Apr 12 · 4 min read
A guide to step up your interview game
There are so many jobs to be done that require different skill sets and attitudes.
That’s why there is a small side note: The details for your hiring process should always be worked out by you and your team and you should make it personal. The worst interviews are those where people are treated as numbers.
Someone is basically asking you to use their time in exchange to work at your company. Handle with care.
That being said, the process you are going to learn here can be applied to every company no matter the size.
I can’t think of any jobs out there that require no interview somewhere in the hiring process. By following this three-step process, you’ll make the most out of every interview. And the great thing is that it’s scalable. Meaning when the team grows, it’s easy for new hiring managers to duplicate the process.
- Use an interview outline
- Use the wisdom of crowds through scorecards
- What questions to ask
- Start with a phone screen interview
- Try and avoid bias
- Prepare the candidate
Once you’ve set up your recruitment strategy and have found the channels to source new candidates from, a fairly constant stream of applicants should fall on the doormat.
After you’ve reviewed the applicants with your hiring team and made a selection of people you would like to interview, it’s time to prepare each interview. After all, preparation is the separation.
In Work Rules, Laszlo Bock described the HR practices at Google and how they run their people department. One interesting insight is that the measure that best predicts future job performance is structured interviews. They’ve been proven to be twice as effective as unstructured interviews.
In a structured interview every candidate is asked the same questions, all interviews follow the same order (phone call, onsite interview, trial day), while an unstructured interview is spontaneous and doesn’t follow any structure at all. That sounds fun, but it makes it hard to compare candidates. Not only that, biases could run loose (we’ll get into that later). That's why we prefer semi-structured interviews in which you use an interview agenda to structure your conversation but don't script every question in advance.
Get this process right and you will seriously boost your chances of making the right hire for every future position.
Use an interview outline
This is basically a list of everything you need to cover during the interview. Leave enough room for spontaneity and for the conversation to swerve a little bit off topic.
Do ask your colleagues what they found to be important information before making the decision to join your company.
For example, after people joined our company and found out how many different nationalities we have, they told us that knowing this beforehand would have make them even more enthusiastic about joining us.
Some things to include in your story:
Intro to the company
- History, hierarchy, vision, strategy, stip on the horizon
- What kind of person are you looking for apart from the necessary skills to do the work required
- Requirements, responsibilities, goals for the future
- Talk about the steps and expectations during the whole process
- Salary expectation, possible starting date, perks and benefits
- If there are other candidates in the loop, time frame
Use the wisdom of crowds through scorecards
Based on what you are looking for in a candidate, create a scorecard. It’s a simple overview to score the candidate on skills, values, motivation and everything else you think is important for the job and to be a culture fit.
By having more than one person do this you apply the theory of The Wisdom of Crowds whereby the gathering of information in groups, results in decisions that are often better than could have been made by any single member of the group.
You use the scorecard after the complete hiring process has reached the point of giving the candidate an offer or not.
What questions to ask
It doesn’t matter how well you are prepared, interviewing is still a human process and it should be. There are no perfect questions, as this is totally different for each job. A web developer’s skills and background are completely different from a communications expert, so hone in on what makes each of them tick.
- Ask open questions
- Questions that cannot be answered with a simple Yes or No.
- Make people think, get more out of people.
Try not to ask questions with an answer in it.
Like “Do you have experience with marketing tools such as Google Analytics?”
Start with a phone screen interview
Sometimes it could just be that little bit of extra information you get from talking to someone that can save you and the candidate valuable time. Before inviting someone to come in, a short call ensures that the candidate and you are on the same page before they potentially meet for the first time.
A few things to consider discussing over the phone:
Here are a few things that we suggest discussing during the call:
- Why this company?
- Why this position?
- Candidate experience
- Candidate expectations
- Salary indication
Try and avoid bias
Knowing about biases and which ones you are prone to doesn’t stop them from happening. There a thing called human nature that seems to be very hard to switch off. To stay as neutral as possible during the interview process, identify what your biases are in advance and try to be constantly conscious of them. It helps to keep an eye on your scorecard so you don’t lose focus or get blindsided.
Some biases to consider before the job interview:
First impressions error
Allowing an initial judgment of a candidate — good or bad — to affect one’s feedback or decision.
Allowing the opinions of others — good or bad — to affect one’s feedback or decision.
Allowing one major strength or weakness of a candidate to affect the overall feedback or decision, rather than thinking holistically.
Prepare the candidate
You want to provide the best hiring experience possible. The best way to do this is by communicating clearly and making sure that the candidate knows exactly what to expect.
Make sure the candidate knows when and where the interview will take place and what they can expect in the interview. Explain the process and cover how many interview stages there will be. Telling candidates this - and who are they having the interview with and which topics will be covered - will help them relax and let both sides be at their best on the day.