Many hiring managers think of the in-person interview as a meeting where it is the candidate’s responsibility to impress them. However, an effective hiring cycle is a process that starts with attracting applicants, followed by identification of candidates, evaluation, selection, and acceptance. In a candidate-driven market, a hiring manager must also impress the candidate, because the best candidates do not need to make a move.
Set up a pre-interview call with their recruiter.
Hiring an employee is a huge investment of money. Most interviews last only an hour or so, which doesn’t give the hiring manager much time to make such an important decision. Never waste time during an interview by asking basic questions that a recruiter can answer. A day or so before the interview, spend time on the phone with the recruiter to gather details about the candidate. Cover all logistical information such as salary expectations, relocation, and potential resignation difficulties.
Questions to cover during this call:
- Why do they want to make a move?
- What are they lacking in their current job?
- Why this firm?
- What concerns do they have?
- What is most important for them to learn?
Look at the physical office space through their eyes.
What will the candidate see when they walk into the building? Is the space dated or cluttered? Just as a candidate’s outfit should create a professional first impression on the interviewer, the physical office space should create a professional first impression on the candidate. Use the office space to sell the candidate on the job. Reserve the best conference room available, and showcase selling points such as new technology or state-of-the-art workspaces. Make sure that clutter is out of the way and that the office is on its best display.
Greet them warmly when they arrive.
Prep all staff to receive the candidate warmly and professionally – few things are more disorienting to a candidate than a receptionist who was not expecting them and has to fumble to figure out where to send them. While some firms ask candidates to fill out forms when they arrive for an interview, try to minimize paperwork, as it eats up valuable interview time. Expect them to arrive 5 to 15 minutes early and be prepared accordingly.
When they arrive, offer them bottled water, coffee, or tea. Instead of having the receptionist send them to find the office through an unfamiliar building, walk down to meet them personally. Make pleasant small talk on the way up to the office, and compliment them on something. The interview should be in an office or private conference room, and all devices should be switched off or silenced. Have their resume printed out and a notepad ready for jotting down a few notes.
It is a nice gesture to give the candidate some printed materials to review after the interview, or even some small company-branded items.
Balance talking and listening.
In interviews, the person who does the most talking usually has the most positive impression of how the interview went. Aim for a 50/50 balance of talking versus listening.
Resist making a snap judgement in the first 3 minutes, which is the time that the subconscious usually kicks in to make a “gut decision.” Open with some friendly selling points about the job and the company that the candidate may not have discovered during their research, and avoid the temptation to open with hard-hitting questions. Stay positive, and get a complete understanding of the candidate’s history, work style, and accomplishments. Have a strategy and an outline of which questions to ask.
Salary is best discussed through the recruiter. Verify the candidate’s current compensation if necessary, but do not negotiate in the early stage. The candidate does not yet know if they want the job. The point of this meeting is to gather information and to make the candidate want the job.
At the end of the interview, clearly articulate the next steps and the timeline. Follow up with the recruiter within an hour of the end of the interview to discuss how it went.
The overall point of the hiring cycle is to decide whether a candidate is a good fit for the organization, but the goal of an interview is to make the candidate want the job. A hiring manager might get all the information that they need to make a decision, but if the interview turns the candidate off, there is no chance of a hire. Presenting the job in the most positive light will attract the best candidates and encourage a high level of motivation from day one.
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