Interviewees know that perhaps the most important part of the interview is the prep work they do for beforehand.
What should I wear to give off the right vibe? Don’t slouch, stand tall, shake hands firmly. Smile… but not too much…
With these and so many other thoughts running through their minds, it’s easy to understand why the interview process can be so stressful for applicants. But, it’s the interviewees who prepare their answers and practice communicating their prior experience that make the best candidates.
Knowing all of this, it’s common for employers to skimp on the prep work and opt to “wing it” when it comes to interviewing job candidates. But, much like with well-prepared applicants, it’s the employers who recognize that they are also being interviewed by their candidates who attract the best employees to work for them.
How an Employer Can Fail an Interview
Have you ever gone out to a restaurant and overheard employees speaking poorly about a previous customer? Or perhaps you’ve had that moment where you spy a thick layer of dust on the restaurant’s decor just as you start to dive into your entrée. Yuck! If you’re like me, chances are that you’ll second guess visiting that location again the next time you’re deciding where to eat.
The same goes for your job candidates. If an applicant arrives at your office for an interview and overhears your employees complaining about a patient, gossiping about other employees, or otherwise exhibiting less-than-professional behavior, that’s strike one against your business.
Let’s say this candidate is still brave enough to actually wait for their appointment (lucky you!). The interview process is ready to move forward, but the Office Manager is running behind because of an unexpected mishap related to a new patient’s intake paperwork. Twenty minutes after the scheduled time to talk, she comes out to the waiting area looking disheveled and hurriedly escorts your candidate to a private meeting space. That’s strike two.
The interview begins with cordial introductions and then there is a lull. The doctor and office manager can’t decide who should start the conversation and, once they do, it becomes clear that none of the interview materials are prepared. The interviewers have obviously not pre-planned their questions prior to this interview and the result is something of an awkward linguistic dance between three people that takes another 45 minutes of the applicant’s time. Without knowing it, the interviewers have now made that candidate late to her next appointment Strike three.
An Interview Done Right
Let’s assume that the candidate in our hypothetical nightmare interview was a difference maker in her position — the type of employee who shows up on time, every time, with a positive attitude and the experience and know-how to get things done without having her hand held. Do you think she’ll be excited for a call about interview number two?
Now, imagine the flip side of the scenario presented above: the candidate arrives to a cheerful front desk person and is promptly greeted and lead to the space where her interview will be held (perhaps even a minute or two early).
The Office Manager arrives, introduces herself, and offers the candidate something to drink. The doctor comes in a minute behind her and introduces herself, as well. The interviewers pull a few sheets of paper from a manila folder, review for a few seconds, and then jump in to their questions. It’s clear that they’ve done this before — the two of them work seamlessly as a team.
The meeting is jovial, even casual at times. Plus, it wraps up right on schedule. The office manager escorts the candidate to the exit and two of the other employees greet her and wish her luck on the way out. Do you think the applicant will be anxious for her follow up interview after such an experience? We sure do.
How You Can Prepare for Applicant Interviews
If you’re trying to attract super-star job candidates, you need to leave a positive impact after each interview. After all, the best applicants are likely to have their pick from multiple job offers, and a slightly higher wage or better benefits package may not be enough to counteract a terrible interview experience.
Leave enough space in your schedule. If you’re holding applicant interviews, make sure they don’t overlap with other work or patient appointments. During your scheduled interview, you should make sure you’re completely free of distractions so that you can focus your attention of the applicant.
Make sure your team knows when interviews are scheduled so that they can be ready to make a great first impression. Otherwise, you may not get the chance to make a second.
Have a game plan before going into the interview. If you intend to interview as a team, make sure you’ve discussed the questions you want to ask and the cadence of the interview itself ahead of time. Be sure you know exactly what you’re looking to communicate to the candidate, as well as what you need to hear from them. During the interview, you’ll want to ask the right questions and leave space for your candidates to answer. Your job is to probe the candidate and get them to share and talk. This means less of your voice and more of theirs. Behavioral interview questions make this process easy.
Print your materials out in advance. Have a copy of your candidate’s resume and application ready and in-hand when they arrive. You might even like to have your questions printed out with extra space to take notes.
Time it out. Keep your interview to thirty minutes, if possible, or to the amount of time you asked your applicant to leave open. Ending early will probably not hurt your chances of convincing the candidate to come back for another round, but keeping your candidate too long could make you appear unprepared and unprofessional.
Don’t Create an Interview Nightmare
Be the employer that has done their research on a candidate and is ready for them when they arrive and you’ll be well-positioned to bring difference makers on when you’re ready to hire your next employee. If you need help, reach out to the experts in CEDR’s Solution Center for guidance — the quality of your team is built on the quality of your recruitment strategies, after all. And, finally, remember: your applicants are not the only ones being interviewed — YOU and your company are being interviewed, as well.
This post authored by CEDR Solution Center Advisor Michelle Richard.