It’s easy to forget as an interviewer, about the time and energy candidates put into preparing for their interview with you. It’s likely that their preparation will involve many, or all of the following:
On top of this, most job-seekers will be trying to manage their nerves as well. Generally speaking, most of us don’t interview too frequently, so the interview experience can be pretty daunting.
Interviews are a two-way street —particularly in this candidate-short market. They are of course, designed for you as the employer to assess the suitability of the candidate for your vacant role. Interviews are also a key opportunity for the candidate to assess if they would like to work for your business. Making sure the interview experience you provide to potential employees is up to par, is just as important as the candidate being prepared.
In my role, I’ve heard the good, the bad and the ugly from candidates about interviews they’ve taken part in. Here are the top five most commonly mentioned issues, that are easy to avoid or fix. Doing so will have a hugely positive impact on your candidate experience.
This may not seem hugely important, but trust me, it is. First impressions say a lot about your company. If a candidate walks into your office for an interview, and people are walking through the reception area avoiding eye contact and ignoring them, it doesn’t scream ‘this is a friendly, great place to work’. Unfortunately, candidates tell me this happens on a regular basis.
There are easy ways to avoid this issue. If your reception is unattended, let the candidate know “We don’t have a receptionist, so when you get here for your interview, sign in, then take a seat and I will come to collect you”. It’s also a great idea to give your team a heads-up, i.e. “we are interviewing people today so there will be potential new team members coming in at 11am and 2pm. Let’s make sure they feel welcome.” Everyone is busy working, and sometimes people assume visitors have been greeted by someone else, so advance notice can be beneficial.
This should be an easy one to address – communication, communication, communication! Sometimes the complete interview process takes time. It’s not unusual for the first interviewee to have had a three week wait, by the time you have wrapped up all your interviews. If this waiting period is punctuated by deafening silence from your end, you can imagine the negative feelings that the candidate will have. Communication is key to keeping candidate engagement high throughout the recruitment process. At the end of each interview, give your candidate an outline of timeline you are working to. If this changes for some reason, for example, another candidate needs to move their interview slot resulting in a longer timeline, be sure to update everyone else affected —a simple email or quick phone call will make all the difference.
Often, we have candidates telling us ‘I interviewed for another role last week but as I haven’t heard anything yet, I’m assuming I haven’t got the job’. If that candidate knew the timeline up front, then they would be more likely to understand the necessary pauses, and conduct their job search accordingly. Candidates who feel engaged in your process, are also going to feel more inclined to keep you in the loop if another job offer is looking likely, giving you the opportunity to avoid missing out.
People get busy, we get it. Things happen that can’t be avoided, but candidates will appreciate a simple apology if you’ve kept them waiting. It’s a small detail that has a big impact.
This is an interesting one, and it’s something that I have heard several times recently. Personally, I tend to stay away from specifically stating how long an interview will take. I prefer to go down the track of telling the candidate to allow one hour (or whatever time frame is appropriate). That way, if the interview takes 30 minutes, candidates don’t walk out wondering if this is a bad sign. You want to find that happy medium, between making sure the candidate has enough time, making sure you have enough time to go through everything you need, and also not creating an expectation of what is a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ amount of time for an interview.
During every interview, it’s important to give the candidate the opportunity to ask questions. Firstly, this will give you a read on how interested in the role they are. Did the candidate ask something that could have been found on your website’s homepage, or, are they seeking deeper insight into the role, or the business, that can only be provided by those who work there? The questions asked can also be a real insight into the candidate’s motivations, and what they value most in a work setting. If you’re not sure of an answer, be honest, find out and get back to them.
Allowing the candidate to ask questions also reinforces the positive experience of the interview being a two-way assessment.
With unemployment still very low at 4.1% in Q1 this year, employers can’t afford to be complacent about the interview experience. Assume every talented candidate is considering multiple job opportunities. Ensure that all the things that make your business great, aren’t undermined by a not- so-great first impression.
The tips above are just the tip of the iceberg! If you want to review your recruitment processes, but you are not sure where to start, give me a call, and let’s figure it out together.