Hiring a well-qualified prospect who doesn’t meet expectations is a waste of time, effort, money and productivity. The cost of getting it wrong is why it’s important to get it right – the first time. Just because a candidate has an impressive resume and interviews well doesn’t necessarily mean they will be the best fit for the job.
The hiring process starts with reviewing myriad resumes, and then speaking with a portion of the applicants during a telephone, pre-screening conversation. Based on the outcomes, appropriate candidates are invited to in-person interviews.
When the in-person interviews conclude, the next phase – the importance of which cannot be overemphasized – is the post-interview evaluation.
This is when all the information and impressions gathered by your hiring team is shared, reviewed and discussed, to reach a consensus on each candidate’s suitability for joining the organization.
It’s important to have a form or checklist for members of your hiring team to use when interviewing candidates. Some organizations use a points scoring system, where candidates are ranked from one to five for each of the desired attributes. Regardless of the exact approach you use, an evaluation form helps gain an overall picture of a candidate’s capabilities and how likely it is they will be a good fit.
Using the required qualifications for the position, it isn’t difficult to decide on evaluation criteria. Formalizing each step of the process will help reduce the risk of making a bad hire, as well as ensure that everyone involved in the interview process is using the same criteria.
Key Elements to Consider in a Post-Interview Evaluation
By reaching the in-person interview phase of the hiring process, each candidate presumably has the experience and skills needed for the position. The post-interview evaluation looks more closely at the nuances that you and your hiring team observed.
Did Their Body Language Signal Red Flags?
Body language is a powerful form of communication that provides additional insight into a candidate’s personality and suitability for joining your organization.
As an example, during the face-to-face interview, take note of the candidate’s posture. An eager candidate will lean forward, listen closely to your questions and then reply. Slouching and restlessness are signs of a lack of engagement, which is not something you typically want in a new hire.
Eye contact during the face-to-face interview phase is also another clue to watch for: sustained eye contact conveys transparency and honesty. Poor eye contact suggests that the candidate might not be completely truthful.
Other body language indicators to watch for are fidgeting and touching face and hair excessively: they suggest that the candidate is nervous and lacks self-confidence.
How Do They Behave Outside the Interview Setting?
Invite the candidate to join you and the hiring team members or employees for coffee or lunch. Observe the communication dynamics – how the candidate listens and responds is a great indication of how they might work together on a day-to-day basis.
Anyone who joins your company will probably have to work with employees from different departments or with your clients and customers. Along with being friendly and generally positive, it’s important to ensure that the candidate not only has the required skills and experience but is also the right behavioral fit for your organization’s culture.
Assess Each Candidate’s Communication Skills
For most jobs, communication skills are important. It’s hard to work as a team if people aren’t communicating well. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers’ Job Outlook 2016 Report, employers ranked verbal communication skills as the most important quality for employees to have.
Your candidate interactions have been minimal prior to the in-person interview. Here are some tips on gauging a candidate’s communication skills.
When you meet them for the first time, be sure to note the initial impression they make. A candidate’s ‘voice’ – their unique way of communicating – should be consistent and reflected in how they wrote their resume and how they verbally interact in an interview setting.
Effective communication requires being a good listener. Someone who struggles with communicating effectively will respond to whatever they think is being asked, without stopping to consider if they have it right or asking clarifying questions. Pay close attention to both the substance of a candidate’s response and whether it actually answers the question you asked.
Consider Their Level of Enthusiasm
The person you decide to hire should be excited to join your company and have a desire to evolve as a professional. They should want to learn as much as possible about your operations so they can share ideas that benefit both themselves as a professional and the company as a whole.
Review Their Social Media Engagement
Most employers are now looking at candidates’ social media presence as one part of the hiring process.
Today’s Millennials (born between 1981 and 1996) make up roughly 36% of the U.S. workforce, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and they will account for 75% of the global workforce by 2025. Given that this group of individuals has grown up actively communicating via social media, reviewing their use of it can confirm impressions made during the telephone pre-screening and in-person interview. Or it can possibly raise any number of reasons why the candidate may not be a good fit.
Filter Through Top Candidates with Critical-Thinking Questions
It’s useful to ask candidates questions about scenarios that could conceivably happen at your company – especially in the role the person is applying for – and then evaluate the response.
Here are some examples of questions you can ask, after modifying them for your business-specific circumstances:
What changes would you make if you ran the company?
How would you resolve this problem the company is currently facing?
How would you address this potential operational scenario?
Interview questions like these provide insight into how a candidate might deal with sensitive topics or difficult situations. Answers that are straightforward and clear show the candidate can communicate. An evasive answer is cause for concern.
These types of questions also reveal the candidate’s interest and commitment to the employment opportunity. Serious candidates will have done due-diligence research on your company so they should be able to demonstrate an understanding of your company, its culture, competitors and clients.
Share Thoughts with Other Interviewers
The post-interview evaluation is the time to meet with your hiring team and compare notes to advance the hiring process. The feedback you receive from your hiring team involved in the face-to-face interviews or off-site meetings will provide objective and factual information to help effectively and accurately rate each candidate.
