A successful hiring process requires that a lot of pieces be firmly in place. Corporate messaging. Job descriptions. Salary ranges. Benefits packages. Application process. Referral programs. The list goes on...
One very important yet often overlooked item is scheduling, and that is the focus of this post.
While interviewing a candidate recently, I was doing my routine pre-interview preparation and reviewed with whom and when the candidate had already spoken. To my confused dismay, I learned that the candidate had spoken to 5 people already on three separate days. I was to be the 6th interviewer (on day #4), and there was still one more interviewer scheduled for later that week. That's 5 distinct interview periods!!!
After conducting the interview, I immediately reached out to our head of HR and voiced my concerns. Fortunately, he was very receptive and our conversation was productive.
I realize that it can be difficult sometimes to coordinate schedules of multiple interviewers. This can be compounded when there are micro-managers involved who insist on interviewing every candidate even though they are 2-3 levels removed (tip: if this is you, then it means you don't trust your managers, which is a big problem both for you and your managers).
Respect the candidate's time
It is entirely reasonable to have a multi-stage interview process. However, those stages should be few (no more than 3) and be explained to the candidate at the start of the process. Just because the candidate applied for your position doesn't mean they are some kind of desperate hack who is at your scheduling mercy. A candidate deserves respect, and that respect carries through respect for their time and energy. The candidate likely has to take time away from work, family, or other obligations to meet with you.
Don't drag out the process longer than it needs to be. Determine go/no-go breakpoints and follow-up quickly. If a candidate is a no-go, flag that quickly so that you and your team (and the candidate) can move on. If the candidate is a go, get the secondary/final round together ASAP so that you can maintain momentum and not lose the candidate to another company. The longer you drag out the process, the more likely the candidate will find another job or lose interest in your company.
Have a structure
Different roles call for different interview processes. If you're hiring for an SVP of sales at a Fortune 500 company, that process is likely to be different than if you're hiring for a junior developer at a company with 60 employees. Regardless, you should have a process in place for most positions that hiring managers follow. For example:
- Interview 1: Phone Screen with HR/Recruiter
- Interview 2 (within the following week of Interview 1): Phone/video interviews with hiring manager & 1-2 other team members
- Interview 3: (within the following week of Interview 2): In-person final round with remaining interviewers
In less than 3 weeks, you've reached a decision. If you're a startup, this may be even more compressed. Either way, you don't want to drag it out. Also, you want to set expectations with the candidate about the process; this speaks volumes to their perception of you as an organization (remember: the interview goes both ways!).
If you decide not to move forward with a candidate, tell them. Many companies and hiring managers neglect this and just assume that no response is a fair response. Wrong. As a hiring manager or in-house recruiter, you represent your organization. What kind of message does that send to a candidate when you don't even bother to follow-up? Perhaps you don't care about such things. Well there are companies and people that do; they have voices, and those voices matter.
Take it seriously
Do I really need to say this? A quality hire is worth so much more than your schedule for the week. If you're hiring to fill a position, the hiring for that role has to be prioritized by both you and your team of interviewers. If the interviewers aren't willing or able to make time for the interview, then they shouldn't be part of the process. If you aren't willing to orchestrate a timely and efficient process for hiring, then perhaps you should ask yourself: "Do I really need to fill this role?"
After all, if you don't take the process seriously, why should a candidate take you or your organization seriously?