Revamping the Interview Process Means Prioritizing Candidates for Success

Today’s labor market has been trending positive, with 339,000 jobs added in May, but coming out of the pandemic, employees are reevaluating their priorities and seeking more fulfillment in their professional and personal lives. In a Greenhouse survey of 1,500 employees last year, nearly half of all respondents reported rejecting job offers after negative interview experiences. Some of the worst include employers trying to schedule nine rounds of interviews or requesting extensive unpaid work.

Your interview and hiring process is your candidates’ first impression of your company.  By streamlining the process, companies can ensure the impression is a good one—and secure the best candidate for the job every time.

Before posting an opening, employers should review and update their job descriptions to accurately reflect the required skills and experience, avoiding outdated or unnecessary requirements. For instance, consider whether specialized advanced training is genuinely necessary or if certain requirements may unintentionally exclude excellent candidates. The best way for employers to ensure they get a candidate who has the right skills and will add to the culture is to meet with their team to ask what skills they most value in a colleague. This also gives you the time to reflect on what skills have led to successful candidates in the past and which look better on paper than in practice.

Once qualified candidates apply, a clear interview process will make the best use of your time and theirs. Consider implementing panel interviews, which involve multiple interviewers in the room or on a video call. This approach ensures all members of the hiring committee have access to the same information about each candidate, eliminating potential miscommunication or repetition of questions. Panel interviews also save candidates from having to repeat themselves, making the process less frustrating and discouraging, particularly for top talent.

Scheduling multiple rounds of interviews within a short time frame—around 1 to 2 weeks—allows for a prompt hiring decision and enables other candidates to move forward in their job search. It’s also important to inform candidates promptly when they aren’t being considered and send personalized e-mails to express appreciation for their time and efforts.

In the interview itself, interviewers should create a structured interview guide around the job description that evaluates the skills, experience, and competencies of each candidate. In addition, without proper planning, you may fall back into what’s comfortable, which can lead to unconscious bias that leads to snap judgments based on appearance or other factors that can perpetuate a lack of diverse representation in your organization.

If skill assessments or assignments are part of the interview process, respect candidates’ time by keeping the assessments concise and relevant to the skills being tested. Clearly communicate the expected time commitment, and, if feasible, consider compensating candidates for their efforts to demonstrate the value placed on their contributions.

It’s also important to ask questions that illuminate soft skills. Behavioral interview questions can help you predict candidates’ future performance, how they respond to stress and conflict, and how they work in a team. When it comes to a positive and efficient work environment, these skills can go a long way and are sometimes more difficult to teach than a new platform or other more concrete skills.

At every stage of the interview process, inclusivity is essential to foster a workforce that is diverse in ethnicity, ability, age, and experience. Making the process more inclusive starts with bringing together a diverse group of interviewers on the hiring committee, particularly if you’re using a panel interview. It also means sharing and asking for pronouns, using the elevator rather than taking the stairs, and providing breaks between meetings for people to take a mental and personal break. These small changes can accommodate people with different abilities that may not be visible to an interviewer at first glance.

Anyone who has gone through the interview process knows how stressful and time-consuming it can be. As the interviewer, you have the opportunity to acknowledge this and structure the process so it’s as productive and expedient as possible for everyone involved.

Rather than being alarmed by a competitive job market, companies can seize the opportunity to revamp their interview processes to attract and hire skilled candidates who align with their culture. Employers need to get clear on who they are looking for and tailor their interview process to ensure they are attracting and hiring candidates who meet those criteria. But most importantly, they need to ensure they are prioritizing the candidates along the way, as well. Companies can use this as an opportunity to reflect on their current hiring process and be intentional to ensure they create a great experience for their candidates—and future employees.

Jessica Gross is a marketing leader with over 10 years of experience in marketing strategy, customer research, writing, and project management. As a Director of Marketing at Aquent, she leads brand strategy and marketing communications initiatives, including positioning and messaging, website and blog content, and marketing campaigns.

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