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I was chatting with a friend not too long ago about interviewing experiences and practices. It got me thinking again about aspects of the candidate experience. One thing that is often overlooked is the idea that the interview process is truly an opportunity for both candidate and employer to get to know each other. So many interviews are designed as a one way street — “what do I get to know about the candidate?” or “what can this candidate do for us?” or maybe even, “will this candidate fit with our team/culture/company?” Guess what — candidates have those same questions about YOU! How does your process measure up?
Now, normally I give you three or four questions or things to consider, today, I am just going to give you one thing to ask yourself.
Does your interview process allow opportunities for your candidate to meet you?
“You” (a hiring manager, a colleague, a leader) … as a person.
I am not talking about stuff that you email in advance or anything that a candidate can find on the internet or through a Google search. While that gives more information about the company or maybe even the position itself, it’s lacking that “personal” factor. I’m also not saying that this means to start asking any of the “no-no” questions or get all into people’s business. What I AM saying is that the average American worker spends more time at work than do with their family and/or friends — so they deserve to get a feel of the people that they may be working it. It should absolutely be a part of the “decision” to take the position for the candidate. Give them the opportunity to learn more.
As HR professionals and managers, we’re trying to help the business find the right fit for the company and the position — and sometimes we pile in as many people into the process to help make that evaluation of the candidate as we can. Don’t treat your candidate like a goldfish in a bowl on display for everyone to see, it is a no-win for both parties. It can be intimidating for the candidate and doesn’t really give all those people involved in the process to really deep dive into the interviewing process and to learn about the candidate. I’d also caution about making the process to lean with too few people involved. Two further common mistakes that I see related to this: the “short” interview with many interviewers or many one on one interviews that stretch on for the entire day. Put yourself in the candidate’s shoes — what would an interviews like that feel to you?
Know your business and industry and set the right amount of time aside for interviews (and call backs) and get the right people involved (and don’t be afraid to say “no” if the group gets too big or knock on some doors if everyone is suddenly “busy”). I’d generally recommend a ratio of 2:1 (maybe 3:1) for a 45- 60 min face-face interview. This ratio allows for genuine exchange between people, interviewers can play off each other and compare notes of what they thought of responses, and it is not overwhelming for a candidate. I’d also recommend no more than four- 1-hour interviews at one time – that’s a 4 hour interviewing block for your candidate that they need to be “on.” If you need to do more (and if you are flying someone in you may), give adequate breaks and/or opportunities for them to ‘recharge’ where maybe they can interact with folks, but relax a little.
Remember, the goal is to give the candidate equal opportunity to learn more about the people that they may be working with (or the type of people who work at the company) as you learn more about them. What things have you embedded in your interview process that facilitates this?
If you haven’t built some of these concepts into your process or if you think that the interview process is all about getting information from the candidate — you might be leaving an open loop for your candidates … close it ;). What are your thoughts?