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Healing Employment – INTERVIEWING Reality Check

Installment four in an eight-part series, “Employment is Broken”, by Kim Shepherd, CEO, and Jeff Bloch, CMO, Decision Toolbox

In the employment process, the third critical stage of engagement is INTERVIEWING.  Once you’ve successfully attracted a quality applicant pool, then suited and sifted your way through to select your top candidates, how do you effectively spend your time with the most promising talent?

Interviewing Illusions

The best way to enter into the interviewing process is to engage your brain in a fool-proof process, and NOT get caught up in “interviewing illusions”.  Today’s interviewing illusions include:

  • It is a candidate-rich environment, so hiring managers are in the driver’s seat
  • Unemployed candidates are not top talent
  • Comparative shopping is a good practice

Let’s burst these illusions right here and now.  Yes, it is a candidate-rich environment.  However, starting in late 2009, many an organization cut 20% of their workforce – talent with the highest salaries were cut – lots of top talent was added to the applicant pool.  This point also pokes a hole in the illusion that unemployed candidates are not top talent.  Finally, the notion that hiring authorities are in the driver’s seat and have the luxury of comparative shopping with top talent is a bust.  If you’re interviewing a talented professional, they likely have at least two other opportunities in the mix, so you likely DO NOT have the luxury of time in your decision making.  A bird in hand truly is worth two in the bush.

Effective Interviewing Strategies

A challenging economy does not change the hiring dynamic.  If you attract, select and interview a promising candidate, do not shoot yourself in the foot by making the assumption that you don’t need to suit that talent and move quickly.  If you find a promising candidate, your job is to make him or her feel that you are the employer of choice, and your opening is the opportunity of choice.

The typical hiring manager of today works like this: interviews three candidates, one on Monday, the others on Tuesday and Thursday, then thinks about it on Friday and vows to make a decision over the weekend (which never happens).  Later the following week, he/she finally gets back to the promising candidate they interviewed the previous Monday and that person is long gone, OR their interest in that company and their opportunity has dwindled significantly.  The hiring manager failed to sell himself and his company as the employer of choice.  To use another bird idiom, the early bird really does catch the talented worm.

You don’t want to be the typical hiring manager, so rework the typical process:

  • Research – prior to interviews, pull up the candidates on LinkedIn to find out more about them and work what you know about them into the interview – it’s personal and they will feel you are genuinely interested in them.  They will likely leave wanting to work for you.
  • Be ahead of the pack – interview all three candidates on the same day and send a text message that very afternoon to your top candidate(s) asking them back for a second time to interview you as soon as possible. You have positioned yourself as the employer of choice.
  • Communication – as a rule, the hierarchy of candidate communication is: snail mail is trumped by a phone call, a phone call is trumped by email, and email is trumped by a text message.
  • Add one or two creative interview questions to your mix that are playful, yet can also elicit real insight, such as “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Final Tips

When interviewing applicants for your job opportunities, remember to be humble.  An interview really is a two-way street.  Sit at a table next to the person rather than across your desk, and if you like them, invite them back to interview you, follow up immediately, and most importantly, don’t forget that the talented candidate is always holding the cards.

Check back for our next installment in the “Employment is Broken” series, where we’ll delve into the murky depths of HIRING.

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