Screening and Interviewing in 2022
Welcome to the start of a new year. Historically, the month of January brings a spike in hiring as companies begin spending against their newly approved budgets. Combine that with the ongoing exodus of workers due to the Great Resignation, and 2022 is shaping up to be a big year for hiring.
But as your company begins the process of filling vacant positions, keep in mind that it’s a job seekers’ market, which means you’re competing for talent who have high expectations and are looking for something better. Now more than ever, it’s important to make a good impression, not just in how you market your company and your open positions, but in how you treat your candidates throughout the process. Even if you don’t hire a candidate, their experience with you will influence their decision about whether to apply for future opportunities at your company and their willingness to recommend you to people in their network who might also be on the lookout for job openings.
Beyond making a good impression, how you go about hiring influences your outcomes. It’s important to develop a screening and interviewing process that helps you mitigate bias so you can find the best candidates and build your reputation with integrity.
Mitigating Bias in the Screening Process
Bias clouds our judgment and can lead us to reject great candidates because of false assumptions. By taking steps to mitigate bias, you’re giving your candidates a fair chance to be considered based on their experience, knowledge, and skills. Creating a more diverse and inclusive work environment starts with hiring. By making the screening process fairer, you will improve your odds of building a highly skilled and diverse team, which is good for everyone!
So, you’ve posted your job opening and the resumes are streaming in, now what? Before you start reviewing and eliminating candidates, ask a colleague who’s not involved in the hiring process to go through each resume and cover letter to hide any identifying information such as names and pronouns, and any other indicators that would trigger unconscious bias. This information will need to be provided to the hiring team after the initial screening, so the person taking on the redacting responsibilities should have a process for disclosure when the time comes.
Once your resumes and cover letters are ready for review, get a few sets of eyes on them. Having multiple screeners with different backgrounds can offer a wider range of perspectives and increases the odds of finding the best match for the position. Each screener should make a list of pros and cons for each candidate and provide reasons for how they reached their conclusions. After comparing their notes, they can then decide which candidates will move on to the interview phase.
Interviewing with Intention
Interviews are your chance to get to know the candidates and determine which person would be the best match for the position. But it’s also their chance to discover if the company culture and role are right for them. The interview is arguably the most important step in a process designed to help you make a vital decision on behalf of your company, and it’s also a pivotal moment in your candidate’s life, so take it seriously and conduct your interviews with intention.
Setting aside a block of time to focus exclusively on your interview helps you get to know your candidate without distraction (i.e. worrying about the meeting you just attended or the work you need to get done). Having a set interview schedule provides a structure you can plan around. Candidates will notice if you aren’t prepared or fully present during an interview. You might come off as distracted or uninterested, and that won’t leave a good impression. You owe it to your organization and the interviewee to give your undivided attention so you can learn enough to make an educated decision about moving forward to the next phase.
To make the most of your interview, you should have a clear understanding of what you’re hoping to learn, and be ready to ask standardized questions addressing those specific areas. It can be tempting to follow your gut and improvise, but if you ask each candidate different questions, you lose the ability to make fair comparisons, and you might forget something important. It’s okay to ask your candidate to elaborate or share more about their experience as long as the inquiry is relevant to making an informed hiring decision.
You should invite more than one person to conduct interviews, including direct managers and peers. Whoever you hire will have an impact on the whole organization, so having a representative group of decision makers will improve your chances of getting it right. Take notes during the interview or record virtual interviews (with consent) to help you compare candidates later.
You can plan to have multiple rounds of interviews, but stick to three or less if you can, and be sure to keep the interval between them short. Respect everyone’s time, and don’t drag out the process longer than necessary. If you do, you risk making a bad impression, especially with those candidates that end up not getting an offer.
Don’t Ghost Your Candidates
Ghosting is when you end contact with someone without explanation. We’ve spoken to many job seekers who’ve expressed frustration at the sadly frequent experience of receiving no response from companies after applying, or even worse, not hearing back after an interview. It takes a lot of time and energy to apply to jobs — finding openings, updating your resume, drafting a cover letter, filling out applications, and interviewing. Anyone that puts in the work of applying deserves a response. You can draft a standard email for applicants who won’t be offered the chance to interview. But for candidates who interviewed and didn’t get an offer, be sure to let them know and personally acknowledge the value of their time. The more effort they put into getting the job, the more consideration they deserve when receiving a rejection notice. How you handle this will impact their impression of you and your company. If you treat them with dignity and respect, they will be much more likely to consider applying for a future opportunity at your organization and might even recommend you to their network.
Building Reputation With Integrity
Everything your company does, every person it engages with, and every relationship it forms (no matter how brief) contributes to its reputation. Companies are often hyper focused on their relationships with customers, but they should also consider how their actions are influencing their broader public perception, including that of job seekers. The impression we make on candidates are seeds that grow and contribute to the forest of our company’s reputation. So what impression would you like to make in 2022?
Originally published at https://www.handprint.io on January 5, 2022.