April 25, 2017

How Better Interviews Lead to Better Business

There are so many factors of recruiting and hiring that companies could focus on when they want to improve their processes, save money or increase their bottom line - from how they source talent to offer acceptance, and everything in between. However, here’s an often-overlooked part of the hiring process that holds the power to make a significant impact on many areas of the company: the interview process.

We tend to gloss over the importance of how interviews are conducted because we hang onto what’s traditionally been done in the organization or don’t want to ask hiring managers to rethink the way they personally prefer to interview. But I’ve seen first hand just how powerful an adjustment to the interview process can be, and I believe any company can benefit from taking a hard look at how they can improve theirs.

Years ago I had the opportunity to re-shape our interview process, which included slates of interviewers between 9 and a 12 people. We knew that by tightening these slates down to just five people we could significantly reduce the time and costs associated with hiring. We did a cost analysis using average hourly rates (12 people times x dollars per hour) plus we factored in the number of hours or days spent being involved in our hiring process by those who were asked to interview often. This time and these costs were real and significant. They provided the business case for us to change and implement a new leaner process named “Tight Slates”.

Reducing the interview slates down to 5 had significant positive effects, including the ones we used to sell it to the organization: time and costs saved. But, even bigger positive outcomes resulted from overshadowed time and money. The large slate interviews used before were creating a sort of group think that was going unnoticed but that spread the hiring authority among too many people. This meant that none of them had the ultimate authority, and no one clearly understood their role or would be held accountable for coming to a decision. By reducing the number of interviewers to five people who understood their roles, and giving the decision making authority to one person who reviewed the interviewers’ feedback, there was instant clarity and accountability. Hiring quality improved plus the candidate experience benefitted significantly because of the new structure, and the time and cost savings were just icing on the cake.

Interviewing is the core of good talent selection

What that experience taught me is that while recruiting the right people is important, the interview is where the magic happens. Good interviews lead to good hires, and by improving how the interview is conducted, we have the power to seriously improve the quality of hires. Asking the right questions in the right format, and having the right people in the room helped interviewers get the answers they needed to make valuable recommendations. This translated to being able to make better hires, which often means increased productivity and higher quality work.

Interview improvements can bring efficiencies

Interviews can become a significant cost for companies who require multiple levels of interviews or make a large number of hires. By improving the process and looking beyond what’s been done and focusing on what’s really best, efficiencies can be found. For some companies, cutting a single step of the process - which may be overkill anyway - could save hundreds of staff hours. That’s a saving of cost and time that you may not be able to squeeze out of any other business process, but you can here. Imagine what your company could do with the money and hours you could get back by making a simple change.

The candidate experience effect

So much of the candidate experience comes down to the few times they actually see a representative of your company - when they interview. Of course, the candidate experience starts much earlier and goes far beyond, but there’s nothing more memorable than a face-to-face conversation with the people you hope to work with. This means that improving your interviews is bound to have an effect on candidate experience. Imagine if a company conducted concise, productive interviews, asked the right questions to really get to know you, and included only people that were vital to the process but not so many that the experience was overwhelming. It sounds ideal, I know, but it’s what happens when interviews are strategically planned and executed, and the positive candidate experience is a really fortunate outcome. This kind of experience leads to candidates who are excited about your company and being on your team, whether they are chosen in the end or not.

Gain a competitive advantage

Improving your interview processes can save time and money, improve candidate experience and lead to better hires, and it can give you a distinct advantage over those companies striving to hire the same great candidates you’re wooing. In a competitive talent marketplace, being fast, efficient and creating great experiences will make you the envy of those bogged down in red tape and slow decision making. An optimized interview process makes selection simple and quick, and yields the hires you want, not the ones that were left when your first choices reported back that they had moved on to another opportunity. This competitive advantage in hiring could just lead to a competitive advantage in the market as well.

In this example I have shared above, it was cost and time savings that were the driving motivations to optimize our interview process, but in the end these changes led to positive effects on quality of hire, the candidate experience and being better equipped to compete for the best talent. Many of these outcomes were unforeseen when we started. The return on making these changes goes beyond what you’ll immediately see on paper. For instance, the benefits of improving candidate experience and gaining a competitive advantage could affect your bottom line for years to come. If there’s just one area you evaluate this year, I encourage you to take a look at your company’s interview process and make small changes that can make a big difference.


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