Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Hiring 101 – 6: the hiring process itself – 3: first round interviews

Posted in HR and personnel by Timothy Platt on July 1, 2012

This is my sixth installment in a series on hiring best practices (see HR and Personnel, postings 93 and scattered following for parts 1-5.) I wrote in Part 5: the second stage candidate selection process about selecting the job applicants who you would want to bring forward to the interviewing phase in your candidate selection and hiring process, and I began a discussion there of the interviewing process itself with some notes on phone interviewing. To round out that part of this overall discussion I add that:

• Phone interviews can be seen as a cost-effective way to cull down the list of candidates under consideration so you only have to cover the expenses of bringing in the best and most promising for face to face meetings. With air travel and overnight lodging for out of state candidates that can add up to a significant expense so this can at least in principle make a positive difference.
• But phone interviews, and even video meetings as available through resources such as Skype are limiting for what you can learn about your candidates and for what they can learn about you and your business.
• In that, remember that the candidates you would most want to hire are in most cases the same people who your competitors and others would most want to hire too. When you are interviewing them they are interviewing you too. So good and informative impressions are important in both directions.
• For regular voice only phone interviews, information flow can be particularly limited, and you cannot see body language or learn much of interpersonal skills. And the candidate on the other end of the conversation cannot see the setting they would work in or the corporate culture and interpersonal sides of your business either.
• The more important soft skills are for a hire, the more important these gaps – when you are hiring strictly for technical and hands-on skills they are less so, but that type of hire is becoming increasingly rare and particularly as such positions are most easily commoditized and outsourced.

So whether you start with phone interviews or move directly to face to face interviews, one way or other most serious hiring endeavors end up bringing candidates in to interview on-site at your business and with pertinent stakeholders directly involved.

I have, I add, been interviewed face to face away from the business itself by hiring managers – generally executives who were already traveling to my area for other business reasons too. Consider this another option, somewhere between phone and video conference interviews, and face to face meetings in the home office.

Note with that point that there is a wide range of interviewing options available and to both hiring business and to job seeking candidates:

• With the most limited framed by standard phone interviews by low level HR staff members as simple screening interviews,
• And the most open and informative face to face and at the business, and directly including meetings with the hiring manager and key stakeholders.
• In between are online video meetings and face to face meetings in neutral, third party settings.

Ultimately, your goal should be to bring your best candidates together with the hiring manager and with all stakeholders who have to be able to sign-off on and agree to the hire that comes from this process. I strongly recommend that you not select which of these interview types you employ strictly on the basis of immediate cost per interview alone, but rather that you decide your interviewing strategies on the basis of overall value and for both you and the candidates you are competing for.

Note that I have not written up to here about what to ask in an interview, or about what types of conversations to develop or encourage in this part of the hiring process.

• You want to ask as a representative of the hiring business, the questions you would need answers to, in order to know that a candidate can do the job, and that this is a person the people at your business can work with.
• Just as importantly, you want to find and hire a candidate who is interested enough and knowledgeable enough about your business to ask good questions. You want someone who really wants that job and who displays an interest and enthusiasm for working with you at it.

I add that I have already posted on a range of interview issues such as 360 degree interviews and from both the hiring business and manager’s perspective and from the job candidate’s perspective.

I am going to turn next to the issues of hiring negotiations, and note two points in anticipation of that. The first is that every step of the hiring process can be seen as a negotiations step, and this next interviewing stage where you focus on the people you would in all likelihood be satisfied with as hires, simply brings an already ongoing negotiations process into tight focus. And the second is that as background material for this series, I have already written about at least a few of the issues that have to be effectively covered in good hiring negotiations (see for example, Negotiating What You Can Offer as a Hiring Manager in Building and Maintaining Great Teams and Negotiating What You Can Offer as a Hiring Manager in an Ongoing Social Context.) I will be referring back to them as I continue this discussion.

You can find this posting and series at HR and Personnel, and also see Business Strategy and Operations and its continuation at Business Strategy and Operations – 2.

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