Employer Interviewing Part 4: Post-Interview Alignment

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Team Debriefs 

A proper interview allows you to gather feedback and different perspectives from other leaders, no matter how good you think you may be at judging your character. Immediately after wrapping up the candidate interview, ensure the interviewers stick around for at least 30 minutes afterward to debrief. Doing this quickly is important because your thoughts are still fresh, and it keeps the candidate process moving along.  

Brian Halligan, the co-founder and executive chairman of HubSpot, made an interesting observation about the renowned Tom Brady. Despite being one of the most successful quarterbacks in NFL history, with seven Super Bowl visits and five championships under his belt, Brady was only picked in the sixth round of the draft. “I think people overestimate their ability to pick,” he said. 

The main objective of the debrief is to reach a conclusion about the candidate, though this is only the tip of the iceberg. A top-level debrief should aim for more than just deciding. You should base your debriefing approach on the following five crucial steps: 

  1. Collect this information ASAP so you, the hiring manager, can make an informed choice. 
  2. Set standards for the interview team around what qualifies a candidate as good, what matters, and what would be nice to have. 
  3. Review your candidate scorecards and notes for each criterion and compare candidate evaluations. Double-check for consistency and ensure that the scores accurately reflect the candidate’s performance. This can help you make data-driven decisions and identify the strongest candidates based on their overall scores. 
  4. Secure the hiring staff’s approval (not necessarily consensus) on the candidate selection. Even if there is disagreement, they can still agree to it, provided you explain your reasoning openly and honestly. 
  5. Create a system of feedback on the efficacy of the interview process. This will help the team understand if the quality of the conversation is effective or if adjustments need to be made. 

Running An Interview Debrief Session 

Pre-debriefing planning. Hiring managers ought to know the aspects of the candidate’s profile that call for further discussion before the debriefing meeting. Therefore, before the meeting, you must: 

  • Read the interviewers’ written evaluations. 
  • Pick out the main ideas and be prepared to summarize them with the group. 
  • Be aware of the areas you wish to explore and prepare the appropriate inquiries. 

Initial feedback. The hiring manager takes a turn around the room, allowing each interviewer to give a concise summary (lasting one or two minutes) of their observations and a judgment of the candidate’s overall performance, strengths, and weaknesses.  

The Hiring Manager overview. You’ll subsequently summarize the main points and outline your current views on the merits and drawbacks of the candidate in terms of how well they fit the organization’s requirements. Be completely transparent about your thought process. 

Take a closer look. When conducting deeper analyses, it is essential to pinpoint areas of potential red flags that require a closer look and areas where more details are needed to make an informed decision. Your aim is not to make your interviewers see things from a different perspective. You only need to get as much information as possible from your teammates.  

Continuing Communication With The Candidate 

At each step in the process, it’s important to keep applicants informed and update them on their progress. The higher up the position is, the more conversations and communication you will need to have with candidates. 

Instances to reach out to a candidate include:  

  • Sending a thank-you note after an interview.  
  • Telling unsuccessful candidates that they were not selected for the role.  
  • Informing successful applicants that they got the job.   
  • Writing a message to those who haven’t received any response yet.  
  • Sending a follow-up email to passive candidates.  

According to a Forbes article by Jack Kelly, “ghosting,” or failing to respond to messages from candidates, is becoming increasingly common. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, 77% of job seekers report that they have experienced ghosting from a prospective employer, with 10% having been ghosted even after being given a verbal job offer

Failing to respond can leave your employer brand in the gutter. Future applicants will be less likely to apply if they know employers don’t take communication seriously and are not open about sharing negative experiences. As such, employers must ensure that their candidates receive timely responses and feel valued during the interview process. 

Delivering The “Bad News” To The Candidates 

Now is the opportunity to offer the candidates not chosen for the role valuable, constructive criticism. Doing so provides candidates with practical insights and establishes a positive relationship for the future.  

