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Blog #10: Find the best talent; train on interviewing techniques

Recently I went through a hiring process for a very interesting opportunity. While in the past it was more about finding a person to do the job, today everybody is searching for the best talents (some may call them ‘Rockstars’). But finding the best people is challenging and once you manage to spot a few, how do you make sure you make the most of the hiring process to actually know if these are the best match for the job? As I view it, one of the main challenges in the hiring process for most organisations is the lack of interviewing techniques amongst ‘non-recruitment’ employees. Unclear organisations’ guidelines towards what it expects from its employees when it comes to interviewing, leads to an insufficient process and lost of good potential candidates along the way.

After working at Google and going through their hiring process, I can definitely say that this company managed to master it. Why? Because at Google they defined a concrete hiring process, while closely incorporating all the levels of the organisation. First, for a googler (a Google employee) to interview a candidate, he/she needs to undergo a training where they learn about how interviews are being done: how to ask the right questions, evaluate, and maximise the time with the candidate. They also shadow a few interviews, while observing the more experienced interviewers doing the magic. Once they’re ready, they follow clear guidelines. I will not enclose the whole process that I experienced, but let’s say that that they come well-prepare with specific questions (usually three), each interview is being done ‘one-on-one’ and doesn’t exceed the 30 minutes cap, and they write every word the candidate says. Afterwards they analyse and draw clear conclusions based on the candidate’s answers they wrote during the interview itself. And the most important thing; they update the candidates on the following steps within several days max, to be respectful to their time.

Interesting, right? I’m not implying that every organisation should adapt the same specific guidelines, but I definitely think that more attention should be given to the process. Therefore, when reflecting on your own hiring procedure and interview guidelines, consider the following: ​

  • Respect your interviewee, and come prepared; you have limited time with the candidate, so ensure you are ready to maximise it.

  • Carefully review the candidate’s CV beforehand to see which points you would like to focus on.

  • Prepare your questions in advance, it’s not a brainstorming session.

  • Don’t ask philosophical questions and expect ‘black or white’ answers.

  • Don’t ask questions that require complex elaboration when you know that the interview is about to end within 1-2 minutes. The candidate might be pressured and rush the answer, which will disappoint you both.

  • Write everything the candidate says, at least in bullet points.

  • Don’t ask questions about commuting time or personal situations. First, it’s not allowed. Second, the answers to these will create the risk of ‘assumptions’.

  • In case you have a follow-up interview with the same candidate, be sure to share some feedback in between the two interviews. You should help the candidate improve on the points you have concerns about. After all, if you meet again that’s a good sign and you want to have the full picture of the candidate’s abilities.

  • Be present, physically but also mentally - ensure you show the candidate that you are fully engaged in the conversation.

  • When possible, create a dialogue; don’t let the candidate answer while you constantly keep your poker face. Show them that you understand the answer they give, reflect, and ask more specific follow-up questions that might showcase the creative thinking of the candidate.

  • Show when you like an answer of the candidate; this will indicate to the candidate that he/she is in the right direction, boost their confidence, and make them provide even better answers to the questions afterwards.

  • Keep the conversation to and from the interview room in a ‘chitchat’ mode; know when the interview starts and finishes. You don’t want to start a crucial discussion in these short-time spams. If needed, you can always have a follow-up call to cover topics you didn’t have the time for.

  • It’s not an FBI interrogation, it’s a job interview. And ideally more than that; a flowing conversation with your future colleague. Be kind.

These are only a few guidelines I formulated from my own personal experience, and I’m sure you can also think about a few more. Together with your peers, define how you would like to approach the interviewing paradigm to create a clear hiring process. This process should not be left solely with your recruiting department but take it through all levels of the organisation.

Getting good talent is not a mission of one team, but it’s the shared purpose of everybody within your organisation, so let’s give them the right knowledge and mindset to do so. Assure your organisation train others on how to interview people and push this as an overall strategy to get the best our of people. Knowing what to ask and how, will truly help you understand the why. And remember, Candidates spend good hours on preparing, commuting, and thinking about the unique opportunity you might offer them. Respect their efforts.

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