Many companies lose top talent due to a poor interview process.
Companies conduct interviews in the same way that they conduct business. Top talent knows what to look for in the interview process, so hiring managers should do the same. Below are 10 key tips to optimize the hiring process to attract top talent with a good interviewing process.
1. Do not treat candidates as mere applicants.
Top candidates know they are highly sought-after. They are regularly approached by recruiters or head-hunters and rarely apply to open jobs. Do not treat them as any other applicant; roll out the red carpet.
Respond to their inquiries and questions promptly. Be open and honest with them. If they are not a fit, or if hiring priorities change, let them know the real reasons why. In today’s fast-paced electronic world, news travels fast; if they are a highly respected professional in the industry, they will talk, and others will listen.
2. Respect their time.
Desired candidates are busy at their current company and do not have large windows of free time. Lengthy meetings during business hours are often convenient only for the hiring manager. Make the most out of their time. If they take time off to visit, be sure to make the most efficient use of their PTO with the line-up and meetings. Try to avoid multiple visits if possible. Use a virtual interview platform, if applicable. Virtual interviews save time, minimize scheduling hassles, and free up budget.
3. Train interviewers.
To land top talent, send the best. HR professionals with training in conducting interviews tend to ask robust questions to bolster excitement and engage the candidate’s interest. However, hiring managers and other interviewers may lack formal training in conducting an interview. Make training and resources available to interviewers well in advance, and present it as an employee development opportunity.
4. Make the most of each interview.
When possible, strive for a balance of interviewing styles, with a variety of personality types, interviewing experience, technical expertise, and tenure. A good strategy is to pair the candidate with a current employee who is succeeding in the role. An individual with energy, experience, and excitement around the opportunity promotes enthusiasm in the candidate, as well as giving legitimacy to the role.
A round-table discussion achieves many goals at once: it gets multiple interviewers on the same page and is an avenue for reviewing prepared questions, discussing interview strategy, and reducing haphazard preparation in busy departments where hiring managers are juggling multiple deadlines.
5. Prepare the interview environment.
The interview area will give the candidate a reasonable expectation of the company’s work environment. Candidates intentionally put themselves in hyper-observant mode and notice everything. Take a walk along the route an interviewee would take through the building, and observe the surroundings through their eyes.
Company perks—like a high-tech conference room, stunning office views, or trendy common area—should be on full display. Show off what makes the office unique and attractive.
6. Tailor the pitch.
Give each interviewee the courtesy of a personal approach. A list of 30 unoriginal interview questions grabbed hastily from a Google search will not only fail to impress, it will also waste the interviewer’s opportunity to build meaningful rapport. A good interviewer conveys that their hiring process involves thorough preparation.
Demonstrate that each candidate’s individual goals and interests are important to the company. How? Find out what is important to them, and then emphasize how the job will match those desires.
7. Tie everything back to career growth.
Top candidates do not change jobs, they make career moves. Most begin exploring new options in the pursuit of growth opportunities, often due to stagnant growth opportunities at their current employer. Explain in quantifiable terms how the position will benefit them beyond a mere paycheck. Hiring managers should have a detailed and compelling answer to the question, “Why would someone want this job?”
8. Listen more effectively.
Find out what this candidate cannot get from their current job, and then seek to highlight how this new role will meet those needs. Working with a recruiter is highly beneficial for this purpose. Candidates are generally more open to discussing career thorny points with a third party than during a formal interview. Professional candidates know better than to disclose the gory details about their current job in an interview, so avoid wasting time with transparent questions such as, “What do you dislike about your current manager?” Interviewees will easily sidestep with canned answers.
Ask inquisitive, open-ended questions to uncover a candidate’s motivators and goals. The goal is not to catch them off guard, rather to encourage the candidate to discuss their ideal work environment in frank terms. The details they omit are often useful clues to areas of dissatisfaction in their current jobs.
9. Time kills deals. Move quickly.
Candidates hear actions, not words. A prompt, efficient hiring process is evidence of the speed of daily business within the team. The most sought-after candidates stay busy. Time is money for candidates as well as for companies, and the time investment for a full interview cycle represents a substantial opportunity cost for them.
The length of the average hiring process nearly doubled from 12.6 days in 2010 to 22.9 days in 2014 (source: Forbes). Each of those extra 10 days is an opportunity for candidates to respond to interest from competitors, continue conversations with other recruiters, and discuss their interviews with family and mentors. All of this translates to dwindling interest in the role. In addition, most candidates are frustrated with the bureaucracy and red tape that slows them down today. Demonstrate your company moves fast and makes decisions quickly.
10. Keep momentum high in the final stretch.
After making a selection, close the deal on the new hire. Make them an attractive offer promptly. The sooner a company is able to commit, the more likely the candidate will sign on. Delays show doubt, especially near the end of the interview.
Do not allow the interview process to hinder obtaining top talent. Keep it short. Pay attention to details. Focus on meaningful ways that the company can meet the needs of top candidates. Many organizations are only interested in what a candidate can do for them. Companies who focus instead on how they can attract the best employees with a strong hiring process will naturally rise above their competition.
For personalized advice on improving a hiring process, contact [email protected].