Enhancing the Candidate Onsite Interview Process

The onsite candidate interview is one of the most important steps in finding the right senior technology leader. Delaying hiring, or hiring the wrong person, can cause many problems for a company including a lack of direction, lowered morale, underperforming financials and missed sales opportunities.

Our data shows many companies are not investing the time necessary to ensure that a thorough, effective and rigorous candidate interviewing process is followed. We believe each hire should be viewed as a formal project and therefore have a project leader to drive the processes necessary to ensure a positive outcome. One critical element of the process is a coordinated candidate interviewing experience.

Here are few tips to help your company improve their onsite candidate interviews.

1.     Clearly define your interviewers’ roles and what questions they will ask

Assign each member of the interview committee a clear and meaningful role. Interviewers should focus on a mission-critical attribute that leverages their area of expertise. In addition, having interviewers ask the same question to each candidate reduces uncertainty and increases objectivity. If we can identify and guide interviewers at the beginning of the process then we can add value by driving successful habits along the way.

2.     Ask strategic questions with no repeats or “dead ends”

Each interviewer should ask materially different questions that help move the committee towards a decision on the candidate. When questions are repeated or do not lead to follow-ups, it sends a message of incompetence to your candidate and makes them doubt the company’s preparation.  

3.     Ensure each Interviewer is spending time selling the position and the company

During the interview process, there is plenty of time for candidate evaluation, however, each interviewer must spend time selling the candidate on the company vision and the high impact of the position within the corporate vision.  Regardless of whether the candidate turns out to be someone the interviewer believes should be hired, it should be the goal of the interviewer to have each candidate walk away from the meeting thinking positive thoughts about the company and culture.

Unfortunately, we typically see the opposite behavior practiced. Often there is only one member of the interview team tasked with selling. Regardless of how strong their brand is, if a company cannot consistently and clearly sell the value of the position during the interview, they will see poor results.  

4.     Constantly calibrate

We have seen clients list a set of ideal / desired requirements on paper that << insert your most successful CEO here >> would not be qualified and certainly not interested at this point in their career.  It’s important to balance optimism as well as pragmatism as it relates to the criteria for each hire.

We suggest investing time each week to create a feedback loop to discuss the interview process, review everyone’s roles and questions being asked, and calibrate on everyone’s desires around skill set requirements versus the candidates that have shown enough interest to come onsite for interviews.

Companies should constantly evaluate the level of candidates that can be attracted versus the desired requirements for the role. It is important to not only provide candidates with rapid interview feedback but also get their input in terms of the process and interest level in the role. As the process goes along, the candidate profile will become more clear and expectations may need to be adjusted.