One piece of feedback that we regularly receive from candidates is that they can often feel dissatisfied with their treatment during the interview process. Despite the spike in jobseekers resulting from COVID-19, not everyone on the market is going to be high-quality and the competition for the very best people is still fierce. Consequently, it’s imperative for employers to remember that it isn’t just us interviewing the candidates, but also the candidates assessing whether they wish to work with us and our organisation.
During COVID-19 Alert Level 2, where interviews are often held by Zoom, Teams or Skype, it is just as important to ensure that you are making the right impression. Regardless of whether you are interviewing over video or face-to-face; if you connect with the candidate and they feel they truly understand the opportunity, your chances of them saying “yes” to your role when faced with multiple offers increases dramatically.
It’s also important to keep in mind that just because a candidate isn’t right for a particular role, it doesn’t mean they won’t be right for another position within your organisation or even a future role a few years down the track when they’re more senior. The impression you make on them will shape their view of the wider organisation (not to mention what they choose to share with others in the market) – so make it a great one.
So, how do you ensure that candidates feel engaged and respected throughout the interviewing process? Here are my top tips:
- Notify candidates of key details prior to the interview, such as who will be on the panel and, if it’s a video interview, any software/equipment they will need.
- Let the candidates know what type of interview it will be (behavioural, competency-based, a combination of the two or something different) – that way they can be really well prepared and not surprised by an unanticipated approach.
- For a video interview, think about the background behind you and make the interaction is as personable as possible, check your tech is working properly and have a backup contact method ready in case you have any problems.
- Be on time (or online) for the interview to start – making a candidate wait past the scheduled start time is going to make a poor first impression.
- Introduce the panel (including each person’s title and relationship to the role) and warmly welcome the candidate at the start of the interview.
- Begin with an overview of how the interview will run and what to expect.
- Lead with a warm-up question, such as why they are interested in the role or something similar, that allows them to relax a little, rather than launching into a challenging behavioural or competency question.
- Smile and engage with the candidate throughout the process, and give them guidance on whether you require more information or less.
- Ensure that you don’t have too many questions for the time allowed for the interview.
- - Let aside time for the candidate to ask you questions in return. Be prepared to talk about the current team culture, what you want that culture to look like in the future, perceptions of your organisation, flexibility around working remotely or hours, your management style, interesting projects the person may be working on, social aspects of the team, what you need this person to bring to the team, opportunities to grow within the organisation and anything else that you feel would be beneficial for the candidate to know before they join the organisation.
- - Everyone should be very clear on where the salary sits before the interview so that the candidate is not caught off guard. You’d be amazed how often we hear that the first time the salary has been discussed is at the offer stage. Unsurprisingly, this can lead to the offer being rejected when the distance between what the candidate is expecting and what is offered is too large. If you are aware of the candidate’s expectations prior to the interview and you are unable to meet that, the conversation needs to be had before inviting them to an interview.
- - Thank the candidate for their time, let them know what the process will be going forward and when they can expect to hear back from you with your decision. Ensure that you keep to the promised timeframe or give them an update if anything changes.
- - If they are unsuccessful, give them some helpful feedback.
- - If they are successful, keep the process moving as quickly as possible. Ensure you can get a contract in front of them in a timely manner once a verbal agreement has been reached.
At the end of the day, putting in a little extra effort to make candidates feel respected and valued during the interview will help to keep them engaged, uphold the reputation of your business and, ultimately, ensure you have your pick of the best people in the market.
In the midst of this challenging climate, we are continuing to build our candidate networks and identify the best talent, so if you have a hard-to-fill role or have run your process and are not happy with the quality of the candidates you have received, please give us a call.