Four Ways to Crush the Interview. Clients, We’re Talking to You

You’ve done everything right to attract the right candidate. So far. You created a perfect job description, accurately conveyed your culture to the recruiting partner. And they’ve matched your needs with some of the best talent in the field. But after a star candidate spends the day interviewing, they decide to keep looking. What went wrong?

Honestly, it could be any number of things, but what we hear most often is “The interview experience wasn’t great.” This idea might get old, but it never goes out of style: the candidate was also interviewing you. Not always with a barrage of questions, but with silent judgment and assessment. 

We’ve discussed the nitty gritty of an interview. But here is some wisdom on providing a robust and dynamic interview experience. 

1. Provide an agenda for the day. Down to the minute. 

From the time candidates enter your doors, they should feel welcomed and valuable. Greet them warmly. Don’t make them wait in the lobby for 20 minutes. Hand them an agenda (with suggested bio breaks) so they can see the plan. People like certainty–especially on a nerve-wracking day. Every minute of their day should be accounted for.

2. Sell your organization. Softly, but with intention.

The truth is, most great candidates have options. So, it’s your job to sell them on everything. Why would you be a great fit for them? What does your culture do especially well? Why do you love working there? One of our clients—SitusAMC—does this incredibly well. In fact, every person we’ve placed at Situs is still thriving. And we’ve been partners since 2018. Why? Because they treat job candidates with the same motivation as they treat clients. And it works. Remember that 100% retention means reducing onboarding and training fees as well as fewer disruptions in workflow. 

3. Put down the phone. No really, right now. 

When interviewing a candidate, give them your full attention. Close your computer screen, put down your phone, listen. Wouldn’t you judge candidates poorly if they were multi-tasking? Recently, we had a candidate lose out on a great opportunity because he placed his phone face down on the table in front of him during the interview. I know, it seems picky. But the company had choices, and etiquette was top priority. Let’s hold ourselves to the same standard.

4. Be prepared. Yes, you’ve heard this one before. 

This is as basic as the Boy Scouts. Yet it’s faded in the past decade, largely (we think) due to double-booked schedules and a ridiculous daily work pace. But don’t just review the resume before the interview. And don’t review it for the first time in front of the candidate. Highlight experience or qualifications that piqued your curiosity. Check out their LinkedIn profile. Read a blog they’ve authored. Research mutual connections. Find common ground with sports teams, family or volunteerism.  

5. Be honest with candidates. If in doubt, err on the side of caution.

This is more easily lost than you might think. A woman once told us that she’d made it to the final interview and was competing with just one other candidate. The other candidate went first, and our candidate was never called. It turns out the president hired the other person on the spot and never followed up. Not good. Keep your word and you’ll keep your refined reputation. 

6. Make sure everyone is on the same page.

Candidates rarely come on-site and interview with a single person. So, what’s the plan? Is the HR person covering culture? Is the hiring manager covering technical skills? Is the C-Suite covering leadership and growth potential?  If every interview covers the same topics, it makes for a long day for the candidate, and it’s extremely repetitive! Use your time wisely and have each interviewer focus on a topic to check multiple boxes over the course of the day. A well-executed post-interview assessment with the interviewing team must be timely and bring together the data collected from the team.  On that note….

Bonus: Do A Post-Interview Assessment 

Finding the right candidate is a living and breathing process. Interviews often lead to a tweak in the job description or an aha moment about the role. You may uncover soft skills that never got included–or hard skills that were simply forgotten. Maybe you botched the interview schedule and need to make adjustments. Finally, spend time as a team to discuss the candidates so that decisions can be made on the next steps.  Whatever you do, be sure to inform your recruiting company about these changes.


~ David Preston spent 14 years in banking and real estate before starting PeopleSuite with his father in 2004. He’s passionate about the  University of Georgia, EO and elk hunting. 

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