Everyone can interview badly.
That is an accepted fact. However, we rarely talk about the interviewer and how they may need to improve.
Even the most senior leaders in a company are capable of conducting bad interviews.
In fact, by being bad interviewers these executives can do damage to a company’s reputation, not to mention inadvertently lose potential talent.
Of course, senior leaders have a ton on their minds and plates. But, by incorporating a few key guidelines into their style, they can make improvements to the process, and in turn help to retain maximum brand reputation. One of the simplest interview techniques starts with caring for the candidate and remembering they are at the absolute center of the process.
How executives treat the candidate through the interview process has incredible impact on a company’s ability to gain and retain top talent in the future. Take Google : they have suffered due to their lack of candidate care. One candidate on Glassdoor.com found “the staff was condescending and less than engaged in their jobs.” One of the interviewers was so “condescending” that a candidate “had decided not to take any offer given the approach.” On the flip side, a Zappos candidate reported interviewers to be “warm, inviting and considerate of candidate's time.”
Think back to the last person you interviewed: did you treat the candidate as you would want to be treated? Were you late? Did you start to check email? Fiddle with your Blackberry? Can you even recall the questions you asked, or theirs?
In this era of tech attention deficit disorder, we need to remember the human element and care for our candidates. It’s not as difficult as it seems:
- Be on time. Making a candidate wait for you doesn’t make you look important; it makes you look rude and uncaring
- Say “please” and “thank you”; let them know you’re glad they could make it
- Don’t check your email or Blackberry
Beyond these basics, here’s a refresher on how to up your candidate care standard:
1. LEVEL THE PLAYING FIELD
Please don’t judge in advance. Judging your candidate prior to meeting them muddies the conversation. If they’ve already made it through the resume cut and presumably a prior meeting with your Talent manager then remain open-minded. You never know who your next rising star will be. Would the candidate be fortunate to work at your company? Sure. But, it’s the flip side that’s important, would your company be lucky to have this person work for them? The reality is you probably won’t decide until the end of the interview process so begin every interview with a clean slate. Avoid comparison to other candidates. Focus on the skills and attributes the role requires. Ask the same qualifications-focused questions to all candidates. If the conversation expands as a result of this, fantastic. But start with the same level of respect for all.
2. LET THEM SPEAK
As senior managers, you like to share your vision of the company or the position you are recruiting for. But it’s difficult to effectively assess a candidate if they haven’t had a chance to speak. If you’re doing all the talking, the candidate will probably learn a great deal, which is good. However, they may also learn how you want them to respond, which is not helpful. Don’t let them get away without having asked their questions: there is value in this part of the interview and you can learn their key concerns, drivers, even weaknesses at this time.
Ask open ended questions and actively listen to the answers. An experienced interviewee should always try to give you what you need to know, not what you want to hear.
3. GET REAL
If senior leaders want to glean meaningful information, it’s crucial to ask meaningful questions. Ask for specific examples of work and action; never settle for mantras. Push candidates to tell you how they’ve lived and acted on their beliefs. Don’t ask what they would do; ask candidates what they have done, and whether they would have done something different in retrospect. This technique ensures you receive real information, not just flowery sound bites.
4. BE HONEST
Interviewers need to provide feedback at the end of the conversation. Tell candidates what you like about their experience as well as any concerns you might have. You need to voice what the next steps will be and who they can expect to hear from next.
It’s not difficult to care for candidates as long as you remember these simple guidelines. It’s not about you, the interviewer. The process is all about the candidate. Once the candidate is at the core of the interviewing experience, your company shines and the opportunity to gain another eager, talented rising star for your organization will increase immensely.
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