Eight ways to improve your interview process
19 November 2019

Eight ways to improve your interview process

If you’re having difficulty finding and hiring the right people, then it might be time to review and optimise your hiring process

Author

Barry Chignell

Barry Chignell

Barry Chignell worked in Ciphr's marketing team from 2012-2020.

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Recruitment and retention

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If you’re having difficulty finding and hiring the right people, then it might be time to review and optimise your hiring process

Do you have trouble sourcing the right types of candidates for your roles? Or are you finding that an increasing proportion of your new hires don’t turn out to be the right fit for the role, or decide to move on from your organisation relatively quickly? Then perhaps your recruitment strategy isn’t sufficiently tailored to the needs of your company and your vacancies. Here are our top tips for optimising your interview processes.

 

1. Tailor your job advert to the vacancy – and type of talent you’re trying to attract

Because the vast majority of job seekers are hunting for a new role online, it’s vital that the wording you choose – include the title of the vacancy – is straightforward and in tune with what candidates will be actively searching for. Make sure the advert contains crucial keywords – think ‘sales manager’ rather than ‘sales guru’, for example – and that it includes useful information such as the workplace address and details of staff benefits. If there are key professional qualifications or experience that’s required for the role, don’t be afraid to state them using language that’s well-known within that particular industry or sector. While it’s tempting to craft lengthy adverts that are packed full of information, being succinct will make you stand out to prospective applicants who are browsing for new roles on their mobile devices.

Read next: Five tips to make your job adverts stand out from the crowd

 

2. Deploy technology to filter your applications to a manageable volume

Despite your best efforts to be honest and transparent about the types of candidates and level of skills and experience you required for a particular role, it’s inevitable that you’ll receive some applications that won’t be up to scratch. If you use an online recruitment system (commonly known as an applicant tracking system, or ATS), you’ll be able to use ‘killer’ screening questions that will filter some of the wheat from the chaff. These might include, for example, questions about applicants’ right to work in the UK, ability to work certain shift patterns, or qualification levels.

 

3. Prepare properly for the interview

Whether you’re interviewing a candidate face-to-face or on the telephone, make sure you familiarise yourself with their CV and cover letter, as well as their answers to any screening questions you might have asked or psychometric or technical tests they’ve completed. It’s likely that they will have put considerable time and effort into preparing for their conversation with you, so it’s only right and respectful that you do the same. Also, the quality of the outcome of the interview itself will be much poorer if you come armed only with generic questions, and ask candidates to spend time going over the same information that they’ve already provided.

 

4. Create a list of core questions to ask each candidate

It can be hard to make entirely subjective decisions when it comes to hiring – bias can always be a factor – so to help you make as fair a decision as possible, you’ll want to ask applicants for the same role the same core group of questions, and score them on a scale. Of course you’ll need to ask each candidate separate follow-up questions to draw out their skills and experiences, but questions related to technical expertise and competencies should remain the same. Write one core list of questions, then take a fresh copy with you to each interview and take comprehensive notes. You can then compare all the answers once the interview round is complete.

 

5. Make a good impression

Any interview, but especially face-to-face interviews, are as much about you and your organisation making a good first impression on the candidate as the candidate making a good impression on you. After all, you wouldn’t want your ideal candidate put off by your ‘sweatpants are ok’ approach to casual Fridays, or a collection of dirty mugs in the meeting room – would you? So put your best foot forward and be sure to tidy up your office and meeting room – and yourself – before greeting applicants.

 

6. Answer questions as honestly as possible

Although you’ll be ‘selling’ the role and your organisation during the interview process, you don’t want to come across as being overly positive and inauthentic. Similarly, you might need to answer tricky questions without giving a negative impression. If you find yourself repeatedly facing difficult questions about the role, organisational culture, ways of working or company benefits, for example, then you might need to put your recruitment drive on hold temporarily and focus on addressing these factors instead.

 

7. Follow up with every interviewee, as quickly as possible

Sometimes it can take a few days to make a decision about candidates – such as when crucial decision-makers are on holiday, or you need to secure extra budget to hire the right person. But the job market moves quickly, and candidates who are left in the dark about the status of their application might quickly move on to a competitor or, perhaps even worse, discuss their negative experience with your organisation with their friends, family or professional network. So be courteous and treat candidates as you would want to be treated; maintain contact – even if it’s just to say that a decision has been delayed – and when you do reach a decision, be sure to offer unsuccessful candidates feedback about their interviews and areas where they could improve. According to a August 2019 poll by Reed, just 8% of UK job-seekers consistently receive feedback from prospective employers; 78% said they expect to be told if their application is unsuccessful.

Maintaining positive relationships is especially important if you have multiple great candidates but only one vacancy; if there’s a chance that other, similar roles might open up in the future, you’ll want to put yourself in a position where not only can you return to them in future, but they’d be receptive to your approach.

 

8. Round off the experience with a brilliant induction programme

So you’ve found the perfect candidate and they’ve accepted the role. Job done? Not quite. You’ll want to design and deliver the best possible onboarding programme so they feel welcomed into your organisation, and get settled and become a productive team member as quickly as possible. Specialist onboarding software can help lighten the load and automate crucial processes, while personalising the onboarding experience as far as possible will help new starters feel at home right away.

This article was first published in March 2016. It was updated in November 2019 for freshness, clarity and accuracy.