In the Hiring Manager’s Guide to Interviews: The Trilogy we’ve been exploring interviewing 101 for hiring managers, from deciding on the right interview types, crafting the right questions, to now honing your interviewing skills to start interviewing like a Hiring Expert.
In this finale, we’ll talk about creating a great candidate experience, how to evaluate if the candidate is a good fit, and touch on some hiring biases to watch.
Candidate experience matters throughout the hiring process. Interviews are crucial in creating a positive experience to enhance your employment brand — whether you hire a candidate or not. There are a few things for you to think through as you begin interviewing candidates.
Get organized ahead of the interview and communicate openly with candidates about what to expect. For example, let the candidate know the purpose of the interview, who they will be meeting, and if there is anything specific that they need to prepare. You should also plan how you will communicate the timeline and potential next steps at the close of the interview.
The easiest way to package this information is in a templated invite that goes on both your and the candidate’s calendars (an ATS can help automate this).
At CareerPlug, we also attach something special to our first in-person interview invite: a copy of our Vivid Vision that articulates what’s important to us and where we are headed as a company. Candidates love knowing our long-term goals so early in the process, and they experience a renewed excitement to engage with our process.
You expect candidates to come to interviews prepared: having researched the company, written down questions, and appearing energized and professional. Interviewers need to do the same.
To get ready to conduct an interview:
- Review the Ideal Candidate Profile and make sure you have a firm grasp on the role. Know what you need to evaluate and be able to answer candidate questions that may arise.
- Prepare your interview questions ahead of time.
- Review the candidate’s resume, cover letter, and any other relevant data you may have collected (like assessment reports or phone screen notes).
- Share the candidate’s information with other interviewers so everyone can walk in as prepared as you.
A little hospitality can go a long way to show that your office and team is a welcoming and respectful place to work. Remember, candidates evaluate you as well, so hold yourself to the same standards to which you hold a candidate:
- Be on time for the interview
- Offer candidates something to drink
- Stay present (don’t check your phone, smartwatch, or do work on your computer)
- For long interviews, offer the candidate breaks
- Leave time for candidate questions
Now that you’ve got the candidate in the room, there are three major evaluation points to keep in mind as you interview candidates with your Ideal Candidate profile in mind: Ability, Motivation, and Culture Fit.
Ability: Can they do it?
Can this person actually do the job? Don’t confuse “can they do it” with “have they done it?”. Ask yourself as you evaluate for a certain talent or skill whether it is something essential from day one or something that can be learned.
Motivation: Will they do it?
Whether a candidate can do a job doesn’t matter if they aren’t willing to do it. Ask questions about where a candidate has been and where they’re headed to see where their drive to do the work shows up.
In CareerPlug’s hiring process, we have a whole interview dedicated to this. In the Best Five Years Interview, we explore a candidate’s personal and professional motivations.
Culture Fit: Will others do it with them?
This is a non-negotiable for us, and it starts with our Core Values. The right candidates will become that much more attracted to your company if they can see that you have values that are similar to theirs. But beware, culture fit is not who “looks like us.”
Include your team in your interview process and ask questions aligned with your core values. For example, one of our Core Values at CareerPlug is “Give Back,” so we might ask, “What does generosity mean to you in the workplace?”
In general, look for candidates who fully answer questions, who give specific examples, and who ask good questions of their own.
Check Your Biases
We all have inherent biases that impact how we live and work. During interviews, we should do our best to actively mitigate these biases to help us make the best hiring decision.
How to address potential bias:
- Educate yourself on common biases that show up during the hiring process
- Rely on structured interviews by asking every candidate the same questions
- Don’t be the only interviewer in the room
- Do a phone screen first so you’re unable to unconsciously judge appearance
- Don’t rely on your memory — take notes.
- Identify one thing you can do to improve the candidate experience at this hiring step. Evaluate how you currently prepare for interviews. Maybe you need to take time to review candidate information or to set up the meeting room.
- Review your questions. Determine whether your questions help you answer the three main evaluation criteria: Ability, Motivation, and Culture Fit.
- Educate yourself on potential biases. Remember that we all carry inherent biases. A structured hiring process helps us move past bias to hire amazing candidates.