The Importance of a Second Interview
How a two-stage interview process could help you from making the wrong appointments.
If you’re responsible for bringing new people into your business – whether it’s with the help of a recruitment agency, an in-house HR professional or by hiring direct – the one thing you can guarantee is that the final interview will be down to you.
If you’ve ever had to pick up the pieces of a bad hiring decision you’ll understand how important this is, but if it’s not something you do often, it can be quite daunting.
As an interviewer your goals are simple, to sell the benefits of working at your company and identify the perfect person to join your team.
Attracting quality applicants is a challenge in itself, but once you’ve achieved this, it’s important to get the interview process right.
The first thing to remember is that an interview is nothing more than an initial expression of interest from both parties, giving you a chance to get to know one another better.
It’s a two-way conversation where neither side should presume to be on a higher footing but, as the employer, the onus is on you to plan the encounter; and by that, I don’t mean read their CV!
Think carefully about how you want the interview to run. What do you need to know? Who does the applicant need to meet? What messages do you want to get across? Will there be any practical or written tests? How will you assess the candidate against your company values?
And don’t forget to share your plan with all parties. You want to see people at their best, not catch them off guard, so the more they know the better things will be.
Of course, what works for one doesn’t always work for another, so whether you decide to run tests prior to the interview, opt for a telephone call or have an informal chat to narrow down the field, that’s fine.
There is however strong benefit in having at least two-stages to the interview process. With such an important decision at stake, 60 minutes really isn’t a lot of time to make up your mind about someone’s ambition, personality and experience, let alone fall in love with them.
With only one meeting you limit the number of people that can see the applicant without it becoming overwhelming. A second stage allows you to do this in a far less daunting way, giving your team the chance to make a series of good impressions and you the luxury of other opinions before you decide.
If you’re going to split the interviews, consider focusing the first one on personality, chemistry and their technical capability to do the job.
Explain the role in detail and establish what their aspirations and expectations are. Dig deep into what they know about your business and why they want to leave their current employer. Try probing to see if they expect a counter offer when they resign. This will all give you an indication of how serious they are about moving.
Stage two is when you bring other key staff into the process, which can add value and create a different dynamic to the conversation.
It may be a little more relaxed for you and applicant, which will give you the chance to cement your relationship, but always remember it is the first time your colleagues have met them.
Focus on following up on any queries you still have and, providing it goes well, use this as an opportunity to pitch the benefits of joining your firm. You could even show them around your office and introduce them to future work colleagues if appropriate.
Don’t forget that people have good and bad days in interviews and you need to make sure the relationship can grow over the long-term. The more information you can get, the better your hiring decisions will be.