Wait, Another Interview???

Five separate interviews. On five different dates. With five different individuals. “I just kept meeting with people,” the candidate said. “There was no end in sight. No timeline. No urgency. Every conversation was virtually the same. Honestly, I’m glad it didn’t work out because it didn’t feel professional. It became clear this job and company were not a fit for me.”

In my experience, the highest count in a similar situation was 11 interviews. “We simply could not achieve internal consensus,” my newly-arriving client told me. As it turned out, the count was 11 interviews (per finalist). The employer admitted that they too felt horrible, not to mention, exhausted. “We were hopeful we’d get there, but we never did. All we have to show for the process is a ton of wasted time. I don’t know if we’ll ever find anyone. We need help. We need to get this right.”

Unfortunately, I’ve heard variations of this same story a hundred times.

Employers and candidates alike continue to share what one might hope are tall tales from the fictional halls of Bad Interview Land. Industry-agnostic and position-agnostic—the storyline does not discriminate. It merely continues to loop, like a bad record player, leaving frustrated employers and confused candidates. Not to mention the bad connotations that “recruiting” and “process” pick up along the way.

So, how many interviews are too many? Too few? How many stakeholders should be involved? Should we use a panel or go with individual conversations? Should we use an assessment and, if so, now or later? Do we provide a company tour? Should we offer lunch? We’re in a pandemic…how do we interview now? Let’s Zoom. OK, let’s Zoom again.

These questions can seem dizzying. Even for the most fearless candidate, the most well-intentioned employer and the most resolute recruiter. Is there a way to design a recruitment process that makes the actual experience better for all involved?

While it might seem odd that an executive search consultant who advocates in collecting several data points across a multi-step process is the one writing this article, I can assure you there is a path to success and a method to avoid the madness described above.

To save time with this blog, I’ll quickly assert that consistency is key. More is not merrier. And you’ve got to make it meaningful.

  1. Consistency is Key – Ever end a series of interviews and realize you asked Candidate A about XYZ, but you forgot to ask Candidate B about XYZ? Similarly, have you tried to compare finalists in a search process and later realized Candidate A had a chance to meet the Regional Manager, yet Candidate B never did? Consistency is key in creating a great interview process for all involved. Your decision makers and candidates alike will appreciate this beyond all else because consistency will better enable a comparison of candidates and competing datapoints. Interviewing can be hard enough, on both sides, so why make it more complicated with inconsistent data points and experiences that vary as much as your candidates do?
  2. More is Not Merrier – More process. More people. More questions. It’s safe to say that more is not merrier. Creating process for process-sake serves no one. Adding more decision makers does not yield greater consensus. Asking more questions does not yield deeper insight. Candidate fatigue is real, and interviewers can experience the same. The important thing to remember about a good recruitment process is that you need enough steps to thoroughly vet and educate, but not too many to overwhelm or frustrate. Identifying the most important steps and the most critical decision makers in advance will help. Asking the right questions at the right time in the process (not just more questions or a series of the same questions) will keep you on the right track.
  3. Make It Meaningful – When determining your approach, make sure every step in your process has its own end goal. Take time to think through what you hope to achieve in each step along the way. Be intentional. Be strategic. And be prepared. Every step should further your knowledge of a candidate’s skill set. Likewise, every step should educate a candidate or offer an opportunity to discover something new about your organization. Balancing these dual-discovery purposes along the way is critical in creating the ROI you want as you progress with your most encouraging candidates. Making it meaningful along the way will demonstrate intentionality and purpose in your process, and your participants will be grateful.

I wish I could say there was a one-size-fits-all recruitment methodology, yet every search is unique. Customizing an appropriate and successful process is one of our first tasks here at Occhio. Designing and embracing an interview process that reflects the position and the complexity of the desired traits is a must-have.

Consistency is key, and success (and merriment) will come from a thoughtful, strategic and well-designed interview process. In the end, you will know you’ve done a good job when even those participants who leave the process without an offer share their compliments on the interviewing experience as a whole.

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