Best Practices for a Successful Interview Process

By Sara Pollock

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An average of 50% of new hires fail within the first 18 months. That’s not always because you’ve hired someone who can’t do the job, but sometimes because you hire someone who isn’t the right fit. So, what’s a good way to determine whether or not your candidate is a good match for the role? Re-examine your interview process. Make sure you have a strategic plan and goal for the job you’re looking to fill.

Interviewing doesn’t begin and end with the interview itself. The interview process should be a strategic, deliberate process built for both painting a holistic picture of the candidate and their skills and also communicating the role’s responsibilities and expectations. To do so takes a lot of preparation, planning, and follow-through. Here are some best practices for creating a thorough interview process:

Before the Interview

Define the role

Critical to attracting the right candidates, first and foremost your job description should be crystal clear. Vague descriptors and generalized responsibilities leave room for unqualified candidates to flood your funnel with resumes that don’t match up to your needs. Before you list the job opening, carefully consider exactly what it is you’re looking for. What skill sets are required? What level of experience is needed for this role? What are the day-to-day tasks? Think through all the aspects of the role and be explicit. The more applicants you can weed out before they even send a resume, the more you can focus on quality candidates.

Align With Your Business Goals

It’s also important to build roles around your specific business goals. What are your organization’s priorities, and how does this role directly impact them? What is it that you would like this role to accomplish versus what is it you need this role to accomplish, and how do you marry the two? Having a guide for what you want this job to accomplish will help you define the responsibilities expected in this role. Make sure the hiring manager and any company executives involved in the decision-making process provide input for their expectations and offer insight as to where and how this role will fit into the organization.

Additionally, it’s good practice to be transparent and let the candidate know how they would be contributing to the company. The better understanding an employee has of how their job fits into the business and the ways they’re are making an individual contribution, the more engaged and productive they are likely to be.

Align With Your Company’s Core Competencies

As you craft your job listing, also consider the mission, vision, and values of your organization and how your employees should reflect those elements in their demeanour and their work. How can you articulate in your job posting the type of person that will fit in well with your company culture? Make sure to include aspects of your culture that demonstrate what kind of candidate will be likely to find success in your environment and wants to work towards a common goal. Finding candidates who are not only capable but also a good culture fit increases your hiring success rate and reduces turnover by staffing your teams with people who are both competent and comfortable in their environment.

Training Your Interviewers

Interviewing isn’t as easy as asking a few questions and gauging the response. Prepare your hiring managers with types of questions to ask and how to put a nervous candidate at ease. Your interviewers are part of the process for a reason, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they know how to interview effectively. Supply your managers with guides ahead of the interview to help them plan ahead and scorecards after the interview to get immediate feedback on the candidate. Make sure everyone involved is comfortable and confident before they enter the room in order to get the best results.

Get the Tools That Help

You don’t have to do everything yourself. Look for tools that can help automate as much of the process as possible. Automation helps streamline, standardize, and expedite the tedious aspects of the interview process, leaving you more time to focus on the strategic parts that result in a higher-quality experience for your candidates. Using tools such as automated schedulers and text reminders make it simple to schedule out meetings and communicate with everyone involved in the process. This Interview Toolkit helps strengthen your interview process by providing you with the specific tools you need to make the administrative tasks easier and your hiring teams aligned.

During the Interview

Be Prepared

Once you’ve laid out your questions, get prepared and organized. Keep in mind that interviews are a two-way street. It’s not just about the employer deciding whether or not the candidate is a good fit; the candidate is evaluating you, too. Put your best foot forward by having your questions in front of you and in order. Pay close attention as your candidate speaks. Demonstrate that you’re listening and that you’re there to get to know them. Give them the opportunity to ask you questions in return. When a candidate feels that you’re being open with them, they’re likely to reciprocate. In turn, you get a much more effective, natural conversation out of the exchange.

Be Transparent

It’s also important that you are open and honest with your candidates. Set expectations for both the role and what someone in that position would be required to do, manage, or participate in. Your candidates need to have a clear, holistic view of what the day-to-day would be like in the role so they can decide whether or not it’s something they can see themselves in. The more transparent you are upfront, the less like you leave room for surprises, meaning your hiring success rate increases because the expectations have already been laid out even before day one.

After the Interview

Don’t leave your candidates wondering. Promptly send a follow up that thanks them for their time and set expectations for the next steps and the timeline you anticipate. The average job offer takes more than four weeks, so it’s important your candidates know what’s happening while they wait. Let them know what stage you’re in of the hiring process — How much longer will you be interviewing? How many rounds of interviews can they expect? Does your HR have to go through a vetting process? If you don’t inform your candidates that they’re still in consideration, they might assume that you’ve chosen other candidates to hire or become frustrated with the lack of communication and choose another job offer.

Having a clear cut plan for your interview process from start to finish that is based around larger business objectives ensures you hire the right person for the right job who is the right fit for all aspects of the organization. The more thorough and thoughtful the interview, the higher satisfaction you’ll see on both sides of the table.


This article was originally published on the ClearCompany blog.

About Sara Pollock:    
As the head of the Marketing department, Sara makes sure that ClearCompany’s message, products, and best practices reach and assist as many HR practitioners as possible. ClearCompany offer ClearText which will help recruiters get their message across easily and connect with your candidates conveniently, capturing text conversations on the candidate’s profile for a comprehensive view to help your recruiters find the best-qualified candidates. 

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