the time to not only apply for a role with your company, but also to interview with you, should be offered the courtesy of interview feedback. Over the years, I have noticed that some interviewers are simply not comfortable to provide specific and helpful feedback to candidates.

This is sometimes because they are unable to put their finger on what exactly they are not “sold on”. In other cases, this hesitation comes down to confidence in delivering meaningful but sometimes constructive or negative feedback.

Provide additional training to your employees involved in your interview process to improve their ability to provide professional, articulate feedback to interviewed candidates.

Are you committed to providing evidence based feedback after candidate interviews?

When you provide feedback to candidates who have been unsuccessful for a role, you are likely to get some insight into their professionalism. If candidates you contact seem offended or annoyed by any constructive feedback you provide, this gives you some insight into their general response to feedback on their performance!

Business women on the phone
Photo credit: Unsplash

In saying that, you should always deliver feedback with professionalism and empathy. You are representing your company’s brand (and your own professional brand) at all times when communicating with candidates in the marketplace.

Re-affirm what your brand stands for – then do everything you can to live by it

Consider any changes in your interview process in line with your company values and culture. If you are a small bespoke company that espouses personal connection as part of your every day work ethos, don’t invest in technology that automates every aspect of your interview process.

Equally, if you are a company that espouses digital and technology advancement as one of your key values, prospective candidates are likely to expect some level of automation to support your interview process.

Tips for companies who interview talented individuals

  • Improve your interview process by adopting a continuous improvement ethos. If your company is large enough, consider creating a working group within your company, that meets regularly to review your interview approach. Diversity of opinion ensures your interview process takes into consideration various perspectives.

The most innovative ideas often come from individuals who are not constrained by the way you have always done things. Taking feedback from employee beyond your recruitment and Talent Acquisition teams will deliver “outside of the box” thinking which has the ability to propel your company approach forward.

  • Reviewing your interview process once a year is not going to keep you ahead of your competitors. Create forums (on site and off site) to review the process at least once a quarter, or even better, tweak the process in real time after each role campaign
  • If a new and creative tool becomes available, assign someone to explore it further and provide feedback to the group – don’t distract EVERY recruitment team member when “new and shiny” candidate interview tools hit the market.

Tips for talented individuals being interviewed

  • There is a difference between negativity and constructive feedback. Take any constructive feedback provided to you by employment agencies and prospective employers, with professionalism and gratitude.
  • If you are not shortlisted for a role, ask the company stakeholder how you can stay in touch with the company. With so many social media platforms available to you, there are many ways you can remain connected. You never know what opportunities might arise down the track.

Further Reading and Resources

For clients 

Article: This 2 step process virtually eliminates interviewer bias

Interviewing techniques

Selection Process Benchmarks – How does yours compare?

How to give honest feedback to candidates

For candidates 

To Ace Your Job Interview, Get into Character and Rehearse

How to show you’re passionate in a job interview


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