Talent Acquisition

How to Run an Effective Interview Process

So far, we’ve discussed the overall recruitment process and the role a recruiter should play in the process.

In this post, I’ll give an overview of what businesses should be considering going into a recruitment process and in turn, how to maximise what they get out of said process.

  • The goal of the Process
  • Job Description;
  • Interview Process, Feedback, and Testing;

The goal of the interview process

The goal of most recruitment processes and, in turn, the interview process are usually very similar:

  • Identify the best person for a specific position;
  • Evaluate candidates against a set of technical and behavioral criteria to remove as much uncertainty as possible;
  • Make an informed hiring decision that will be the best fit for the specific role, overall business culture, and the future employee;

I’ll go into a little more detail on each in the sections below however thought it worthwhile highlighting at the start.

Job Description

From a hiring manager’s point of view, a job description is very much like a cheat sheet in a timed exam at university. That is, the process of putting the job description together yields the most benefit, rather than necessarily the end document.

Writing everything down and challenging each point is a great way to work out:

  • What experience is essential for this position?
  • What would be great to have but could live without if the candidate is strong in other areas?
  • What would be nice to have?

From a candidate’s point of view, it helps them:

  • Understand what the job is and where it fits into the business;
  • Identify potential areas of concern in their own experience;
  • Identify growth potential within the job;
  • Decide if they really want the job;

Most importantly, a job description allows you to, at least, start meeting the first two goals of the interview process.

One other point in writing a good job description is to consider your target audience. If the perfect candidate was reading it and knew nothing about the position apart from what is included in the report, would they think it was an excellent opportunity?

Interview Process, Feedback, and Testing

Unless you are recruiting for a short-term temporary position, my view is that for the majority of roles, running at least a 2-stage process is a good idea, and where possible, have those interviews with a gap of a few days.

Putting space between the first interview and either an offer or a second interview is much like a cooling-off period when you buy a car or a house. It gives everyone the opportunity to get comfortable with the decision and reduces any associated buyer remorse.

Moving on.

To minimize the impact if someone turns down a job offer, you always want to have 2 or 3 people at different stages of the process that you can see yourself hiring.

At each stage of the process, be that one or more interviews, you really need to:

  • Assess the candidate’s technical capability;
  • Assess the candidate’s organizational fit;
  • Present candidates with the training and development opportunities of working for your business;
  • Give candidates an insight into the working culture within the business;

Good candidates are in high demand, so if the place your work looks less like Google and more like a small accounting firm, you need to spend time making sure candidates know all the great things about working for your business and why it is better than the next best available alternative.

By the end of each round of interviews, you should have a clearer idea of the following:

  • Whether you could hire someone;
  • What concerns, if any, do you have about each candidate so you know what to focus on in future interviews;

What is equally vital in the initial stages of a process is to relay timely feedback to candidates, regardless of if you are progressing with them or not, for the following reasons:

  • Candidates who are exiting the process have set aside a considerable amount of time to meet you, and giving them something to take away from the process will help ensure they exit with a positive impression of you and the business;
  • Candidates who are progressing will make an effort to address the areas of concern and will alert you to experiences they may have otherwise thought irrelevant;
  • Allowing candidates to address areas of concern will provide you with more information to make a decision and, in turn greater confidence in your hiring decision;

Psych testing is becoming more and more common and is done for a few different reasons:

  • Personality test – to help determine the best management style for people;
  • Numerical/verbal reasoning – helps to hire manager understand candidates problem-solving ability;

There are others; however, those are the main ones.

Most businesses will complete the test at the end of a process to help understand how to manage a future employee best. Performance on these tests is an excellent indicator of job performance for other companies, so they form a crucial part of the process.

If it is the former, it is best to complete the test at the end of the process because you have, for all intents and purposes, made your decision. If it is the latter, save yourself some time and find a short, inexpensive test that you can put all candidates with whom you are interested in meeting.

One final point is that if you are working for a less-known business or recruiting for a junior position, it is worthwhile to get candidates to meet 1 or 2 peer-level staff to give them a better feel for the culture.

By having clear goals for each stage of the interview process, providing feedback throughout, allowing some time for people to evaluate the opportunity properly, and running relevant tests at the right time, you will:

Give yourself the best chance of hiring the right person for the right position and minimize the chances someone will accept a job from which they will resign after six months.

By Peter Kibble

Peter Kibble studied Organisational Psychology and Commerce at the Australian National University and is the Director of Ford Peterson, a specialist accounting and finance recruitment business in Sydney. Prior to starting Ford Peterson he was one of the highest performing consultants for an international recruitment business, successfully recruiting executive level positions for some of Australia’s leading organisations.