I thought I'd also share a post of mine from back in February that was published on HCM Essentials about ways to interview for long-term hires:
Interviews are a critical part of the way we hire. By the time candidates make it to the interviewing stage of the application process, the company has invested significant time and resources in them, and the interviewing process is designed to be the last threshold for determining which ones will make the cut. Interviews are a fantastic way to get a feel for who applicants really are, what they care about, and how they’ll gel with the rest of the company. The only problem? Most interviewers have no idea what they’re doing.
Most people who walk into the room to interview a new candidate don’t go in with a strategy. They likely haven’t been trained on what to ask or even what to look for. They end up missing out on a huge opportunity for insights that could make the difference between the right hire and the wrong one. Here are five tips to ensure that your interview is helping you find the absolute best fit for your company.
1. If you’re looking for a long-term relationship, you’ve got to talk about the future.
Just like in romantic relationships, the success of professional relationships hinges on both parties being aligned about “where things are going.” For new hires, that means talking about a career trajectory right from the start. Retention starts the second a company engages with a new candidate, and laying out a desirable career path is a strong way to set things off on a positive note. This type of discussion serves two purposes: first, it sets the employee’s expectations, so that if the relationship does move forward you’re both on the same page about what it will look like—which might also make the difference between winning the hire or not. Second, it allows the interviewers to really flesh out the often intangible parts of the process that are clear indicators of fit, beyond basic skills and general values. Make sure to enter the interview with a clear concept of what this career path might look like, and set aside time to discuss it in full.
2. Have a clear, well-thought-out interview process in place.
The interview sets the tone for the rest of the relationship, and in a competitive talent market, first impressions are important. A streamlined interview process makes for a better candidate experience and instills confidence in the organization as a whole. It also makes the best use of your resources. In-depth technical testing is important, but can be a significant time investment for both the candidate and the company. Hiring screenings should be deliberately laid out so that the most basic come first, preventing any unpleasant realizations much later in the process when resources have already been expended. In most companies, this means that recruiters screen first, then hiring managers, then technical teams. Only then should the candidate be brought in for a round of onsite interviews and potentially given an offer.
3. Keep your interviewers balanced and consistent.
Everyone’s opinion varies. If you want to spend your interviewing process getting a feel for the differences in your candidates, rather than the differences in your current employees, your best bet is to keep your interview panel the same. You’re also going to want to make sure your interviewers represent all of the company’s varying interests. A well-balanced panel can assess candidate responses in their particular area of expertise, so your business ends up with a complete picture of the person. Of course, employee time is valuable, but failing to invest in a full interviewing panel could end up costing you far more. Minimize friction by standardizing the process as much as possible so employees can build sessions into their schedules and use their time effectively.
4. Give interviewers background in advance.
Another way to make the interviewing process more efficient? Prepping your interviewers with background information and even prepared questions before they walk in. Having that foundation ensures that they don’t waste time casting around for what to ask, and that they don’t overlook anything they might need in order to make a complete and fair assessment. Interviewers armed with data from the start can understand candidate responses in context and make better judgments as a result.
5. Test for skills.
Resumes aren’t reliable. Not only do people misrepresent themselves (a Career Builder study found that 58 percent of employers had caught applicants in lies), but the factual information provided may be a poor representation of the person’s merit. To truly understand a candidate’s capabilities, you have to experience them firsthand. For some roles, that might mean looking at a portfolio or sample of previous work, which is helpful, but even those samples could be skewed by being the result of collaboration with others. The best indicator of future performance is a skills-based test that will give you an unbiased sample to work with. Prepare some sort of challenge or examination that will give you a clear understanding of candidate ability, and you’ll have far greater likelihood of making a successful hire.
You want to hire people who epitomize your company’s values, not a simple checklist of career facts. You’re hiring people — not profiles. Find the people who will serve you best by taking the time to get to know them. It’ll pay off in the long run.