Interview (1)

The interview is often the first time a candidate has a face-to-face interaction with your business. If that person has a negative experience during the process, all your effort up to that point to portray your company as a great place to work will be swiftly undone, says Mehul Patel, CEO, Hired

And in the connected world we live in, experiences – good or bad – can easily be shared with others. An HMV employee famously hijacked the company’s Twitter account after being told they’d been made redundant. An extreme example, yes, but a stark reminder that one person with enough motivation can do a lot of harm to your employer brand.

Here are five simple but powerful steps you can make sure you leave interviewees feeling positive about your business, whether you hire them or not.

  1. Avoid repetition
If you have a candidate coming in to meet multiple people, make sure each interviewer has a different focus area to the one before. Nothing screams ‘generic interview process’ like hearing the same question twice.

You want them to feel like you’re trying to gain a broad and genuine understanding of what they can bring to the team, not reading off a script.

Communication is critical here. If individual interviewers don’t talk to each other between each stage of the process, they’ll have no way of knowing what has and hasn’t been covered in previous conversations.

  1. Make it personalised
It’s easy to offer someone a cup of coffee when they come through the door, and you absolutely should. But it pays to go the extra mile when thinking about how to welcome a candidate.

At Hired we’ve created an entire interview kit to address this. When people arrive we give them a bag full of things to help get them through the day: a healthy snack for brain food, a bottle of water to keep them hydrated, a t-shirt and a personal note from the interviewer to help put them at ease. It’s such a simple idea but it really works.

On a similar note, if somebody is coming in from another town or city we include a pamphlet with information about our local area: places to go for happy hour, where to go for the best food in London, that kind of thing. We want it to be a fun experience for them right from the beginning.

  1. Don’t hesitate on hiring decisions
If you meet a great candidate early in the hiring process, the tendency is to keep them ‘warm’ while interviewing other people. That’s human nature – you’re thinking “what if the next person is even better?”

But you have to shake that mindset. Hedging your bets in this way can have a negative impact for all parties. The candidate is left waiting, perhaps beginning to question whether you’re interested. And in that time they could start to question whether yours is actually the right company for them after all.

In my experience you rarely find a better candidate than the one you originally felt good about. Go with your gut. If somebody seems a great fit then hire them, even if they happen to be the first applicant to come through the door.

Since we started encouraging our own hiring managers to take this approach, our fill rate has skyrocketed and our time to hire has gone way down.

  1. Don’t just listen to feedback – react to it
Your employer brand is important, but this isn’t about simply being seen to be a great place to work. Your actions should reflect your rhetoric.

One thing we’ve found really effective is reacting to every single review we get on Glassdoor, whether they’re positive or raising valid concerns – not just writing a reply but actually changing how we interview people based on the comments we receive.

It’s been a tough process but a powerful one. Doing something like this shows you don’t only care about branding yourself as a company that listens to candidate feedback – you actually are one.

  1. Remember the little things
Small gestures can have a big impact on the way someone feels about your interview process.

We never throw somebody straight into an interview. They always get 15 to 30 minutes to sit down and have a coffee with someone who has no involvement in the hiring process. That person sets the stage and has some casual conversation with the candidate – asks them how their week is going, why they’re interested in hired and so on – before the interview starts.

It means the candidate feels relaxed and happy by the time they get to the important part, which is critical – particularly for technical roles where interviews can sometimes be quite intense.