In a tight hiring market like the Bay Area, companies are looking for an edge wherever they can find it. A dynamic interview process is a great way to establish that advantage.
The standard interview process looks something like this: Screen candidates through phone interviews. Invite the most promising ones in for an interview with the hiring manager and direct boss. Then invite the cream of the crop back for a final round of meetings.
That approach is straightforward, but it’s also uninspiring. Interviewing is an art form, especially if you’re the person asking the questions. Rather than follow the old interview playbook, BVOH encourages clients to really give thought to how they interview.
How To Improve Your Candidate Hiring Process
Here’s how to deliver a top-notch interview experience that makes candidates feel they must work for your company:
1. Think deeply about who needs to be in the room.
Before a candidate arrives, assemble a panel of interviewees who absolutely need to meet this person. The hiring manager and direct supervisor go without saying. But consider including some of the candidate’s potential colleagues as well. Who will they be supporting in this role? Their peers know the type of person who will perform well on their team, so they’ll ask insightful questions that reveal whether the candidate is a good fit.
2.Schedule conversational interviews with their peers.
In addition to including peers in the initial meeting, create opportunities for the candidate to meet colleagues in less formal settings. Send them out for coffee or lunch with their prospective co-workers so they can ask questions and develop a rapport with the team. Then survey the staff members who were at the lunch for their opinion on the candidate. What are their impressions? Did the candidate’s personality gel with the team? Did they ask interesting questions? Were there any red flags? Their feedback could prove useful in your hiring decision.
You may also want to invite someone who worked in the department previously but has since moved to another part of the company. They can talk about their experiences across departments and why they made the move, giving the candidate further insight into the organization. If your company has a policy of rotating employees to other departments to broaden their skills, make sure to highlight that program during the interview.
3. Show off your campus.
Nothing dulls people’s enthusiasm like cold, lifeless conference rooms and stale coffee. Electronic Arts conducts interviews in open-air settings and other friendly environments, and their conversations are fueled by fresh coffee, sodas, and juices. Things like beverage options and interview location may seem inconsequential, but they add to the overall impression the candidate has of the company. People walk out of EA buzzing with excitement about the prospect of working there, and that’s the experience you want to deliver as well.
Even if your campus is small, showcase its best features and amenities. Don’t cloister candidates in a single room; let them get the feel of the place. If you have a cafeteria, invite them to grab a bite to eat. Take a walk around the building to help them feel more comfortable in the environment. The goal is to help them forget they’re in an interview. People are more likely to give authentic answers when they don’t feel like they’re being interrogated.
4.Establish a workflow (and backups).
Plan the candidate’s meetings carefully, and assign pinch hitters who can step in if someone gets called out of town at the last minute. The details must be in place well before the interview date because canceling could cost you an excellent recruit.
When you ask to reschedule, they may fill the time with other interviews. And if another company makes a competitive offer before the candidate has met with you, chances are they’ll take the other job. They’ll see no reason to invest time and energy preparing for another interview when they already have a great offer on the table.
5. Involve HR.
Many managers wait until the offer stage to bring HR into the loop. But we recommend working with them from the outset because they can make you aware of requirements that will slow down the onboarding process if you don’t deal with them up front.
For instance, you may not be able to issue an offer letter until the candidate has submitted certain documents. You want to know about those things in advance so the hiring process doesn’t stall at a critical juncture.
6. Shorten your turnaround time on offers.
Issue offers within a maximum of two-three days after the final interview. Some companies present offers within one business day, which is commendable. But two-three days falls within the expected timeframe, so candidates are unlikely to become skittish if you connect within 48 hours. However, any longer is pushing it. People start questioning their qualifications and whether the job is the right fit, and they may start looking elsewhere.
Candidates tend to be most excited about whichever company they saw last, so you want to act as quickly as possible. You don’t want them taking a final round interview with another company while you scramble to put together an offer. Even a verbal commitment will suffice if you need time to organize the paperwork. The point is to demonstrate progress toward an official hire.
7. Create multiple points of contact ahead of the candidate’s start date.
Once a candidate accepts your offer, start the onboarding process immediately. A lot of managers call or email new hires to congratulate them and welcome them aboard. But there’s not much communication after that.
We often get calls from nervous candidates who want to know whether we’ve heard from their new employers. If they don’t hear anything, they might keep the door open on other jobs, and you do not want people taking interviews when they’re supposed to be committed to you.
Stoke their enthusiasm by having HR reach out and explain the onboarding process. Provide a schedule of when they’ll receive certain documents, when they’ll attend orientation, and other pertinent details that reassure them that they have the job.
Their managers should also get involved, either by grabbing coffee to get to know one another or sending over an article they’d like to discuss. Those simple touches spark dialogues and foster relationships, which eases candidates’ nerves ahead of their first day.
Some companies go so far as sending gifts to new hires. My wife’s company sent her a nice food basket when she started with them, and she found the gesture thoughtful and charming. A box of chocolates, bottle of wine, or another small gift goes a long way toward showing people you’re invested in them.
If you pay attention during their hiring interviews, people often reveal clues about their hobbies and interests that will help you choose a personalized gift. Not every company can afford such a gifting policy, but anything you can do to demonstrate your appreciation will make them feel valued.
Revamping your interview process can lead to better hires and increased talent retention. Get people excited about your company before they start working there, and that enthusiasm and commitment will carry over into their performance once they’re officially on board.