5 Ways to Improve Your Candidate’s Interview Experience

Hire the right people, and your company thrives. Hire the wrong people, and you’re dealing with employee turnover, which can cost you serious money — six to nine month’s salary for that position. Put even more simply, an unfilled position, or a position with high turnover, will bleed money until you fill it.

Why should candidates navigate your arduous interview experience when there are so many other options available to them? The job market right now favors job-seekers; jobs need them more than they need jobs. With 9.3 million job openings in the United States alone, there’s plenty of “pickings” for highly-employable candidates. We’ve got five ways for you to fix your interviews — transparency, equity, right-fit, effort, and continuous improvement — that you can implement to refine your processes, and hopefully hire a great employee.

How the interview experience makes or breaks your hiring process

You need to know what’s wrong with your interviews before you can fix them. Below, we’ll briefly discuss what makes a bad interview experience and then go over ways in which you can fix your own processes. So come with an open mind, maybe a mirror, and be ready to implement changes.

What makes a bad interview process

Poor communication when scheduling

Getting a foot in the door is impossible when you’re playing cat and mouse with your candidates. People are busy, and schedules are up in the air — don’t let a busy Thursday cost you the right person.

Implicit bias in hiring

Bias isn’t just ugly — it’s also expensive. At Fortune 500 companies, it’s estimated that bias in hiring can cost companies north of $2.8 million dollars. Even if you think you’ve “solved bias” in hiring, you might still be suffering from implicit bias in your workflows, which can hurt your bottom line.

Not asking “soft” questions

If you’re only focused on what the candidate will be doing on the job, and not how they’ll thrive in your work environment and gel with the team, you’re doing yourself (and the candidate) a major disservice.

Not letting the candidate ask questions

People — especially potential new hires — have a thousand questions, and an hour is only so much time to get those questions out. Don’t block the candidate from asking questions. Instead, go a step further.

Not refining your processes

Albert Einstein once said, “Once you stop learning, you start dying.” The same is true of people and organizations. We’ve got recommendations for how you can keep learning and refining your processes to keep those great candidates coming and your business chugging.

Five ways to improve your interview process

It’s easy to say in general terms that you want to improve your interview process, but usually a complete overhaul isn’t practical, and it’s difficult to know what you can do today to make an impact. We’ve gathered a few specific actions you can take to make measurable improvements quickly. 

1. Focus on aligning topics and questions to get the most out of your interviews

Interview processes are layered. Often, there are at least two, maybe three rounds of interviews (with some practicals sprinkled in between) before a final offer. Candidates value their time, and as a common courtesy, you should do the same. After all, it’s usually the hiring team that dictates the cadence of the interviews, not the other way around.

When we say “align topics and questions,” what we mean is this: Sit down with your hiring team and make sure that the same question isn’t being asked twice. Ensure that you’re asking the right questions at each stage of the interview to assess fit and whether or not the candidate is ready for the next round of interviews. Get different — but connected — information from each step of the candidate’s journey.

For example, you might save your broad questions for the phone screen: Ask about their experience and qualifications—get a high-level overview of them as a candidate. Then, for the next round, you can start getting more specific about the traits and qualities required for role itself. If there’s a third round, you can start to ask values-based questions.

2. Tackle implicit bias proactively

When we see bias, there’s a natural gut reaction to condemn it and rectify it. But that’s only explicit bias. Implicit bias — bias we may not even be conscious of — is dangerous, and it can seriously impact your hiring outcomes. The University of Florida has identified four different types of bias implicit bias that might hinder your hiring process.

Bias type: stereotyping

Stereotyping is impressing behaviors, opinions, or reactions on a given group of people.

Bias type: halo/pitchfork effect

The halo effect occurs when a strong quality or point of the candidate influences the whole interview. By contrast, the pitchfork effect occurs when a negative quality or point influences the interview.

Bias type: nonverbal bias

Body language and personal appearance can influence the results of an interview. Candidates with certain types of clothes, haircuts, tattoos, etc., may be victims of nonverbal bias.

Bias type: “like me” syndrome

When an interviewer is able to see a little bit of themselves, their experiences, likes, dislikes, or behaviors in a candidate, they’re much more likely to have a favorable impression of the candidate regardless of the candidate’s merit.

But it can go deeper than the four types of bias. Research from BrightHire highlights ways in which men dominate interviews, consciously or unconsciously. “When men interviewed, they spoke 30% more words than they did when talking to another man,” the study reads. It goes on to say that meetings between men lasted 15% longer than meetings when a woman was the interviewer, and “…when interacting with women, male interviewers dominated 60% of the discussion.”

So how can you reduce implicit bias and provide a better interview experience at the same time?

  1. Write job descriptions that avoid gendered language, including words like “dominate,” “own,” and “rockstar.”
  2. Use phone screens before in-person or video interviews to help cut down on potential nonverbal biases.
  3. Conduct panel interviews so one person’s bias can’t dominate the entire process.
  4. Consider a more structured approach to your calls by using tools to create an interview roadmap that scales across all interviews you do. This will help establish a candidate-agnostic framework to cut bias out of your hiring, and establish consistency in your interviewing.

3. Move past culture fit to culture add

Someone who is a good culture fit is perceived to be well equipped to succeed within the values framework and work environment of your organization. Unfortunately, the term ‘culture fit’ has been misinterpreted to mean hiring someone you think you could be friends with, and someone who matches your personality. Hiring for culture fit in this way is riddled with bias and reduces diversity of skill and thought within your organization.

Instead, focus on what skills and attributes someone can bring to your workplace that aren’t already overrepresented. That’s where we get to culture add. It’s also important to be honest with candidates about the work environment itself and not just the type of work they’re going to be doing, while also being mindful that the status quo isn’t set in stone. Find out:

  • What ignites their passions?
  • Does the candidate embody your company values, or do they simply echo company culture?
  • Do they work collaboratively or independently?
  • What initially drew them to this role?

There’s a full list of great cultural and personal questions here.

4. Let them have the last word — and then offer a second opportunity to ask questions After the Interview

It’s standard practice to open up the floor for questions toward the end of the interview. It communicates interest and respect for the candidate’s time. It also allows you to gauge the candidate’s curiosity, their values, and how much research they’ve done on your company. When crafting a great interview experience, offer your email at the end of the interview, should the candidate have any lingering questions. Gestures like this can go a long way towards facilitating goodwill.

5. Collect post-interview feedback

Post-Interview feedback is crucial to refining your hiring process. Sometimes candidates don’t work out, and sometimes other, more enticing offers come through. The important takeaway from all these interactions is learning something for next time.

What’s the best way to collect feedback? A tried and true method is to utilize post-interview surveys and exit interviews to fine-tune your processes. In your surveys and interviews, ask questions like:

  • The job ad — was it true to the role?
  • What were the candidate’s first impressions of the team and company?
  • Did the recruiter or hiring manager get in touch with the candidate in a reasonable amount of time?
  • Were all the candidate’s questions answered?

Hiring doesn’t have to be a gauntlet — for you OR the candidate

It all seems straightforward. Transparency in scheduling, interviewing without bias, evaluating for cultural fit, answering questions outside the interview, and collecting consistent feedback — these are the hallmarks of a great interview experience. But what it really boils down to is being helpful, respectful, and transparent during hiring. Remember, it’s a race to the top, not a race to see who can create the most difficult or arduous process.

More ideas from BrightHire