Don't turn off top talent with your interview process!
If your goal is to attract and hire people with desirable skills and experience, it’s time to rethink interviews. Meeting with top candidates is a lost opportunity if your time is focused on rehashing their resumes and working through a list of tired questions.
When executed with thoughtfulness and care for the individual, an interview is your opportunity to not only assess and get to know the candidate but also showcase your people, your culture, and the organization’s vision.
Scenario 1: Multi-talented and highly sought-after Jane comes to your organization for an interview. She’s excited, ready to impress and wants to know if this potential move is right for her. She’s greeted by two people who don’t make eye contact and are intent in getting through their series of STAR questions. They spend most of their time firing off questions and writing down answers. No interaction, conversation, or responses – and definitely no time for Jane’s questions. Jane leaves the interview with no information about the company or culture and strikes them off her list.
Scenario 2: Mike is in the thick of interviewing with three competitive companies who desperately need his rare combination of skills. Company A and Company B take him through a standard interview process. Company C gets creative, because they want to know if Mike is a fit for them, and just as importantly, whether they are a fit for Mike. The first interview is a great conversation where Mike has ample opportunity to ask about the organization. The next week, Mike meets with the person who recently was promoted from the role. Down the road there’s a lunch and conversation with the team. Throughout this time, Mike is provided with updates, and the team are super-responsive to him. Without hesitation, Mike signs with Company C.
The candidates you’re excited about should leave the interview enthused and full of possibilities – envisioning themselves working with the people and doing the job. Interviews are about the people sitting on both sides of the table. And, if you’re open to really getting to know your candidates, there might not even be a table.
A solid hiring process is important for managing candidates and communications. However, each candidate deserves a positive experience where they're drawn in to your organization, rather than getting caught in the black hole of internal processes.
Don’t micromanage the interview
- Connect on a human level: Make eye contact, be friendly, use your regular voice. Find a connection, and speak to it (dogs, skiing, sausage rolls – can be big or small!). This person might be your next team member – be the same person you’ll be when they next meet you.
- Listen to understand: Write down the notes you need, but skip recording a verbatim transcript of the entire exchange. Focus on listening well, hearing the things that aren’t being said as well as those that are.
- Be curious: Ask more about comments that intrigue you or raise red flags. Learn more about a candidate’s skill set/knowledge as well as their character, values and interests by exploring different topics.
- Have a conversation: Candidates shouldn’t walk out feeling like they’ve just been interrogated by the authorities. Enjoy getting to know them by having a regular conversation. Let questions guide, but not confine, the conversation.
Get to know people
You screened the candidates and set up meetings with the people who qualify. Now you need to get to know them and determine who best fits this specific opportunity.
- Take a walk.
Conduct your next interview on a walk, over coffee, or running a couple of errands. Getting to know people outside of a quiet office environment is an invaluable opportunity to see how they treat others, how they solve problems in real life, and if you could envision working well together.
- Go off script
Standard questions get prepared answers. Allow for a real conversation and be ready to learn things you didn’t know to ask about!
- Show and tell
Wave your company flag proudly and show each candidate what you’re made of. Share enough information that they get to know you and gain an insider view of the organization. Show them around your space, too. Talking about office dogs is one thing, but getting to pet little Stanley and watch him chase his tail is a step into the inner circle.
Top talent have options. Don’t let a process get you crossed off their list.