The more we hire, the more we see the pattern. It's the same old polished CVs. Same old rehearsed interview answers.
A traditional hiring process can tell you everything you want to know about where a person went to school or how many years experience they have, but it won't answer your biggest question:
"What is this person really like?”
That's why informal interviews rock. 🤘 Meeting a candidate outside the confines of conference rooms and workplace etiquette is the perfect way to break free of the interview mindset and see if you’re truly compatible.
Plus, it's way less stressful for both parties. (And honestly, who needs more stress?)
Shake them out of “interview mode”
Informal interviews and candidate meet and greets help you break the interview mold and see the candidate's true personality.
That means meeting candidates outside the controlled office zone and selling them on the company’s vision in an environment where they feel like themselves — not a robot.
As Global Marketing and Communications Exec Shannon Brayton points out, “There is so much you can learn during an hour of dining with someone - the type of diner someone is can subtly reveal what type of employee they may be.”
Shannon won't make a single hire until she's taken them out to lunch first. And for candidates, there's plenty more in it for them than just a free lunch. Getting the opportunity to discuss day-to-day tasks and relate to future team members on a real level is a priceless way to steal a peek inside the company culture before signing on the dotted line.
Even if the opportunity doesn't pan out, informal interviews are a great chance for candidates to build the kind of magnetic self-confidence that can help them nail future interviews. And for employers, the extra effort could result in a 50% greater chance of retaining new hires.
But not all informal interviews are created equal. Here are 3 simple rules to help you get a much better sense of a potential new team member, without the pressure and awkward convos.
1. Start with a simple warm up
To start your relationship on the right note, make sure you send each candidate a warm, friendly email message reminding them of the date and time for the interview as well as the names and titles of the people they'll meet. After all, no one likes an ambush.
Give the candidate every reason to walk in with head high by giving them the information they need to think more deeply about the role and prepare their questions for you and the team.
2. Invite the right team
You want the best candidate, NOT the best interviewer. And much of that depends on who you invite to your informal meet and greet.
You don't need to spend a day compiling everyone's DISC profiles, but you do need to consider the power dynamics. For example, if all the participants at the lunch are senior to the candidate, the candidate will probably feel pretty anxious and as a result, even a coffee date can feel rehearsed.
Aim for a diverse mix of team members from different backgrounds, departments, and levels of seniority. The goal is to get greater breadth and depth into how they communicate (both verbally and non-verbally). If you can do that, you'll be able to get a much clearer picture of the person you'd really be working with everyday how likely they are to succeed in your unique office ecosystem.
3. Always follow up
We know. No one wants to take the time to send yet another email.
But with automation in the mix, there is ZERO excuse for flaking on a job candidate — especially one who has taken the time to meet up with you and your team.
By following up after the meet and greet, you’re closing the loop on the candidate experience and showing you recognize and appreciate their time — a huge selling point that will come in handy when it's time to make an offer. Following up with both the successful and unsuccessful candidates is a great way to protect your employer brand. Plus, it's just good karma.