The interview stage of the hiring process is perhaps the most important part of the process (with the possible exception of the offer stage). However, it’s critical to remember that it’s important not just for the candidates, but also for the employer.
Because while it’s the stage during which a candidate can be screened out of the process by the employer, it’s also the stage during which the employer can be screened out of the process by the candidate.
Some company officials and/or employees have a “mental block” of sorts when it comes to considering candidates for their organization’s open positions. Since they work for the organization, they sometimes can’t fathom why somebody else would NOT want to work for it.
This sort of employment bias, while not surprising or out of the ordinary, can have unforeseen consequences. This is especially the case during the interviewing stage of the hiring process. That’s because some of these company officials and/or employees believe, subconsciously or otherwise, that there’s only one decision that has to be made: whether or not they want to hire the candidate.
In actuality, there are two decisions that must be made:
- Whether or not company officials want to make an offer of employment to a candidate
- Whether or not a candidate would accept that offer if it was made
Just because an offer of employment is made to a candidate, there is NO guarantee that the candidate will accept the offer! This is a simple truth of the employment marketplace. Failure to identify, accept, and accommodate this truth has been a painful experience for quite a few organizations.
A tale of hiring woe “from the trenches”
All of this leads us to a story, one of the many stories that recruiters hear about “in the trenches.” Not only do recruiters have their own stories, but they also hear tales of hiring woe from other search consultants. All of them are instructive, both for recruiters and their clients.
In this particular story, a candidate was interviewing at a potential new employer. During the interview process, one of the company officials made the following comment: “We don’t always pay our bills, but don’t worry, you will get paid!”
There are many problems associated with this comment. Here are just a few:
- Regardless of whether the comment is based in fact, the comment is inappropriate. Even if the person was “joking,” this is not an acceptable setting.
- This begs the following question: how did this person come to be part of the interview stage of the hiring process in the first place?
- As you might imagine, the candidate left the interview very much concerned about the organization, especially its financial viability.
This brings us to what is quite possibly the most overlooked part of the interview stage of the hiring process:
Make sure that the people who are conducting the interviews for your organization know how to interview!
Why this issue is often overlooked
Of course, there are many factors that influence who within the company is part of the interviewing stage. Depending upon the position that is being filled, the people involved could include:
- The person’s possible supervisor
- The person’s co-workers if they were to be hired
- People from other departments who might work with the new employee
- High-ranking company officials like the CEO or CFO
These people are chosen to interview the candidate for specific reasons, all of which are more than likely good reasons. They will have direct (or indirect) interaction with the candidate if they’re hired. As a result, their input is valuable and will ultimately have an impact on the final decision.
But once again: do they know how to conduct a face-to-face interview? Do they know the right things to say and the wrong things to say? If they don’t, then it doesn’t matter how closely they’ll be working with the new employee or how important their input is. They could conceivably say or do something that will convince the candidate to dismiss the organization as an option in their job search.
The problem is that not all organizations give this aspect of the interview stage much thought, if any at all. Then comments are made like the comment from the story above, and the company loses a great candidate because the candidate thinks the organization is having money problems. (Even if the company is on sound financial footing!)
Steps for avoiding this mistake
How you present yourself as an organization to candidates is at least as important as how they present themselves to you. Candidates, especially top candidates, are trying to decide if working for your organization is a wise career move. If you are looking for reasons to screen out candidates during the interview, then you can bet that they’re looking for reasons to screen out your organization.
With all of this in mind, here are some steps that companies can take to help ensure that they don’t make this critical mistake:
- Identify everybody who will be part of the interviewing stage.
- Gauge their knowledge of the interview stage and whether or not they know how to conduct an effective interview.
- Provide training to those who need it, so that the interview stage serves to attract and engage all candidates who participate in it.
Does it sound like a lot of work? Yes, it does. But missing out on top talent and great candidates can also be a lot of work. It can also be frustrating and cost the company money in lost productivity over time.
When you have the opportunity to hire top candidates—those who will make a real difference within your organization—you can’t leave anything to chance. You can’t take anything for granted. You can’t assume that the candidate automatically wants to work for your organization.
You have to attract and engage those candidates, and then you must convince them that working for you is the best move that they could make at this point in their career!
We help support careers in one of two ways: 1. By helping to find the right opportunity when the time is right, and 2. By helping to recruit top talent for the critical needs of organizations. If this is something you would like to explore further, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.