How to run insightful interviews ...
.... that identify the best candidates
Too many companies go through the motions in relation to the interview process. It is a mistake and often a costly one.
According to a 2017 report from the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) UK businesses are failing to hire the right person for two out of five roles. The report calculates that the cost of a poor hire at mid-manager level with a salary of £42,000 can be more than £132,000! Recruitment fees, lost productivity, training etc all add up. So how should you approach the interview process to maximise your chances of getting the right person?
The mentality of successful employers
The best employers prioritise their interviewing process above everything else. They understand if they hire the right people they will create a culture where people want to work and where employees deliver against expectations. The result is that staff turnover is lower, management spends less time firefighting, they attract better people and the employer’s reputation grows making it easier and cheaper to attract the best talent around.
Structuring the interview process
Employers who attract the best candidates have a number of common elements in their interview processes. They:
- Set interview objectives: before the first candidate is even interviewed the hiring manager will set out the criteria (skills, experience, impact etc) all candidates are being assessed against for the role. Interviewers may even be given an assessment sheet to help maintain the focus of the interview. This ensures that every candidate is given a chance to show their suitability for the role and to make direct comparisons between candidates easier.
- Plan the interview process: to make the process as efficient as possible, minimising the risk of candidates accepting offers elsewhere, the best employers create a schedule at the start of the recruitment process and then stick to it. They identify who needs to be involved with which interviews and block out time in all those people’s diaries –as a candidate it is frustrating to hear “We want you to meet xxx before we make a decision but they are on holiday until…”.
- Every interview is prepared: interviewers do not simply pick the CV up off the photocopier on their way to the interview. They block time in their diary in advance of the interview to review each CV and compare it with LinkedIn profiles as well as identifying shared connections etc. They also make sure they are briefed about previous interviews so that they can focus time where it will be best spent.
- Every interviewer provides detailed feedback: as well as it being beneficial to fellow interviewers, candidates value and deserve feedback – after all they spend plenty of time preparing for and attending the interviews. The difference giving feedback makes to a company’s ability to hire is tangible. If a recruiter is able to tell a candidate why the employer wants to hire them it makes that offer considerably more attractive.
Similarly, periodically we see candidates miss out on a role but then be invited to apply for another role. If they had constructive feedback from the first interview process we find they are far more likely to consider another role with that employer.
Getting beyond the CV
A good interview uses the CV and job description as the starting point for the interview but drills down to understand a candidate’s suitability. Interviewers should be looking:
- To fill the gaps: there will often be gaps in a CV or discrepancies between the CV and the LinkedIn profile. Interviewers should explore these until they are comfortable.
- Determine accountability: some candidates will naturally write a good CV while others will fail to sell themselves. Similarly, some will talk a good game while others won’t do themselves justice. A good way around this is to dive deep into what they have done. Ask the candidate about their achievements and then ask them to be specific about their role in the process, the impact that they personally had and the impact that activity made… and then repeat this so you can build a pattern of behaviour.
- Make it practical: an in-tray exercise, technical exercise or case study can be revealing. These exercises need to be constructed with a specific purpose in mind but they often identify the best candidates rather than those who simply talk a good game.
The candidate mentality
A hard but fair interview process often makes an employer more rather than less appealing. The candidate will feel they have earned their offer and, equally important, that you have really considered their suitability for the role – you are hiring them warts and all. Knowing that you have confidence they can do the job and will fit into the team will reassure them that it is a good choice.
Putting all these elements together is far from easy, but the better you do each one the more likely you are to avoid hiring the wrong people.
For more help and guidance, download our free interview guidebook.
Clare Wight is managing director of Clarity appointments, a fellow of the Institute of Recruitment Professionals and a regional director for The Employment Agents Movement (TEAM). Her email is: firstname.lastname@example.org