Examining the Interview Process to Improve Candidate Experience and Employer Brand

I came across an old SHRM article yesterday titled, “Why Hiring Is Taking So Long—and What HR Can Do About It?”, As I made my way through the article, I almost cried tears of validation. As the SHRM article points out, “The most common impasse occurs when candidates’ resumes sit untouched in a hiring manager’s inbox.” For the life of me, I can’t understand how this has become such a widely accepted behavior. This is the topic of this blog post, removing the massive kink in the funnel that resides at the hiring manager.

Pointing out the communication disconnect between hiring and talent acquisition is nothing groundbreaking, it is this understood and accepted dichotomy that needs to be overcome. No tool, technology or amount of marketing is going to defeat a dysfunctional relationship between TA and Hiring. The good news is that implementing these strategies into your small-midsized company is much easier than trying to correct the course after growth.

It is easily argued the only individual that is involved in the hiring process in its entirety is indeed the hiring manager, not the recruiter. I believe that HR/recruiting/TA has an advisory role in this process and it is incumbent on them to do just that, advise. Work with the hiring team to bridge this gap and do you part to remove this kink. It is our job as talent acquisition professionals to understand the market and hopefully be able to use those conditions to influence the desired outcome.

Here are six common mistakes made in the evaluation/interview process that need to disappear if you want to lead the pack in hiring talent.

  • No response or limited response after candidate submittal

The recruitment team is out searching the corners of the internet to bring in talent that matches your requirements, they do their job vetting and getting candidates excited about the role, they submit to the hiring manager, and then, nothing. The black hole has opened and swallowed your candidate and recruiter’s confidence. Days go by, no feedback and the candidate is calling for updates every day, which keeps your recruiter off the phone filling other jobs, and your candidate has now accepted another offer.

How do we fix this?

RESPOND!

We learn so much from feedback; any good recruiter will tell you they learn just as much from the rejections as the hires. Nothing is more of a waste of energy than an email that says, “We are not interested in this candidate.” I promise you when your recruitment team sees this; they are screaming “WHY!?!?!” at their computer screen. Provide your evaluation in the response so the team can adjust and hopefully be that much closer to finding the right person. Make sure any insight gained from hiring manager feedback is then stored in your ATS for future recall. There is nothing wrong with rejecting candidates, it is an expected part of the job, but a rejection without reason is a missed opportunity.

  • Lack of Preparation

We prepare candidates for interviews to a painstaking degree, so why are we not preparing the hiring team? Most hiring managers are conducting interviews as an ancillary duty to their job, and not a lot of companies perform interview training. Have your questions written down, know what you are hiring for and make sure your questions address the qualifications you are seeking. Nothing is more frustrating than asking a candidate to come back in because the interview was not thorough enough to complete an evaluation.

  • Ask the same questions in all interviews

Not all the questions, but there are reasons beyond just hiring compliance to why you want to ask the same basic set of questions in all your interviews. I have heard of interviews ending because the answer to the first question, not only is that super awkward but what if the answer to question two, three, four and five were going to knock your socks off? Answering the same basic set of questions also helps eliminate bias and any preconceived notions the interviewer is walking into the room with.

  • Days, or even weeks, in-between candidate interviews

Schedule all candidate interviews to take place within a few days of each other, or the same day if possible.  Frequently, hiring managers will think they are efficient by choosing to interview the candidate that looks the best on paper, first. “Well let’s interview Mark and see how that goes, then I will decide who else we want to speak to.”

This is a massive time killer and can surely add days, if not weeks of your time to hire. What if all the other candidates get job offers in the time it took to decide on Mark? What if Mark receives another offer? What if Mark interviews horribly? This will send your team chasing its tail and shaking their fists in frustration the whole time. Set aside time to conduct all interviews promptly to increase your chance of getting out ahead of other offers the candidates might be expecting. This is also a symptom of evaluating candidates against each other vs. assessing candidates against the job qualifications.

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  • The “Maybe” pile – Make a decision

“Let’s keep them warm and see who else is out there.” We all know how this one ends up, weeks of additional sourcing to go back to one of the original candidates, however, they have since been swooped up by another offer, and you are left to start again. In this candidate market, it is essential to decide promptly, and one of the best ways to be confident is to be clear at the beginning about what a great candidate looks like.

  • Multiple unnecessary in-person interviews

This screams of indecision and disorganization. It tells candidates not only are you horrible at making business decisions, but a job with your company will be filled with endless meetings of red tape in which nothing gets accomplished. Now, this may not be true, but this is the message that is being sent and the perception that is being formed by the candidate. The further the decision gets pushed down the road increases the chance your candidate will get another position, drop out of consideration or reject an offer.

Changing the above behaviors will not only go a long way to securing talent for your company but also developing a rich candidate experience and employer brand. Reducing the time to hire of course benefits your bottom line, but it also reduces stress for everyone involved in the process from candidate to hiring manager.