Hiring for your company is an important responsibility. We often focus on how the candidate can earn the respect of the company and land the job, but it’s just as important to look at the interview process from the other side.
How effective is your hiring team's approach to selecting new employees? The interview process gives potential employees clues about your work environment, and their experience interacting with your company directly affects their decision about whether to join your team. The hiring process can also damage your reputation as an employer if it’s not done well.
If you’re involved in hiring at your company, here are a few ideas about how to make it run more smoothly:
Evaluate your application process. Are you asking for too much up-front? The application process should be user-friendly, quick, and simple. Is it necessary for the candidate to list her entire salary history and references this early in the process? Should an application really take 20 minutes to fill out?
Use the application process as a way to deepen your relationship with a prospective candidate, and only gather the information you need to consider the candidate for present and future opportunities. If you’re asking an applicant to send specific information or create materials for your open position, it's important to arm them with the information they need to present themselves effectively. A standard job description probably won’t cut it.
Let applicants know their resume was received and what to expect. If you’re only going to interview candidates who meet all of the requirements, let them know that. If your policy includes keeping resumes in an applicant-tracking system or "on file" for a certain amount of time, be clear about that, too. If you don't want candidates to reapply for other positions in your company, let them know what to expect in an automated e-mail. Candidates understand it’s unlikely you’ll personally respond to every applicant.
Make sure your hiring team is on the same page. Prior to starting the interview process, it's important that your hiring team decide what you’re expecting in your next hire. Each interviewer should be able to answer basic questions about the position, and more importantly, sell the opportunity and company. Decide who will focus on what types of questions. Nothing seems more disorganized and unprepared than everyone on the hiring team asking the same questions.
Treat the candidate how you would expect to be treated. It goes without saying that not showing up for the interview, showing up late, eying your Blackberry, checking e-mails, or asking inappropriate questions are rude behaviors. Read the candidate's resume before interviewing, keep your hands off the mobile device, and don't forget to offer lunch and restroom breaks if it's a day of marathon interviews.
Close the loop. While you may not be able to personally contact every applicant, there’s no excuse for not letting a candidate you've interviewed know his status. Let him know if you offer the job to someone else or if you’re no longer considering him for the position. That gives him the chance to move on to other opportunities that would be a better fit, and increases the chances that he’ll have positive memories of his experience with your company. He may just lead you to your future hire with a referral or be the hiring manager interviewing you for your next position.
Lindsay Olson is a founding partner and public relations recruiter with Paradigm Staffing and Hoojobs, a niche job board for public relations, communications and social media jobs. She blogs at LindsayOlson.com, where she discusses recruiting and job search issues.