Hold Evening Interviews: Interview Candidates When They’re Available

Managers often wonder why they have a hard time landing the best candidates. One of the biggest reasons is that delays, caused by the difficulty in finding convenient times when both parties are available for interviews, cause a good number of the top candidates to drop out of the hiring process. Cutting Interview Delays With Night and Weekend Interviews Scheduling interviews is difficult and time-consuming, especially for currently employed candidates who have difficulty in finding the time to leave their current job for an interview. Employees hate to sneak around and “lie” to their current boss (about why they are leaving early) in order to participate in an interview. Hiring managers are also busy, and they too have difficulty in finding time to interview. One tool that can help with both of these scheduling problems is to hold some interviews at night and on weekends.

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Storeowners and customer service people have long known that extended hours (outside the 8 a.m.?5 p.m. norm) can dramatically increase attendance. The same is true for interviews. You want to hire the best people, but because they are good at what they do, they are often the busiest and the hardest to schedule. If you want to attract them you need to be flexible, and you must work around their current job and time constraints. If you, as a manager can allocate some after hours or weekend time to interviewing, you can dramatically increase the number and the quality of the candidates you interview. Advantages of Non-Peak Interviews Non-peak interviews have several advantages, including:

  1. Increased interview attendance by employed people who can’t normally get away from their current job
  2. Reduced last-minute cancellations by both candidates and managers due to last-minute work conflicts
  3. More time for the interview, because there’s no rush to return to work
  4. A different approach makes you stand out uniquely among competitors. It also makes you appear flexible to outside people (even to those who don’t apply).
  5. Because there is more parking and less traffic after hours, you can increase the number of candidates you attract.
  6. Fewer interruptions by the staff of a harried manager
  7. Increased diversity of interviewees, because one parent can provide child care while the other interviews. Also, low income people who cannot afford to miss a day of work are more likely to attend interviews.

Possible Action Steps For Off-Hour Interviews

  • Place notices of the availability of after hours interviews in ads, job descriptions, and on websites.
  • Place a sign near the application forms informing potential applicants of the available interview hours.
  • Set aside two weeknights and one Saturday per month for interviews
  • Track the quality, diversity, and quantity of hires as a result of after hours interviews.
  • Recognize and reward managers who offer off-hour interviews
  • Consider holding the interviews in suburban or other convenient locations (like at the mall or a hotel).
  • Offer the off-hour “slots” first to the most qualified candidates
  • Also consider guaranteeing interviews to all applicants (to alleviate the fear of rejection some potential applicants have of not even getting called for an interview).
  • Schedule HR people to attend, so same-day offers can be made for the top candidates.
  • Consider interviewing for jobs even where there is no current opening in order to “pre-qualify” top talent.

Conclusion Hiring can be one of the least customer friendly processes in HR. Instead of ignoring the difficulty of interview scheduling, smart managers can take advantage of the shortsightedness of others and provide off-hours interviewing. You will find that the candidates appreciate the gesture and that you (as a manager) are rewarded with better hires and a positive ROI!

Dr. John Sullivan, professor, author, corporate speaker, and advisor, is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high-business-impact talent management solutions.

He’s a prolific author with over 900 articles and 10 books covering all areas of talent management. He has written over a dozen white papers, conducted over 50 webinars, dozens of workshops, and he has been featured in over 35 videos. He is an engaging corporate speaker who has excited audiences at over 300 corporations/ organizations in 30 countries on all six continents. His ideas have appeared in every major business source including the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, BusinessWeek, Fast Company, CFO, Inc., NY Times, SmartMoney, USA Today, HBR, and the Financial Times. In addition, he writes for the WSJ Experts column. He has been interviewed on CNN and the CBS and ABC nightly news, NPR, as well many local TV and radio outlets. Fast Company called him the "Michael Jordan of Hiring," Staffing.org called him “the father of HR metrics,” and SHRM called him “One of the industry's most respected strategists." He was selected among HR’s “Top 10 Leading Thinkers” and he was ranked No. 8 among the top 25 online influencers in talent management. He served as the Chief Talent Officer of Agilent Technologies, the HP spinoff with 43,000 employees, and he was the CEO of the Business Development Center, a minority business consulting firm in Bakersfield, California. He is currently a Professor of Management at San Francisco State (1982 – present). His articles can be found all over the Internet and on his popular website www.drjohnsullivan.com and on www.ere.net. He lives in Pacifica, California.