The people you choose to interview job candidates have about an 85 percent chance of swaying those candidates’ opinions about the job, for better or for worse. Think about that for a minute. In a job market in which your company needs top talent more than they need you, your interviewers—how prepared, appropriate, welcoming, responsive and professional they are—dramatically affect whether a job offer is accepted. How confident are you that your designated interviewers are putting your company’s best face forward?
“People shop for jobs these days. They don’t simply apply and hope,” says talent acquisition expert Graeme Johnson. “We need to accept the fact that they hold at least 50 percent of the power during the entire process—every touchpoint counts.”
Over the years, Google has been notorious for their over-the-top interviewing process, subjecting job candidates to dozens of interviews with panels upon panels of people before making a hire. But they recently discovered something remarkable. They found that four interviews (or interviewers) best predict whether someone should be hired. Adding more people or interviews did not significantly increase a team’s ability to make a successful hire. Plus, this “Rule of Four” (as they call it) greatly improved the candidate experience. It reduced the average time-to-hire by about two weeks, has saved employees hundreds of thousands of hours in interviewing time, and has helped reduce the already stressful process for candidates.
So, if four interviewers are what’s needed, who should those interviewers be? While every company and situation may be different, consider the following four personas first.
- A friendly tour guide:
Forbes contributor Liz Ryan insists that—above all—a candidate needs someone who can be friendly and helpful right out of the gate and throughout the process. In fact, she outlines an initial interview game plan that includes being proactively helpful with an email confirming the details of the interview and directions, a warm greeting at the door when they arrive, and an interview forum that allows the candidate to ask more questions than the interviewer.
- Someone like them:
At some point, it can be a great idea to involve peers in the interview process. As Monster.com points out, peer-to-peer interviewing can give job candidates a better idea of what their job will entail and what the company culture is like from the colleagues that will be in the weeds with them daily. Of course, this can go south fast if your employees aren’t pleased with the situation or the company culture. If involving peers in the interview process exposes weaknesses, take the opportunity to fix those problems. Doing so will help improve employee retention as well.
- A rule follower:
Now that the candidates feel at ease, it’s time to get down to business. A smooth interview process involves knowing what questions can and can’t be asked (for instance, employers in a growing number of states can’t ask about salary history). It also includes when and how to administer an assessment or personality test that actually helps (not all do), and how to proceed with the hiring and onboarding process that delights (not disgusts) the new hire. Many employers shy away from involving HR in face-to-face interviews, but doing so can help keep the process running smoothly and legally.
- Someone unexpected:
Many companies have stumbled upon unique ways to uncover true candidate motivations and working styles. How you proceed in this direction depends on your company culture and the positions being filled. Management coach Lawrence Miller screens coaching candidates by bringing them in as groups and then asking them to interview each other, grade each other, and recommend someone else for the job (with an explanation on why that person is a fit). This type of pressure-cooker environment makes sense, given the role these business management coaches are being asked to fill. Other companies routinely involve support staff like a receptionist, intern or janitor to participate in management interviews. If the job involves instilling confidence and building camaraderie and trust from the top down, gaining this perspective could be very valuable.
If you’re not sure you’re striking the right chord with your interviewers, why not enlist the help of a recruiting firm? We can consult with you at the beginning of the process on how your interviews should be conducted and who should be involved. Then, after interviews take place, we can follow up with our recruits and ask them to evaluate their experience. The knowledge you’ll gain with just a little due diligence can help you polish up your interview process until it outshines the rest.
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