Paul Pompeo

THE COMPANY • THE CANDIDATE

Paul Pompeo

Hiring High Ground Seven errors for companies to avoid during the interview process

Hiring great candidates in today’s market is tough. If you’ve tried hiring in our industry over the past five to eight years, you have experienced this. I recently spoke at the NAILD’s Annual Conference on the topic of “The War for Talent,” and—to paraphrase philosopher Jerome Seinfeld who said, “It’s one thing to take the reservation, it’s another thing to hold the reservation”—it’s one thing to interview a candidate, but another to hire the candidate. So, what is the difference between companies who actually hire great candidates and those who let them get away? Here are seven strategic errors we have seen occur during the interview process:

  1. Asking about compensation too early. Asking about compensation on the first interview is never a good move by the candidate, and the same goes for an employer. Just as a candidate asking about dollars implies that money is their main motivation, an interviewer asking implies that a candidate’s compensation is an early “knock-out” factor, which can make your candidate think that an offer from you would be at the lower end of a range.
  2. Not selling candidates on the opportunity. In a market where the demand for strong candidates far exceeds the supply, it’s important to sell any candidate on your position. Don’t be coy about getting candidates excited about the job—it’s better to have everybody leaving an interview wanting the role. You know what they say about first impressions. If you wait until the second interview to begin selling a candidate on your position and company, it may be too late.
  3. Too many interviews in your process. There is such a thing as interview fatigue. Keep your interview process to three or four steps maximum—we recommend two phone meetings and one in-person. We recently encountered an interview process where an HR consultant got so enamored with personality profiles that another company with a more “lean” and focused interview process quickly moved in and hired the candidate.
  4. Too much time between interview steps. Absence doesn’t make the heart grow fonder, at least when it comes to time between interviews. That great candidate you may have had “on the hook” after the first phone meeting—if not scheduled for the next round within seven to 10 days—will often lose interest, be contacted by other companies or get a promotion at her current organization. Keep the process moving rapidly, with no more than seven to 10 days between interview steps.
  5. Not giving prompt feedback. Giving specific feedback about what you liked and perhaps didn’t like about a candidate is important. Doing so promptly—ideally immediately after the interview, or at most within 24 hours— is important because your impressions of a candidate will be fresh in your mind. Candidates who don’t get prompt feedback with some element of detail (not simply “just not a fit”) may lose interest, and candidates who get very delayed feedback (or none at all) may leave the interview process with a negative impression of your company. In a big industry that gets smaller with time, it’s not good to burn any bridges.
  6. Moving too fast. Don’t forget that the interview process is a courtship. One party moving too quickly, even if there is initial mutual interest, can scare the candidate off. While you don’t want an interview process to drag out, don’t skip steps and make the candidate feel like things are “moving too quickly.” In addition, if a candidate feels like you’re over-eager, they may think about testing the market because if you’re that interested, others will be too. Going right from one phone meeting to an in-person meeting is usually too fast unless it’s a local position, and using the “O word” (i.e., offer) too early can also scare off a great and/or passive candidate.
  7. Bad reputation. Sometimes reading your own press can be a good thing. A few years ago we worked with a relatively young company that had experienced an ownership change that—unbeknownst to the new ownership—resulted in negative comments about the company on Glassdoor. Candidates didn’t seem excited when we disclosed the company’s name, and good candidates had surprisingly lackluster interviews. Candidates often research a company using various methods prior to an interview, and the company quickly learned that even when issues have been resolved in real life, they seem to live forever online. Once aware of what was online, the company became very forthcoming about what had occurred in the past during interviews. Candidates appreciated the transparency, which built trust, and they were excited about the changes made and positive results the company had achieved.

    Will these tips guarantee you get all candidates you seek to add to your company or team? Of course not. However, if you are mindful of these suggestions during your interview process, you will likely see your interview success rate with desired candidates improve. For an extra tip that we didn’t have space for here, feel free to email me at paul@pompeo.com.

Reproduced with the permission of LD+A

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