There seems to be an imbalanced amount of attention often put on candidates during an interview process. Coaching, resume and cover letter preparation, wearing the appropriate business attire, and researching the client organization are pre-interview requirements. All too often, however, we forget about the importance and intentional work on behalf of the employer when creating a positive and meaningful experience for candidates during live visits.
A friend relayed an experience she that she categorized as “awful” – she was a finalist for a job she was very interested in with an organization whose mission she cared deeply about. Unfortunately, the employer did everything wrong. Here is what transpired:
- She was not told where to park her car and circled around several times in search of a parking garage.
- Her interviews began at 10 am and went back-to-back until 5 pm – without any breaks.
- She was not told who she would be meeting with and was not handed a meeting agenda, regardless of asking on multiple occasions.
- When she asked for a glass of water or time to have a small snack around 2:30 pm, she was told, “There is no time.”
- When she asked to use the ladies’ room, she was again told, “There is no time.”
In retrospect, my friend found the entire experience laughable, but in reality, every one of those actions gave her the impression that the organization didn’t really care about her. It gave her insights into the culture of the organization – and while that may or may not be accurate – it left a negative impression on her.
Onsite interviews, especially in a Covid-era are a critical component to the candidate experience, and it is a pivotal opportunity for an organization to showcase its culture. It is the moment when, quite literally, you bring your organization to life for a candidate.
When interviewing candidates, you are creating an overall experience for them. From their pre-interview prep to onsite hospitality, it is the employer’s responsibility to ensure that the interview experience is a reflection of their organization’s culture and values.
As you prepare to welcome your next candidate for their interview, here are a few things to consider:
- Treat each candidate as you would a VIP. If they are visiting onsite for the interview, they are likely a final candidate and may even be a final candidate in other job searches. Ensure there is one point-person assigned to your candidate who will provide a level of “concierge” service throughout the day.
- Plan the visit as you would an event – from invitation, to visit, to post-meeting follow-up. Consider each touchpoint with intention, care, and purpose.
- Often onsite interviews are several hours long. Be sure to include a break as well as an opportunity to have a meal. Ask the candidate if they are comfortable meeting over a meal, and always ask about allergies or dietary restrictions. It can be embarrassing for a candidate to have to refuse a platter of deli sandwiches if they are a vegetarian.
- If the visit includes walking across campus or in-between offices, inform the candidate of that. Ask the candidate if they are able to walk a mile if required. Give the candidate the opportunity to share any physical restrictions. I used to take for granted walking upstairs until a visitor shared that they were about to have knee surgery and asked if we could take the elevator. From that point forward, I have always asked, “stairs or elevator?”
An interview is NOT a physical, intellectual, or emotional test – it is an opportunity to build a relationship and that relationship develops both ways. The onsite interview is an experience that will tell the candidate who you are as an organization. Make sure that the experience is authentic to your company culture and values.
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