4 Ways to Make Interviewing a 2-Way Street

So much information is thrown at job seekers on how to interview: here is how to dress; here is what to say; this is the answer to the million-dollar salary question; be sure to send a thank-you letter, etc.  Then there are the horrid interview stories that everyone consistently shares with one another and laughs at: the girl who brought her cat into an interview, the recent college graduate who mid-way through the interview takes a call on his cell phone, the gentleman who shows up dressed in shorts — just to name a few recruiting water cooler stories.

Yet, hardly if ever does anyone, especially recruiters, HR professionals or hiring managers stop to look at themselves and analyze their own behavior.

In fact, the majority of hiring professionals act as if they are riding on a high horse, and job seekers should be at their mercy.  Ironically, today as I am writing this blog — in my email box appeared an article written by Jerome Ternynck, CEO of SmartRecruiters, on the topic of Crafting a High-Performance Culture. Ternynck talks about hiring the best, and that “A” players hire “A” players and that “B” players hire “C” and “D” players.

Whether you are a recruiter, an HR professional, or a hiring manager — you should know that an interview is a two way street. It is a middle meeting where you as the hiring professional have the opportunity to meet a potential employee and find out who they are and what they have experienced and accomplished. But it is not only about you, as this is also the time for a prospective employee to find out about you and what you are about, what challenges you are facing in the company or in your department, and also, very importantly … if they like you. In your capacity as a hiring/interviewing authority, you too have to be prepared, on time, articulate, and professional. So just as we advise job seekers with do and do not tips, here are some great tips for all recruiters, HR pros, and hiring managers alike:

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  1. Be on time  yes, I already know you are busy and short staffed and everything else that everyone else is as well. Regardless, this is the first impression of you and perhaps how working with you will be. More than likely the interview has been on your calendar for a few days already, so ensure you are on time and not rushing around like a mad person.
  2. Be prepared — be sure to have reviewed the candidate’s resume prior to the meeting.  Perhaps you can connect with them via LinkedIn, and even better, perhaps you can have some probing and intelligent questions prepared to ask. Questions that are strategic and can give you a good idea on this person’s skill set and experience. Please don’t shoot from the hip and ask random questions that are rudimentary and tell the interviewee that you are unprepared.
  3. Pay attention — the emphasis of good eye contact is not only for the interviewee. If you are consistently gazing out the window or watching people pass by outside in the hall or checking your phone … then more than likely you are not paying attention. Moreover, that story that keeps making the rounds about the new college grad answering his cell phone in the middle of an interview? Well hiring managers do it to; it has happened to me and it has happened to others. No kidding: right in the middle of an interview the lady says, “Hold on” and takes a cell phone call of non-importance. Guess who she was: the head of talent acquisition. I knew I would have no further interest in the role nor even think about accepting a position from her and the company she works for.
  4. Be courteous  communication is a two-way street. Interviewees are advised to send thank-you letters post interview, and whether you receive a thank-you letter via email or via snail mail — an acknowledgement of receipt should be provided. If one says thank you, the reply should be that you are welcome. It takes two seconds to respond to an email.

I cannot stress enough how important the candidate experience piece is. Some organizations will spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on career sites, consultants, technology, and employment branding all in the name of building this super “candidate experience.” Yet, the majority of companies fail to ensure proper candidate communications, hiring manager training, and proper face-to-face interaction. It’s not hard to do, nor is it rocket science. It is a simple recipe of common sense, courtesy, and relationship building.

If I was given a quarter from every hiring manager, recruiter, or HR pro who says they can’t find good talent,  but then who behaves outside of the four points I described above ,I wouldn’t be writing this article. I would be retired in some tropical island. So heed my advice and if you are riding a high horse, step down and remember than an interview is a two-way street and that just as you are making a decision on whether to hire an individual, they too are making a decision as to whether you are one they will ultimately want to work with.

Morgan Hoogvelt currently serves as director, global talent acquisition for ESAB, a leading engineering company. Drawing on his expertise in human capital strategy, executive search, RPO, essential hiring practices, candidate sourcing, Internet recruiting, and social networking, he provides organizations targeted, best-of-class solutions, and employment branding strategies that help his clients meet the challenges of recruiting, technology, and retaining and rewarding top talent. He is also passionate about delivering excellent customer service and building positive, productive relationships. He can be contacted at morgan.hoogvelt@esab.com

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