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. Employers need to be interview ready.
Interview readiness audit
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.
The interview itself
- 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 They will notice if the office is untidy, the furniture old and scruffy, the computers outdated and the bathrooms inadequate.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.
Interviewing is not a chat
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. Employers need to be interview ready.
If you need help strengthening your talent pipeline – get in touch NOW.
Hi Dorothy, ~ This post needs to be widely, and deeply, read by those organizations who continue to think they are doing candidates a favour by ‘granting’ them an interview. It occurs to me that much time is spent preparing candidates for interviews and very little time in doing the same for employers.
I think many in the business world need more of this kind of counsel and many more would do well to heed it.
P.S. I loved the Monty Python interview!
Thanks Cat – the feeling that I got was in fact that many HR functions do react with understanding when they know about a situation. Very often divorce and the run- up are private issues and some employees don’t talk about them or even let their employer know after the event.
With 50% of marriages now ending in divorce, the impact on basic workplace practises is becoming more significant, especially with joint custody arrangements being enforced by the courts.
I agree with your point ref care for elderly family members will play an increasingly role.
Thanks Gwyn – yes candidates are becoming increasingly savvy and prepped!
One MBA candidate I coached turned down an offer from a company because of what he observed when called for interview was not consistent with their public branding message.
Oh Dear – we seem to be going backwards in an employer’s market and it will be paid for. In these days the reputational damage could be huge, to say nothing of paying for poor decisions. The more the discussion is out in the open the better – so thank you.
I’ve found that interviews can be much more than a step in the recruiting process. They’re a great place to introduce yourself and organization to others who might someday be your customer or your source for referrals. They might be a channel for learning about competitors, other markets or new concepts. They create an opportunity for those in your organization to have a dialog about your priorities and your values, what exactly needs to be done, by current employees and the prospective ones.