The interview process—from the initial screen to the last sit-down with the hiring manager—can be the make-or-break moment in the candidate’s experience with the employer. All your preparation and work up to this point could be for nothing if the interview doesn’t go well; even if the candidate isn’t the best for the job, you want them to leave a good impression of the company.
At California Labor Solutions, we outline the following simple tips to improve interview skills and techniques, as well as the candidate experience during the whole process:
1. Preparation (Both Recruiter and Applicant)
Not being prepared for an interview is a disservice to the candidate and the whole process. However, it is common for recruiters to skim the resume while walking into the interview.
The preparation implies previous research about the candidates and their backgrounds. With that information, recruiters can write out questions in advance, and the interview process will be much more productive and fluent than “doing it on the fly.” Moreover, it is essential to find out as much as possible about the open role and compare it to what is important to the candidates as they grow their careers.
Recruiters are not the only ones who need to be ready for the interview; candidates need to be provided as much information as possible about the job to determine from the beginning if it is the right match for them. The job description or the required skillset is not enough to paint the picture for them; they must also know if the company’s culture matches their personal values.
Recruiters should also ensure that candidates are prepared for interviews as the process advances. Candidates should know who they will be interviewing with, what the expectations are, what the action items are, and even the accepted dress code. A huge mistake is to assume candidates know the interview process since not all companies conduct the same approach during the interviews.
Recruiters must understand their role and the employer’s business to present it to the candidates. The recruiters are responsible for adequately selling the position and the employer to the candidates. Besides knowing the job, the benefits, or the projects the employer is offering, recruiters need to demonstrate them from the initial screen interview. If it’s not done well, it can leave a candidate feeling less interested, probably for them to withdraw from the process.
2. Respect (Your thoughtful and organized hiring process should demonstrate it.)
Recruiters and hiring managers must respect candidates’ time by being punctual for interviews; there’s no excuse for keeping a candidate waiting. Besides wasting candidates’ time and interest in the process, being late for an interview can play against us since they can report us on platforms such as Glassdoor or Indeed and affect our image for other potential employees.
We should be aware of the brief time we have to meet a candidate; using it correctly can allow us to put candidates at ease and show them the company’s culture. Recruiters can get the most out of the interview if it flows as a genuine conversation instead of an interrogation.
Sometimes recruiters go off script with follow-up questions, which is a good practice. However, the new questions must be kept relevant to the process and intended not to trick candidates or glean insight into their personality with off-topic questions.
Basic social skills must be practiced, which include not only offering good treatment to the candidate but also demonstrating proper body language; for instance, sitting up, showing interest, making eye contact, and turning off your phone.
3. Build Rapport
Recruiters and candidates are in the process of forming a relationship, and strong rapport is the foundation of that relationship. Focusing on building trust and making sure the candidate’s experience is positive takes precedence in the process, even overmatching the candidate’s skills to the job requirements.
Rapport should be built from the beginning, connecting conversationally with candidates. Otherwise, it would not give a good impression of the company’s or the recruiter’s energy and can reflect on a poor candidate’s experience going forward.
4. Communicate Well and Often
The screening interview should always be with the recruiter to develop a relationship and mold the candidates’ experience as best as possible. Some hiring managers want to skip this step and go directly into their own interviews to save time, but formative time spent with the recruiter is crucial.
If the screening process is not done with a candidate before handing them off to a hiring manager for an interview, recruiters cannot know much about the person, leading to backtracking later.
A successful and positive candidate’s experience starts by paying attention to candidates, keeping them informed every step of the way, and being very responsive to their doubts and concerns. Some recruiters will submit candidates and then forget about them, which is nothing more than lousy practice we must avoid.
Communication is also important between recruiters and hiring managers. Maintain a high level of communication with them, and never leave them guessing about what you’re doing or where candidates are in the process.
5. Review Your Work
Continuous self-improvement is critical to being a better interviewer. As processes and technology evolve, recruiters never want to become stagnant and avoid interviewing the same way today as it was done years ago.
If you feel that your interviews are getting too routine, you can ask your peers to shadow the calls and hear your questions to see if you are missing anything or to see how you can change up your technique. Be kind and return the favor and shadow them for their own improvement.
Another tip is to listen in on the interviews with hiring managers to hear how they interact with candidates and what questions they ask.
Hiring a new employee is a significant investment. Let the quality of your process demonstrate that consistently so that you not only avoid legal pitfalls associated with the hiring process but that you also help ensure that every person who didn’t get the job leaves wishing they had and tells their colleagues about the great experience they had with your company. This is a part of building your brand and fortifying the positive culture of your company.
We Can Help!
At California Labor Solutions, we are experts at building hiring processes and training screening and selection committees (and hiring managers). We are also able to support your HR and internal hiring process using your application tracking systems and recruitment policies.
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