Although top-level candidates are investing increasingly in their employee brands and interview readiness, I’ve heard many stories that would suggest that some organisations are getting complacent. Mistakenly they believe that either being a good manager automatically makes them good interviewers, or with the market awash with candidates they don’t have to make an effort. They have basically let their interview readiness slip.
So for many companies it is perhaps time to carry out an audit of interview processes:
- Have priorities been set and agreed? It’s no good labelling the process urgent if the interviewers have operational commitments (year-end closure, sales conference etc) within that timescale and have no availability. If they are called away unexpectedly – who is the number 2?
- Empower the interviewer – ensure that at least one player in the process is authorised to make the hiring decision. Delays for rubber stamping higher up the organisation chart increases the chance of top candidates being snapped up by other companies or being able to leverage their situation with their current employer in the hope of a counter offer.
- Timely, clear and courteous communication by all company members to create the best possible impression. Candidates lose interest if the process is unnecessarily extended and they are not kept in the loop. They should be treated immediately and correctly by all involved in the process, even secretaries and receptionists.
- Avoid ” trial by interview”: Candidates withdraw if they are called back multiple times to talk to different managers involved in the process, only to be asked the same questions by each. For many this will mean taking several days vacation and could jeopardise their position with their current employer.
- Environment – candidates should be interviewed in a location that is appropriate for the position. They will notice if the office is untidy, the furniture old and scruffy, the computers outdated and the bathrooms inadequate. Be mindful that small things send out big messages.
- Professional grooming: Interviewers should be appropriately groomed for the sector.
- Inappropriate or discourteous treatment: I have seen interviewers cancel appointments with 30 minutes notice, take telephone calls during the interview, invite candidates for dates, raise their voices at them, be fuzzy and unprepared about their own opening, with no job profile to hand and not having given the CV an even cursory glance, forgetting the candidate’s name. I could go on! This creates a bad impression.
- Careless talk – casual throw away remarks particularly around work/ life balance, corporate values, management style, career development and salary structure can also cause concern. Just as employers would expect candidates to be well rehearsed with their responses , employers also have to be mindful of the fall out of ill-considered statements. Body language is also important.
- Inappropriate or even illegal questions. The widely publicised need for political correctness seems to have passed many by, especially when interviewing women.
- Time wasting – searches are quite often conducted externally to benchmark internal candidates. If any process is for form’s sake only, be mindful to keep the time demanded of candidates to a minimum.
- Record keeping. It’s important to keep neutral and factual notes of all candidates seen in the process, even ones who don’t make the cut. You may want to call them back at some time in the future. Research carried out by Start Wire suggests that only 33% of Fortune 500 companies are willing to give feedback despite evidence that failure to do so damages not just their employer brand but their product branding as well.
Many companies assume that people skills come naturally and interviewing is only about ” having a chat” with a candidate. Clearly personal chemistry is important, but sadly some interviewers have been found lacking, with not even minimal investment in basic training.
In this case success isn’t just about showing up!
Damage to an employer brand in today’s hi-tech culture is only one click away. Word does get round professional bodies, alumni associations and the market sector.
If any of this sounds cringingly familiar – now is the time to do an audit.