Getting the Interview Process Right!

Posted by Harper Stephenson Posted at September 19, 2022 Posted in Interviewing Tips

(Written by Mark Whitaker – Director, Harper Stephenson Search)

Interview processes can be tough for both clients and candidates. After several years in recruitment I’ve seen companies miss out on great candidates by poor recruitment process, much of it avoidable. Much of the advice given below can be said to just common sense, but its certainly not applied when needed – and for companies who can create a strong, repeatable process – they have the advantage when it comes to hiring the best.

Decide early who needs to be in the interview process and who doesn’t
The hiring team should meet and plan with the recruitment team, to decide who *needs* to interview the candidates and who *might* be needed (in case there are doubts/questions about candidates). How many interview stages, depends on the role/seniority (obviously a CEO/Board Level role might need a more bespoke structure) but for most roles 2/3 interviews should be achievable. If you need to include several people in process, try and pair them in interviews – for example 2/3 people will interview a candidate together. You should decide who interviews the candidate at which stage, and stick to this for all the interviews, therefore creating a consistent process for all candidates.

Talk before about who will be evaluating what skills/experience in the interview, and tailor the questions
Each person in the interview process will be able to look and evaluate skills from their area of expertise. If you have 3 or 4 people assigned to the interview process, you can decided ahead of the interviews, who will be evaluating what skills, and what set questions they will ask of each candidate to evaluate those skills accurately.

Have a standard feedback form that can be completed by each interviewer
A lot of standard ATS systems have feedback forms, but each interview should get a standard feedback where they all answer the same questions, to give the views on how strong a match the candidate is for the role.

Ensure you are all on the same page
After a first set of interviews (minimum 3 or 4 interviews) the recruitment team can meet/gain feedback from the hiring team. This will cover positives/negatives about the candidates and identify whether any were a strong match. It can also help to identify whether any assumptions made before the process started were incorrect, for example is the targeted salary level wrong.

Keep candidates informed
It should go without saying, but in many cases candidates are lost as they are not kept informed on what is happening, and where they are in the process. This typically happens when companies end up interviewing several candidates for a role over a period of a few weeks at the first stage. The candidates who interviewed early in process are then kept waiting. This can be avoided by strong communication between the candidate and the recruitment team, explaining the reasons for any delays.

Know how keen your strong candidates are
For the recruitment team, they need to always be aware of how attractive the role is to strong candidates. There are lots of good articles out there on how to manage candidates through an interview process, but quite simply you don’t want to get to the end of an interview process only to find the star candidate doesn’t actually want the role. Engaging with the candidates, and asking the right questions, can avoid this.

Keep the process streamlined, and when a decision has been made, close quickly
Many interview processes can end up taking several months. This is because the interview process has not been decided upfront, the process is not streamlined or consistent and the hiring team is has not calibrated its interview feedback with the recruitment team. If a company ends up with 7/8 (or worse!) interview stages, and if they are not clear with feedback then its likely to result in problems. Once a decision has been made, you need to find out quickly what it will take to close the deal with your preferred candidate. Again, lots of other articles have been written on this, but if you engage with the candidate well and test how keen they are on the role and what it will take to get them to accept an offer, then you are more likely to get the result you want.

Overall, engagement between the recruitment team and hiring team is key here. Strong, open and honest communication will prevent a lot of problems and maximise the chances of getting a great candidate for the role!

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