Hiring people can be expensive, time-consuming and the person you’re employing is never 100% guaranteed to succeed. With that in mind, it’s logical that employers want to be as comprehensive as possible with their interviews, to ensure the person they are engaging is going to be the right hire.
However, more often than not, having a long, protracted interview process made up of multiple interviews with a variety of different stakeholders actually plays against this goal. According to a report by Glassdoor, the average interview process in Australia takes 27.9 days from start to finish. Research shows that the top talent is often gone within ten days, so this approach can cause good quality candidates to drop out of the process either out of frustration or because they have already secured a role with a more efficient company that has a well-oiled hiring processes
As you’re forming your interview strategy, it’s important that you take the time of your process into consideration and focus on the quality as opposed to quantity. Invariably, when you’re looking to secure top candidates, it’s not a question of “how many interviews are too many?” but rather of finding the middle ground between securing all of the information you need, whilst also not negatively impacting your chances of hiring the best person.
Most companies’ interview processes involve a number of different rounds, which might be supplemented by tests or assessments. The theory is that this attention to detail will give you a better overview of a candidate’s skills, personality and experience; however, this also needs to be balanced with the amount of time each step of the process takes. Too quick, and you may end up hiring a candidate that isn’t appropriate for the role; too lengthy, and you might just find that the preferred candidate is off the market.
If you’ve previously found that you’re losing talent during the interview process, then it might be a good idea to make some changes to your structure. Once you’ve streamlined your process it’s then really important that you clearly communicate with candidates (or your recruiter) what they should expect. Then, even if your interviews are a little protracted, the expectation will have been set early on and will therefore not be viewed so negatively or come as a surprise.
Emphasising quality over quantity when it comes to hiring can pay serious dividends, and the same ethos should be applied to your interview technique. If you have the opportunity to ask every question you need to ask in the one interview, then there’s no reason not to do this. Similarly, if a candidate answers each one of your questions satisfactorily, and you’re happy with the outcome in every way, then it’s unlikely that you’ll learn anything new if you bring them in for another meeting with the same stakeholders.
Although it may seem like a good idea to confirm your decision with another interview, in practice, there needs to be a clear agenda to a second meeting. If there isn’t, and the same interview largely is repeated, this may stretch the candidate’s patience and increase the likelihood that they’ll take their skills elsewhere. Not only could this mean that you may miss out on your preferred candidate, but it also risks damaging your brand’s employment reputation if they tell their peers about their bad experience. It is important to remember that an interview is as much for a candidate’s benefit as it is for the company hiring. If you think you’ve found the right person after a first round interview, but would feel more comfortable having another meeting; meet up for an informal coffee. Offer this as an opportunity for them to ask any remaining questions whilst getting to know them outside of an interview room. You might see a different person, for better or for worse.
One of the main reasons companies hold multiple rounds of interviews with candidates is to get them in front of each of the stakeholders that are involved in the hiring decision. One way around this multi-stage process is to hold group interviews, where all stakeholders interview a candidate at the same time, or to run shorter interviews with each manager one after the other.
Although group or back to back interviews are often maligned for being difficult to put together, chaotic in practice and intimidating for the candidate, this doesn’t have to be the case. Successful group interviews all come back to effective organisation and communication with the applicant.
The most important area to focus on is ensuring all interviewers are aligned before heading into the interview room, coordinating questions and key points of discussion to avoid repetition and disorganisation. Remember that the candidate’s impression of the interviewers is going to have an impact on their own performance in the interview, so making sure you create an environment where the candidate can be comfortable is how you’ll get the best insight into their skills and personality.
It’s critically important to get it right first time when hiring, so the appeal of running round after round of interviews is certainly understandable. However, in a buoyant job market like the Sydney Accounting sector, a protracted hiring process is your worst enemy if you want to attract top talent. Instead of leaving your pool of candidates exhausted and frustrated, take steps to reduce time wastage and prioritise clear communication with both applicants and internal stakeholders. If you’re looking for assistance in streamlining your interview process, please feel free to get in touch with the team at Richard Lloyd.
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