Encourage Open and Honest Commentary
If you have a range of junior and senior people involved in the interview process, have the senior level participants wait to share their impressions. That should ensure they don’t influence the junior staffers’ willingness to give their honest, first-hand impressions.
Cognitive Biases: Primacy and Recency Effect
It is part of human nature that to help us process information quickly, our brains take short-cuts. This adaptation of humankind’s wonderfully agile brain enables us to make split-second decisions, particularly in stressful or dangerous situations.
In the workplace environment, however, such short-cuts – which are referred to as ‘cognitive biases’ – can produce negative outcomes. That’s particularly true when it comes to recruitment, where they can lead to inaccurate and, in some instances, poor selection decisions.
Bear in mind that cognitive bias is unintentional, very subtle and completely unconscious – but you’ll need to recognize its influence on your hiring decisions.
Two of the most common cognitive biases you should avoid are ‘order effects’. Order effects are the biases that arise due to the timing and order in which information is recalled.
The ‘Primacy Effect’ refers to the tendency to remember the first piece of information we are presented, rather than subsequent pieces of information.
The ‘Recency Effect’ refers to the tendency to better recall information presented more recently than information presented previously.
Although these biases might sound contradictory, either or both can occur in the context of a job interview. The result is usually that more weight is given to the first and last pieces of information an interviewee provides, to the detriment of the information in the middle.
Other Cognitive Biases
Among the many other cognitive biases to try to avoid are the ‘Halo Error’ and the ‘First Impression Error’.
The Halo Error
It’s not uncommon for candidates to ‘embellish’ their accomplishments. Taking credit for helping a start-up grow into a multi-million dollar operation is impressive and admirable. Even knowing nothing else about the individual, they certainly sound like a great addition to your team.
However, keep in mind what is called the called the ‘Halo Error’ – it’s the assumption that a positive attribute or impressive accomplishment in one area implies aptitude in other unrelated areas.
First Impression Error
Research has indicated that interviewers make decisions about candidates very quickly, in fact in the first 30 seconds to 2.5 minutes. This tendency to make initial judgments, positive or negative, about a candidate in those first few moments is called ‘first impression error’.
After that first impression is made, most hiring managers will then spend the remainder of the interview searching for validation of their initial decision. First impression error is a major obstacle to developing accurate perceptions of candidates and making a truly informed decision.
The factors that influence that first impression, such as physical presentation, demeanor, and tone of voice, aren’t reliable indicators of job performance.
Leave on a Good Note by Sending a Follow-Up Message
Let candidates know what they can expect: A pet peeve of many job seekers is that they are left ‘hanging’ after an interview, or they are promised follow-up that never comes. If the candidate is a good fit, be clear about what the next steps will be. If the candidate is not a good fit, communicate that in a positive and genuine manner in a personalized letter or email.
Follow-Ups Help Close any Open Loops
When you’re applying to jobs, the worst feeling in the world is uncertainty – which is why you should inform candidates of decisions as soon as possible. Whatever your decision, it should be communicated to the candidate.
A timely letter or email letting them know could really make a huge difference to your company’s image as an employer.
Show Respect to the Candidate
The application process can be a stressful, time-consuming experience for all parties.
While a personalized response to each candidate is ideal, it’s not always feasible. Most corporate job openings typically attract 250 resumes – of these candidates, usually a half dozen will ultimately be selected for a face-to-face interview, and only one will be offered the job. While it might seem a time-intensive task to send personalized responses to 250 applicants, there are tools that can automate the process.
Reading Their Response Helps Understand Their Mindset
In instances where candidates respond to follow-up communications, their replies can provide insight into how they felt about the process, and where you could possibly make improvements. Don’t underestimate the value of this information that could help you in future recruitment efforts.
Minimizes Negative Review on Hiring Sites
The job market is very competitive when it comes to great candidates. In many ways, your recruitment efforts are just as much about ‘selling’ your organization as it is about candidates trying to ‘sell’ themselves.
Don’t forget that your interview process reflects the value your company places on each candidate and, by extension, each employee. Be a good ambassador for your company by conducting a professional interview, communicating honestly, and basing hiring decisions on an honest evaluation of each candidate’s capabilities. Not only will you make great hires, but you’ll build goodwill in the community and enhance your future recruiting efforts.
The Benefits of a Post-Interview Evaluation
Your company is probably expending considerable time and resources in your hiring efforts. After conducting resume reviews, telephone pre-screening, in-person interviews with well-considered behavior and experience-related questions and other steps in the process, the post-interview evaluation is where all that information is shared and judged on its merit.
Following a process like this from start to finish has a number of significant benefits:
- Your hiring decision is based on objective information that the candidate’s skills match your job opening and company culture, and not because they are an excellent resume writer.
- By involving the different members of your hiring team and using predetermined evaluation questions, you receive different perspectives on the candidate’s suitability and helps identify any areas of concern.
- Ensures your hiring process is in compliance with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
- Streamlines the process and ensures a better fit for new staff – which increases employee retention and productivity.
- Helps avoid costly hiring mistakes.
With so much at stake, you should evaluate your hiring practices and implement improvements and refinements. By taking those steps, your process will be more efficient and more likely to identify the best candidate.