Many companies see the interview process as a one-sided assessment of a potential employee. Hiring managers are so focused on crafting a process that’s informative and useful to themselves, they forget to make it a positive experience for the candidate as well.
The interview process is the candidate’s first impression of your company. It’s very telling as to how a company operates and treats their employees. So to attract top talent, it’s vital to nail the process and get the candidate excited about coming on board.
With extensive experience hiring roles for tech startups in the Midwest, the PeopleFoundry team knows the interview process is much more than the time spent in a conference room throwing questions at a candidate. It begins long before you post a position and continues through the employee’s first day of work. Whether you’re filling an entry-level role or finding your next CEO, your team needs to spend time perfecting the process.
Crafting the Job Description
As we mentioned in our post about what leadership candidates look for in a role, it’s essential to craft a specific, goal-oriented job description. Any vagueness, uncertainty or discrepancies in the description may cause a candidate to walk away.
Crafting an enticing job description starts with identifying an unsolved business need and creating a role around that. Knowing he or she is contributing to the overall business goals gives an employee, especially those in leadership roles, a purpose—and a sense of job security.
Once you’ve identified an unsolved need, create a list of duties, goals for the employee to hit in the first 30 to 90 days and the qualifications and skills needed to accomplish them. Don’t limit your list of qualifications to technical skills or keywords that have historically been used to describe the role. Talk to people currently in the role, their supervisors or those who’ve held it in the past to get a sense of what personality traits are needed to perform the job successfully.
Once the role is defined and you have buy-in from the appropriate stakeholders, add the title and compensation package. By starting with a business need, working towards a job description then adding a title, you may find that the role you need is different from the vacancy you’re filling.
If you are interested in attracting a diverse pool of talent, read over your job description for key words that might be a deterrent for different identity groups. Research has shown that unconscious bias is often present in the language of job descriptions. Replace words like “competitive” and “manage” with words like “collaborate” and “lead.”
Before posting the job description, triple check for typos or confusing language. You’ll also want to look at your website and social pages. As you research a candidate, the candidate is researching you. Your company culture should shine on your About Us page, employee bios and social media channels.
Prepping for the Interview
This stage in the process is often where we see hiring managers fall short. Skimming a resume is not enough to prepare for the interview. First and foremost, decide who needs to be part of the process. Strike a balance between having enough people to get a good read on the candidate and not wasting their time, especially on the first round of interviews.
Next, make sure everyone involved in the process is 100% on the same page about the objectives and responsibilities of the role. There is nothing more frustrating for a candidate than hearing a different job description from each person they talk to at your organization.
Much like the candidate, you should prep for the interview with extensive research. Don’t wait until five minutes before your scheduled time to read their resume. If you’re going to have a compelling conversation with thoughtful and intelligent questions, you should know their resume inside and out. It shows that you care about the process and value their time.
During the Interview
Think of the interview as the candidate’s first day on the job, because for the one who is awarded the role, it is. Be thoughtful, kind and considerate. The interview should be a conversation, not an interrogation. It’s ok to ask challenging questions, but the candidate shouldn’t feel like they’re walking into a hostile environment.
To make the best use of the candidate’s time, ask pointed questions and give the conversation room to breathe. Not only will you get more information from the candidate by letting them answer the questions thoroughly, but it will put them at ease knowing you’re not flying though a list of questions.
At the end of the interview, leave time for the candidate to ask questions. And come prepared with answers to the two big questions: “what does success look like in this role”, and “why should I join the team?” Though your team should absolutely be aligned on the answer to the first question, the second can be answered more personally. Your answer to the “why” question should be specific to the candidate (this is where the interview prep comes into play). If you’ve done your research, your answer should help seal the deal for the candidate.
At the end of the interviews, the HR manager or team lead must review next steps for the interview process. Not knowing the next steps or timing may leave a candidate feeling like you’re not interested, and they’ll move on.
Outside the Conference Room
Whenever possible, invite top candidates to spend time with the team outside the office. This is especially helpful for leadership roles. Knowing a candidate can perform job functions is only half the battle; they need to work well with your team and buy into the company culture. Personality and culture fit are important for both you and the candidate. If they’re truly interested in the job, they’ll jump at the opportunity to spend more time getting to know the team.
Making an Offer
Take your time finding and vetting the right candidate, but once you’ve found her, act quickly. Top talent is in high demand and an employee’s excitement about joining your company may wane over time. Don’t miss out on a candidate because you’re dragging your feet or acting coy. If she’s the right person, make an offer and let her know how much you want her on your team. Hypothetically, this is going to be a great partnership for the candidate and the company, so let your excitement show.
Once the candidate’s accepted, get the new hire on-boarded and up-to-speed quickly. The first month on the job is often when an employee determines on long she will stay with your company, so make it a positive time.
If you think this process sounds overwhelming, you’re not wrong! It takes a lot of time and effort to get it right. If your team doesn’t have the time or resources to nail the interview process, contact the team at PeopleFoundry to hand off the process and access the best talent in the Midwest.