For many, the interview process seems to be inherently flawed by design. The process in and of itself is highly subjective, often exposed to individual bias, testing artificial circumstances, and when done by those not trained or exposed to reliable interview techniques, it can render the process virtually worthless.
On the candidate side, few interpret interviewing as a skill that should be practiced even when not in the midst of a job search. And for those that do take the time to master their interviewing skills, they can easily learn to manipulate the process and land interviews and offers even when they may not be the most qualified or best fit for the position.
So is the interview process flawed by design as a whole? Or can it be salvaged? The first question you should be asking is if you are auditing your interview process. The second question is to ask if your interviewers have been trained in interviewing.
Any process that is not reviewed to affirm its success or identify its challenges is subject to problems. The foundation of any company and its success is its employees, and if you’re not doing your part to make sure you are hiring the best, you’re doing the company a disservice and possibly setting yourself up for failure down the road.
To audit the process, management should be sampling both the hired employees and the rejected candidates on a regular basis to see how they can improve their selection process and identify if mistakes were made, such as placing a person in a role they weren’t fit for or with the wrong skill sets.
Not every interview technique and process works for every company. There is no one size fits all solution to interviewing. No two job applicants are the same and no role is identical because a company’s needs change over time and so do roles and responsibilities. Many interview techniques are also unreliable in identifying who the best fit for the role is, so you have to be open to trying new ideas and identifying what works for you and your team and what doesn’t.
Tests and questions in the interview are also assessing artificial circumstances so you have to be certain you are not just being fed information you want to hear, but that a job seeker has the work history or experience to back it up. This can be done by more extensive reference checks and questioning into their previous behavior in a role, how they handled specific situations, and what they learned and applied to their work.
Furthermore, the process must match the position. All too often interviewers are focused on a set of questions they might like that identify certain traits or skills that may not be applicable to the particular job their hiring for. You may want to ask high level math questions to assess intelligence, but a marketer doesn’t need to be as proficient in this area and you could be ruling a highly qualified candidate out for the wrong reasons.
And when it comes to entry-level positions an interviewer should be assessing potential and not expertise. All too often interviewers get stuck in a rut of examining experience, but for these positions it’s even more crucial to address how these applicants might grow and adapt in your organization and what skills they bring that will flourish in the role, as they don’t have the experience and expertise yet in their work history.
What should also be remembered is that applicants are your customers and also your future competition. A bad interview experience with a company can create a lifetime of animosity, hostility, and bitterness for some candidates towards the organization. In tech companies we’ve seen many examples over the years of how a highly sought after or superstar candidate was disenchanted during the interview process and went on to start up or work for a rival company and help it be more successful.
And training employees who are doing the interviewing is crucial to the success rate of these hiring decisions. Especially in smaller companies, you have to first make sure that the people you are tasking with interviewing are up to the assignment. Especially if the interviewer is in a similar role, you want to identify any feelings of job insecurity and reinforce their worth to the team and the importance of a great hire.
What you don’t want is their insecurities to subconsciously sabotage the process by selecting a candidate who may be inferior to their skill sets so they have job security. Additionally, you don’t want personal biases to affect the hiring decision. This is another area where effective training can mitigate risk.
While many companies can manage without training their interviewers and get by when they’re only hiring every now and again by taking their time with the process or taking up the slack with internal employee programs, when the company hits a state of fast growth, lack of training can have severe damaging effects.
It’s better to take the time up front to train your employees than to hit a road block at a critical time in hiring. In a high-growth period, all of a company’s growth and prosperity can be thwarted within weeks or months by bad hiring decisions.
Your employees are the underpinning of any company and determine an organization’s success or failure. Your competitors are not your biggest threats but your own mistakes in hiring and managing the people responsible for your revenue and profits. When you have a process that isn’t flawed you can better match individuals to their jobs and mitigate these mistakes.
If you want success, you have to be willing to look at your internal flaws, adapt, and be honest with what works and what doesn’t in order to find ways to attract, hire, and retain the best employees. If you don’t protect the quality of your employees, any amount of success your organization has achieved will always exist in the past and stagnate. Don’t let a flawed process design a path to failure in your company. Build your own path to find what works for your organization to build a solid foundation of people and achievement.