We believe the traditional interview process is broken, and we admit, we spend way too much time thinking about how to make it better. Interviewing is in our DNA, and we want to help companies reimagine the way they identify and evaluate top talent. From our experience, we’ve learned that the following eight steps will help to give any organization a top-notch interview process:
- Offer careers, not jobs
- Structure your interview process
- Emphasize competencies over qualifications
- Align the hiring team
- Calibrate for speed
- Invest in the candidate experience
- Be real (warts and all)
- Cultivate a recruiting culture
Below, we break each of these eight rules down one-by-one:
1. OFFER CAREERS, NOT JOBS
Start with a great job description.
Most companies advertise jobs, not careers. Alternatively, what if your job description became a comprehensive explanation of the the challenges this person will face in the role, the skills he or she will develop in the role and the way the position will evolve over time? A job is a set of duties that meet today’s needs, but a career is a dynamic learning experience with unlimited potential. Top talent demands careers, and by highlighting careers instead of jobs, you will stand out from the crowd and attract exceptional talent.
Emphasize career development at every step.
This starts with the job description and continues throughout the interview process. If you want to hire top talent, you have to make career development an integral part of your organization and interview process.
2. STRUCTURE THE INTERVIEW PROCESS
Interview with purpose.
Great companies interview with purpose and structure their process to maximize effectiveness. A structured and standardized process not only ensures your organization is compliant, but it also makes the entire interview experience more productive for everyone involved.
Start with the intake meeting.
Vanilla Ice may not have been singing about the interview process when he sang, “Stop, Collaborate and Listen,” but he was spot on. A great interview process starts with taking the time upfront to get on the same page with the entire hiring team with a well planned intake meeting. When hiring managers are forced to sit down with recruiters to flush out the core competencies of the role and map out the interview process, everything downstream becomes much easier.
Automate all non-critical activities.
Constantly look for ways to automate repetitive and administrative tasks whenever possible. This will allow you to focus your recruiting skills toward more value-add activities.
A well-designed interview kit can help.
Implementing an interview kit will really help your team to stay focused on what’s important and ensure everyone is speaking the same language. Interview kits look different from company to company, but the critical elements are the same: a documented interview plan, key stakeholders that will participate during each stage, interview questions to ask at each stage and a scorecard for evaluating the candidate based on the competencies for the role.
3. EMPHASIZE RESULTS OVER PEDIGREE
Be on the lookout for great talent everywhere.
Companies that put an emphasis on a candidate’s on-the-job results (e.g. closed the company’s first six-figure deal and led the sales team in terms of quota) over their job qualifications (e.g. 3-5 years of sales experience), have a real competitive advantage in identifying and attracting top talent at their organizations. The End of Average by Todd Rose highlights how Google restructured its interview process by eliminating its traditional method of hiring high-ranked Ivy League grads from top-tier companies and moving to a performance-based model. This realigned the organization around results and candidate motivation versus pedigree. The shift has widened its candidate pool and helped to ensure that the company truly hires the best talent available.
4. ALIGN THE HIRING TEAM
Scorecards ensure everyone is speaking the same language.
Once your interview process is planned out, it’s time to create a scorecard for the position to ensure everyone is evaluating the candidate on the same criteria. Your hiring team needs clear documentation and a simple framework for evaluating talent. A simple scorecard reinforces what is most important and ensures everyone is speaking the same language.
Close the loop quickly.
Immediate feedback from the hiring team post interview is essential. With each passing day that goes by, critical information blurs together or is lost entirely, especially when you are interviewing candidates back-to-back. It’s essential to gather feedback within 24 hours of the interview occurring to ensure you gather what’s most impactful.
5. CALIBRATE FOR SPEED
Implement fewer, more impactful steps.
Your interview process should be structured for speed, with only the minimum number of steps necessary to make an effective hire. Then, the emphasis should be to make each stage as impactful as possible. Great companies move quickly and only have a few, very impactful steps in their process, allowing them to identify top talent quicker and hire faster than their competition.
6. INVEST IN THE CANDIDATE EXPERIENCE
Avoid the black hole.
Most candidates complain about starting an interview process, only to fall into the all-too-common “black hole” and never hear back. We get it. Recruiters are busy and don’t have time to close the loop with candidates. This will always be the case, so you need to start looking for ways to automate as much of the candidate communication as possible. When you take an action in your ATS, does it update your candidate with relevant correspondence? That’s where it needs to be.
Interviewing should be a give-and-take relationship.
In most cases, an interview process is simply take, take, take on the side of the company, resulting in a terrible candidate experience. The goal should be for candidates to be learning throughout your interview process – learning more about your company, the role, the challenges that will need to be solved and the company culture. You have a captive audience. It’s time to start engaging and educating them!
7. BE REAL (WARTS AND ALL)
Be transparent with your candidates.
Many companies try to hide all their quirks and the challenges that a new employee will face. Full transparency seems scary, and it’s always easier just to highlight what you think the candidate wants to hear. Nevertheless, the most successful hiring teams embrace the good, the bad and the ugly, and strive to give candidates an accurate depiction of the company and position.
Zappos is a great example of a company that does an outstanding job of being themselves without asking for forgiveness. When candidates engage with Zappos, they know exactly what the company stands for, what their culture is like and what the role will entail. And many of their candidates actually say “these guys are definitely not for me”, which the recruiting team loves to hear because it means one less unqualified candidate bogging down their process. By being real, it helps eliminate the wrong candidates while attracting the right candidates that will be jazzed up to work for your company.
8. CULTIVATE A RECRUITING CULTURE
Hiring top talent is a team sport.
For an organization to have a transformative recruiting process, the importance of recruiting top talent must permeate the company culture. Everyone plays a role in recruiting great talent, from the recruiter to the hiring manager to the CEO of the company. It’s talent acquisition’s job to educate and build awareness so that hiring becomes a team sport.