Problems With Today’s Interview Process and How to Change It
Written by Jeff Bond
Recruiting isn’t an easy task. Specifically, a hidden challenge within recruiting is the interview process. It can be an overwhelming task, especially in a competitive market like the technology industry. Here at SOLTECH, we understand the disquietude that can come with recruiting, especially in the traditional process. What are the problems with today’s interview process and how can we change it? (And attract more talent, too!) The answer isn’t easy: change the interview process and turn it into a recruitment experience.
Let’s start in the beginning. Say you just left your resource planning meeting with the budget and permission you need to onboard those valuable IT resources you’ve so desperately needed to execute your projects.
Wonderful, right? What’s the next step, though?
Questions to Ask Yourself, as a Recruiter:
- How will you compete against the hundreds of similar jobs available on the market?
- How are you going to write an impactful, meaningful job description?
- How will you stand out to gainfully employed, well-paid resources and a next-to-nothing unemployment rate?
- How will you hire talent quickly when top talent is getting scooped up by competitors at a break-neck pace?
Likely, a bit of fear and anxiety is starting to sneak its way into your mentality about recruiting.
If you’re involved in business and/or technology, you understand that the high demand for quality IT resources is only going to grow.
However, what recruiters don’t often take into account is as they source, interview, and hire talent, are the impressions that they leave with each candidate as they move through the “pipelines” so rapidly, regardless if we decide to make an offer or not.
The Typical Interview Process
Once a candidate is “on the hook”, they typically then go through an interview process that often resembles something along these lines:
Phase 1: Phone Screen Interview
- 30-minute investment for both candidate and hiring manager (although this is often done by HR if applicable)
Phase 2: Online Technical Assignment (if phone screen is deemed acceptable)
- 1-2 hours investment only for candidate against a ticking clock to assess their critical thinking under the gun
- 10-minute investment for hiring manager to critique
Phase 3: Onsite Interview (if assignment is deemed acceptable)
- 2-3 hour investment for candidate in a single conference room
- 20-30 minute investment for 4- 6 members of team and leadership to further vet technical and cultural fit
Phase 4: Extending the Offer (if each team member gives their endorsement)
- The final sign off from leadership and/or HR on the offer letter depends on the pace of the process and if the candidate is still interested and available
Phase 5: Onboarding (if the selected candidate accepted the offer)
- Employment and criminal history checks, drug testing, reference checks
Which Job Should I Take?
Take a moment and ask yourself, under the premise that you are in the shoes of the candidate actively seeking a new role and you have three proverbial “irons in the fire”:
The first opportunity served a one to two-day interview. This experience allowing the candidate to build foundational rapport with potential team members, learn more about their strategic initiatives, tour the office and perhaps even grab lunch with the team.
Unfortunately, another candidate was selected over you, but you were notified within a week of having this experience that you were a close runner up, and they would like to keep you in mind for the future. You were thanked for investing so much time in learning more about them.
The second and third opportunities weren’t totally clear on expectations up front, but the job description seemed like a good technical fit. Therefore, you’ve agreed to test the waters by going through their interview process akin to the 5 phase scenario outlined above.
After passing muster on both opportunities and reaching the finish line, having taken multiple PTO days to complete everything, you have learned that one of the opportunities is in line with what you’re looking for, but the other one was not the right culture for you. You received offers from both opportunities after about 45-60 days of assessments, interviews, negotiations, and onboarding procedures. You decline one and accept the other.
Question: Will you tell your family and friends that you’re excited that you landed your new position or will you share that you felt like you missed out on the best career opportunity that got away this time, but you’re just happy to have found a new job?
The need for dependable tech professionals isn’t going away anytime soon. In fact, with the need for constant ingenuity in the design and development of new technologies, that demand is only getting greater, faster, and more critical than ever.
Therefore, why are recruiters turning off a number candidates with a forgettable, drawn out, and impersonal interview processes? Alternatively, why are recruiters not creating positive, memorable, and desirable interview experiences that get retold amongst the talent community recruiters are interested in seeking to win over?
Hiring the wrong talent is much more detrimental than missing out on a candidate who gets away, so recruiters have to be thorough. Being curious and discerning by asking critical questions and gathering the opinions of your team members during interviews, is the only way to ensure you’re making the best hiring decisions possible to elevate your businesses.
It is, however, important to consider the lasting impression you are leaving with candidates as you probe into their backgrounds, values, emotional intelligence and technical level of expertise.
Moreover, it’s absolutely critical that recruiters intentionally show their appreciation for the fact that candidates are gifting us their time to consider coming to work at our companies by learning more about what we have to offer them.
It is common to hear about discussions amongst peers negatively speaking about the companies at which they’ve been treated like a number, with much praise and recognition about the companies at which they’ve felt connected. How did they feel connected to the company? Mostly for the respect and professionalism they’ve witnessed amongst potential peers and leaders.
Designing the flow of your interviews, moving candidates through each phase and blocking each participants’ calendars along the way can be a logistical nightmare at times.
Scheduling everyone to not only show up as an interviewer, but coaching them to be present, prepared, observant, kind, and friendly is an even bigger obstacle when you’re pulling them away from whatever fires they’ve been putting out.
Yet, perhaps recruiters must take a personal interest in eliminating the forgettable interview process and think more in terms of delivering the candidates a positive, memorable interview experience to be relevant in the tech community long term which undoubtedly will continue to present a competitive talent pool.
There are many great quotes on reputation, but Warren Buffet summed it up nicely when he said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”
So let’s suggest that we all change our behaviors and thinking a bit to change things up when it comes to giving people a strong perception of our companies:
- Be respectful of the candidates you pursue and only ask them to invest their time if you genuinely believe they are the right person to consider.
- Be kind and welcoming of the candidates you invite for an interview and coach everyone involved as an interviewer/influencer/evaluator to be the same.
- Be forthright with your agendas and what’s exciting about the job
opportunities before you ask candidates to enter into each next phase of the interviews so they can prepare appropriately.
- Share your vision, mission, values, critical project summaries and why you are looking to hire for your critical roles, so the engaged candidates can assess whether or not it aligns with their motivations.
- Give your candidates quick feedback after each evaluation point and respond to them if you have decided not to select them for the position.
- Do things differently and remove process from our vernacular and instead start naming it a candidate experience.
Remember, you likely have been responsible for interviewing candidates at your company or have yourself been a candidate pursuing an opportunity at least once in your career; you likely have both positive and negative experiences to share.
Thus, try putting yourself in the shoes of others, follow the golden rule and focus on making interactions memorable. Share your thoughts in the comments section below!