In 2021, when companies provided feedback to potential employees after refusal, they witnessed a 24% increase in the likelihood of those applicants’ recommending others and a 36% rise in their willingness to maintian or strengthen ties with that organization.

Giving unsuccessful candidates detailed feedback helps them understand exactly why they were not hired. Their interview could have gone better than it did, or they needed the right skills and experience; this feedback allows them to know what to work on next time to ensure they fill any knowledge or expertise gaps you highlighted.  

Providing personalized feedback demonstrates that you are a thoughtful employer that cares about helping them grow and develop. Showing candidates constructive ways to improve, even if it isn’t the right fit this time, reflects your commitment to their success.  

Additionally, the candidate selection process doesn’t always end with the chosen candidate being hired. This can happen for various reasons, such as a change in financial requirements or the selected individual withdrawing from consideration. Consequently, you should keep your options open by maintaining relationships with the other applicants throughout the recruitment process.  

These individuals may be prime candidates for future positions that might arise in your business. Don’t burn bridges with second or third-choice candidates. Instead, thank them for their time and consideration, stay friendly, and communicate openly with them regarding their status in the recruitment process.

Reference Checks 

Verifying references is usually the last step in the recruitment process before you offer a job to an applicant. References can help you gain insights into a job candidate’s strengths and weaknesses while helping to provide support for them after they are hired.  

Amy Gutmann, president of the University of Pennsylvania, often stresses focusing on something other than the job interview when making a decision. “References and what somebody has done are more important than what somebody tells you in an interview. Well done is better than well said, and there’s no substitute for good referencing.” 

To maximize the information obtained through reference checks, here are some helpful tips:  

To start, allow an hour for the reference call. Though it likely won’t take this long, there’s no need to rush. At the beginning of the conversation, ask how the reference knows the candidate so that you can check that you’re speaking to a valid source.  

Begin the conversation by complimenting the candidate. Showing disbelief or suspicion might make the reference reluctant to say much out of loyalty. Letting them know beforehand that it’ll be a beneficial chat for both parties is a good way to prepare them. Nobody is perfect, but it’s beneficial to gather as much knowledge as possible so that you can provide an appropriate integration into the onboarding process.  

Finally, go beyond the references the candidate provides. Ask for an honest opinion of the candidate’s capabilities—their strengths and weaknesses, how well they can handle pressure, how they interact with others, or anything else that matters to your company. (LinkedIn is a great way to get references for a potential candidate.) 

Making The Final Decision 

Following the hard work by both your interview team and the candidate, extending an offer for employment should be a moment of joy and accomplishment—second only to having the candidate accept that offer and have a successful career at your business! We suggest conveying this news in person whenever possible or over the phone if need be.  

Here are a few best practices:  

  • Don’t bury the lead! Make it absolutely clear that you are extending an offer to the candidate. Avoid any buildup or small talk; don’t beat around the bush. Keep it short and to the point: “We are delighted to offer you the [blank] position at our company!”  
  • Elevate the enthusiasm. Channel your eagerness into specific reasons why they would be an invaluable addition to the team. Shed light on the roadblocks the crew has encountered and how their unique perspective can help overcome them. Make sure to mention all of the exciting projects they’ll get to dive into once they come aboard. 
  • Ask about the competition. Have they received any other offers? Are they expecting to be presented with more in the future? They may need additional details to decide whether they are willing to consider the offer before making their choice.  
  • Give the candidate an outlet to share their concerns. Ensure that there is someone they can talk to who won’t be in a lead role. This could involve topics regarding cultural differences, reporting structures, health benefits, or even salary discussions.  
  • Be open and honest about compensation. Explain that you will provide a formal offer letter, including details of the candidate’s pay and benefits. If you are confident your offer will meet their expectations, then reviewing the compensation package during the interview is an option.  
  • Check in. After making the offer, you should remain visible and not let too much time pass without contact. We recommend reaching out every two to three days so they avoid signing an offer from another organization. Be aware of any news of them accepting a different job. 

If you are interested in learning how Hueman can help your organization attract and retain talent, contact us today!