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5 Tips to Optimize the Interview Process

5 Tips to Improve the Interview Process

Implement a solid interview process and save yourself a lot of pain and hassle down the line. Avoid disappointed candidates and frustrated hiring managers, and keep yourself from being caught in the middle. Use these easy tips on how to improve your process, just like I have.

I have been part of interview panels for close to 20 years. There are a few things difficult when it comes to it. I will discuss a few of them in a simplified list to effectively planning job interviews. If you focus on these items, you will already increase the effectiveness and efficiency of your interview process. Your candidates, your HR team and your hiring managers will be very, very happy.

1. Prepare all Documentation

The process starts with having all documentation in order. And it starts with the job posting. Make sure that you prepare a clear and attractive posting, that is accurate, appealing and correct. Read our previous post about how to do that, here.

Collect the candidates’ resumes. Especially if you are conducting for internal interviews, it is important to have the latest versions available. I have seen employees that have worked at the company for a decade, and haven’t had a job interview in so long, either. They may need some help in getting their resume up to date, and attractive as well. If you require additional documents, like a portfolio, a development plan, a questionnaire or something similar, double-check everything is ready, and available for the hiring team.

2. Plan Ahead

The practical side of the interviews is crucial. Finding the right people and then ensuring they are available in a decent amount of time, is important. The situation now may have changed, but as soon as business travel picks up, you will find that it will be harder to find everyone to plan.

First, agree on a hiring panel. Who makes sense to have interview the candidates? I recommend making the panel manageable. You need a few to ensure you have got a balanced view on the candidates and avoid bias, but you also want to make sure you don’t have a large panel that leads to many, many interviews. Three or 4, that’s about the sweet spot. In case you have more, that’s possible, but it will mean that you have a tougher job keeping the process compact.

If you need to plan in-person interviews, either on location or through video conference, block time on the hiring team’s agendas well in advance. Agendas tend to fill up quickly, so it will be difficult to plan interviews and keep the process compact. Wait too long, and the process runs the risk of being stretched out.

On a side note, AskAway’s solution makes that something of the past. With our recorded interviews, it no longer matters who is available at the exact time. And you can easily share the interview with relevant stakeholders. If you want to give that a try, check out this link for a free trial of our powerful tool. No credit card required, and you get the advantages of the tool at your disposal immedately.

3. Have a Prep Meeting

Once you have decided on the panel, take the time to prepare the interview panel. It helps to decide on standard questions: if you do, it helps to ensure you ask the candidates the same questions, so you can compare better. It also streamlines the interview process and removes further bias.

You can align roles that the team will assume in the interview, with hiring managers focusing on technical skills and experience, and other on the soft skills and cultural fit.

4. Prepare the Candidates

Make sure the applicants know what to expect. Explain the interview process, and help them understand who will interview. List the names and their roles. Ask them to prepare necessary documents. If you have any, you can already share documents, leaflets or videos that showcase the company, culture and employees.

It is a good way for candidates to be even better prepared for the interview, and a chance to build a brand early on.

5. Have a wrap-up session, feedback

An important part of the interview process is a formal and standardized feedback session. I call it a wrap-up session. In this discussion, all members of the interview panel provide feedback on the candidates. I recommend having a fixed set of criteria, that differs per requirement of the specific role. If the criteria a similar for all, you provide the feedback for all candidates in the most honest way. I used to have a ranking as well, from candidate number 4 getting 4 points, and the number 1, 1 point. You can calculate the average to have a mathematical score. I made sure the hiring manager had the last say.

If you want to make sure you get the relevant feedback, have a strong facilitator, and have that facilitator have the quietest participant answer so you get all the responses, as unfiltered as possible.

6. Closing point

Overall, for the sake of the process’ success, keep the process as short as possible. You run the risk of losing candidates if the process takes too long. i believe that following these tips will help you close the process, successfully, and timely, and you’ll help the candidates have a good experience, as well.

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