I have dreaded interviews my entire life. Regardless of whether I am actively seeking an opportunity or passively looking for the next best opportunity that comes my way — Interviews have never been fun.
How many times have you walked out of an interview and secretly wished that the interviewers were less intimidating? Most of us can remember a negative and stressful interview experience.
Unfortunately, most companies don’t provide formal training on how to conduct successful interviews. If they do, the training is typically more aligned to old and archaic ways of conducting an interview. It doesn’t necessarily put the candidate at ease, and interviews are a two-way street. While you’re trying to hire the best candidate, they’re evaluating multiple companies to find the best fit for their career.
The best candidates in the industry are not just looking for dollars. They equally care about the culture of the organization, the people they will be working with, and how this job will help them grow both professionally and personally. Interviews today need to reflect this reality.
78% say the overall candidate experience they receive is an indicator of how a company values it people.
— Career Builder
I have found that by doing a few simple things during the interview process, you will be able to improve the quality of employees you hire at your organization.
Here are my top 5 tips that have helped me to hire some of the best candidates in the industry. I have tried them in hundreds of interviews and have iterated and refined the best
1. First impressions matter
The first person potential candidates meet in your organization is usually your colleague at the front desk. Employers seldom understand the impact and influence people that the front desk have on potential candidates.
The colleague who takes care of our front desk operations is kind and personable. When I walk candidates from the front office to the board room for interviews, they often mention how my colleague at front office helped them feel at ease. It has naturally lead to discussions about our organizational values and the culture we strive to foster within the teams.
I was wondering for a long time how our colleague at front office always managed to create a positive influence on most, if not all our candidates. I unraveled the secret when a candidate mentioned that our colleague at front desk offered her a bottle of water. It sounds like a very simple gesture. But it goes a long way to make them feel comfortable with the space and people around them.
2. Start the interview by speaking about yourself and your organization
Most interviews start with a generic “tell me about yourself.” Answers to that question are seldom valuable because the candidate would most likely walk you through her resume. This also reflects poorly on the interview panel because they haven’t taken the time to know the candidate through her profile.
As an interviewer, have you ever thought of starting an interview speaking about your organization, your business model, or how you serve your customers?
If you are a startup, highlight what value your business is creating and how it’s impactful. If you are an established organization, highlight what role your department or your function play in your organization.
Trust me, this works like a magic. It’s something that I have watched my boss practicing with most candidates he interviews. The candidates have always walked out of the interview feeling important because the interview wasn’t unilateral. The interview was not just the candidate selling her skills and experience, it is also about the interviewer stating why she should join the organization.
I highly recommend starting an interview by speaking about the company and your department and what value you create for the business. Curious candidates will use this opportunity to ask the right questions. Those questions create a natural segue for a more exploratory conversation which will enable the interview panel to know the candidate better.
3. Ask to be interviewed
Most traditional interviews end with “Do you have any questions?” If the candidate is confident, she will ask a bunch of questions she prepared prior to the interview or if she is humble, she would gently pass.
Have you ever tried role reversal before wrapping up an interview? How about the candidate being the interviewer and you being the interviewee? Does it sound fun?
It is fun and a very valuable part of an interview that will help the interviewer to uncover the leadership abilities of the candidate.
The type of questions that candidate asks will help you understand the research that she has done about your company and her strategic outlook on how she can solve some of your problems. As an interviewer, use this opportunity to navigate through more interesting things that you expect the candidate to address if she joins your team. Most successful candidates will use this opportunity as an icing on the cake. They will give you more reasons to convince why you should hire them.
4. Genuinely thank the candidate for taking the time
“Thanks for taking the time. We will let you know the results soon” — this is a very obvious and a monotonous ending to most interviews.
Instead, show the candidate that you’re genuinely interested in her. If she is heading back to work or heading home, ask her if she knows the way to the nearest public transit. If the candidate has the rest of the day to herself, recommend a nearby café where she can have a good coffee. If the candidate has flown in for the interview, recommend her some places to visit and some good local restaurants.
Not only does this allow you to connect with a candidate on a more personal level, it also lets you highlight the benefits of working in the neighbourhood.
5. Provide actionable feedback
It is the responsibility of an interviewer to provide actionable feedback to the candidate. Regardless of the hiring decision you make towards a candidate, send a note to the candidate on areas they exceeded your expectations and things that they need to work on. If you decide to not extend an offer to the candidate, elaborate on why the decision was made.
Talent is four times more likely to consider your company for future opportunity when you offer them constructive feedback
— LinkedIn Talent Solutions, 2015 Talent Trends
Also provide feedback to the candidates to whom you are extending an offer. If there is a technical skill that you would like them to enhance, direct them to resources or online courses that can help them to strengthen their understanding. Also, extend your support to help them enrich their skills.
Ask candidates to provide any feedback about the interview. It helps you to work on making interviewing a better experience for your future candidates.
Remember that interviews are a two way street. By making candidates feel at ease you’re more likely to hire the best employee rather than the best interviewee. Use these tips to conduct better interviews and you will find in no time you have a more qualified work force.