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The perfect interview process

Updated: Dec 11, 2020

Once you’ve found the perfect candidate on paper, it’s time to find out if they stack up to all that they claim to be. Interviews are a crucial part of the hiring process, and they’re important to get right. A lousy interview process can let lacklustre candidates through the cracks, and that can cause more headaches further down the line.

Here are some essential things to remember when planning out your interview process:

Define the role

This is so fundamental but is also often missed. Defining the job role explicitly before posting an opening can drastically reduce the number of unqualified candidates that apply. It’s always wise to ensure that recruiters and hiring managers have the same goals, as this increases the quality of candidates that are put forward.

It’s best to start simple; define the job title, who the employee would report to, what their day-to-day responsibilities are and what you as a business want this person to achieve. If these principles are established early on, it should make the hiring process a lot more streamlined.

Then, the hiring manager can strictly define what skills and experience that a candidate needs. We recommend splitting these into two camps. Firstly, absolute hard requirements (i.e. if they don’t have this they should not go forward.) Secondly, the ideals (i.e. things you would want to look for and so are skills and experience that should be sought, but are not a prerequisite to have in order to be considered.)

How will you evaluate the candidates?

Hiring managers usually know what sort of candidate they’re looking for quite early on, so it’s best to ensure that that information is passed on to the recruiter. Next, comes the big decision about how you’ll evaluate the candidates.

Candidates applying for roles in hyper-growth tech startups often need to be effectively screened before they make it to the interview table. When looking to secure your next A Player Sales Rep it is important to qualify well and qualify early. A basic career history check is simply not good enough! Deep diving into their sales approach, the strength of their network and track record are just some of the things that should be qualified early.

There are lots of different forms that an interview can take. It’s important to be as thorough as possible in as little time as possible.

- Recruiter Screening

The first step in the process is the qualification steps by either an internal recruiter/HR or your external headhunting partner. When we talk about qualification, this is not a cursory 5 minute CV check and quick call. Typically here at Resst, we spend at least 30 mins – 1-hour qualifying candidates suitability. Saving the hiring manager’s precious time in the process and making sure our clients’ really do get best-in-class candidates in the pipe.

- Hiring Manager Screening

A one-on-one meeting with the Hiring Manager is the right next step. It is important to remember that in this first step candidates will be qualifying your business as much as you qualifying them, therefore setting aside at least 45 minutes is advisable (including the time to answer their questions and sell your business to them.) In order to compare talent, we recommend being formulaic in your approach so that you get all the information you need from each candidate to make a decision on who to progress with.

- Presentation Stage

In this stage, you are really testing their fit from a skills perspective. In creating a presentation assignment our advice here is to work backwards, so first, consider what you need to qualify they can do and then put something together that will require them to cover all those points. In terms of interview attendees at this stage, it really depends on the seniority of the role but we would recommend a three-person panel of someone who does the same or similar job already (so a peer), the hiring manager and then someone from the leadership team.

- One-to-One Interviews

In the final step, it is common to have a range of one-to-one interviews that are a chance to test culture/personality/approach fit. This could be on the same day as the presentation or on another day. Here it is good to strike the right balance between having a few different stakeholders in the decision process, but remembering that ‘a horse by committee is a camel’, and too many opinions can lead to inaction. We think three key stakeholders in this process is sufficient to properly test a candidate across different opinions.

Getting the best candidate possible

Having the right interview process is crucial not only to help you qualify who are the top talents, but they are a direct reflection of your company. Put simply, having a good interview process can be a truly defining factor in a candidate accepting a role should you make an offer.

So, what are some key things to remember?

- Your job in an interview process is not only to qualify but continuously sell to them about why they should join your business.

- Act fast. This both shows a strong interest in moving forward but also limits the risks of a competitor securing them by having a quicker interview process.

- Interviews can be challenging and formal, but do not have to be cold. Acting warmly during an interview process not only makes a candidate’s interest higher, but even if they are not of interest to you if they know anyone who is interviewing with your company they will have good things to say. It is a small world!

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