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May 25, 2021

The Ultimate Interview Process: From Set-Up to Follow Up

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All HR pros know getting the interview process right is everything — but for most, it’s easier said than done.

“We’ve fallen into a pattern that if a candidate can parrot the bullets on a job description, then we hire them. We say we’re looking for ‘talent’, but our interviewing processes don’t truly assess that… It needs to change,” says HR pro Steve Brown, Chief People Officer at LaRosa’s.

And with 83% of candidates saying a negative interview experience can change their mind about a role or company they once liked, it’s worth making the effort.

From set-up to follow-up, a truly great interview process should be tuned to perfection, with candidates leaving the interview LOVING your company — even if they didn’t get the job. 😉

So, how can you take each part of the interview process and make it really shine? Let’s take a step-by-step look at how to get it right, including how to use Breezy’s interviewing tools to make every stage as candidate-friendly as possible.

Ready to take your interviews to the next level? Let’s get started!

What does the ultimate interview process look like?

Interviews are like people — they’ve all got the same fundamental features, but no two are entirely alike.

But just because every interview is unique, doesn’t mean you can fly by the seat of your pants. To truly rock the interview process (and make it a fair process for all candidates) you need to invest some time in creating a standard interview procedure your hiring managers can stick to every time.

Here’s why structured interview processes are the only way to go:

  • Skip bad hires: Organizations that lack a standardized interviewing process are 5X more likely to make a bad hire than those that have one.
  • Avoid legal hot water: Using interview questions that haven’t been checked for legality can pose litigation risks.
  • Keep your interview process fair: Structured interviews create a fair playing field for candidates who might otherwise not even get a shot due to unconscious bias in the hiring team.

HR hall of famer and CIO at Workology, Jessica Miller-Merrell, is a big believer in structured interviews.

“When we make decisions based on data, we can reduce things like interview bias and create an even playing field for candidates,” says Jessica. 

Here’s how:

  • Be consistent in how you structure interviews for a particular position and which data points you try to elicit across candidates
  • The goal is to identify a set of core traits on which to assess candidates, consistently score each of these traits, and update the set as you learn more about what leads to success for your organization.
  • Make sure every interviewer scores each candidate based on these same data points. Your data set comes from the most successful employees at your company, what makes them successful, and how to ascertain whether or not candidates possess the same,” says Jessica.

💡 Bonus tip: Leave room in your plan for ice breakers and candidate questions — as long as you build an element of flexibility into your structured interviews, you won’t lose out on any opportunities to build rapport with your candidates.

How to create a high-quality interview process step-by-step

Now you know how to create the ultimate interview in theory, let’s look at how you do it in practice, from set-up to follow-up.

Step 1: Planning the interview process

Before inviting candidates to an interview, you need to spend some quality time planning the cadence and structure. So, grab a coffee, sit back, and let’s get started. ☕

Here’s how to get your hiring team set up for a perfectly streamlined interview process:

  • Conduct a job role analysis: First, you need to know what skills are required for the role (aka the skills you’re looking for in a candidate) and take some time to define exactly what that means. For example, if you’re looking for technical skills, which technical skills do you actually mean? And at what level? Will candidates be expected to have those skills already, or will you offer training?
  • Know your interview questions: Once you’ve drilled down on your requirements, it’s time to create some interview questions to match. Check out our 400+ free interview questions to help get the wheels turning.
  • Create an interview guide: Interview guides are your hiring ace-in-the-sleeve. They’re the central focus for the whole team and can include candidate skill lists, interview questions, and extra documents. As a Breezy user, you can create customizable interview guides and share them with hiring managers at the click of a button.
  • Pre-determine your scoring system: To make your interview process as fair as possible, scorecards are the way to go. With a pre-determined scoring system, your hiring managers will have all they need for a fair hiring process — they’ll always be looking for the same things and rating according to the same system.

👉🏼 Pro Tip: Base a Scorecard on an Interview Guide to align feedback items directly with interview questions.

Breezy user showing off the scorecard feature on a candidate

Step 2: Scheduling the interview

You know what you’re looking for, you’ve briefed your hiring managers with an interview guide, and you’re all set to connect with your applicants. Awesome. 👏 

The next step? Get those interviews on the books.

Whether you’re interviewing in-person or remotely, these days it’s best practice to offer candidates a bit of extra flexibility.

Enter the self-schedule.

Self-scheduling is all about showing candidates you get it — unemployment is high, lockdowns are real and life is busy — show them you care enough to give them some control over when the interview will happen. 

Here’s how self-scheduling works for Breezy users:

  • Define your availability: When will team members be available for interviews? Be sure to set the exact time ranges and days of the week. You can even set a specific time range for when to schedule the interview, such as ‘two weeks out’, as well as a minimum notice range to make sure everyone has ample time to prep.
  • Create a Scheduling Link: Once you know when your hiring team is available, you can create a system-wide scheduling link available to all members of the hiring team, or personal scheduling links that you can save and re-use on your own.
  • Send the scheduling link automatically: Using Breezy’s Stage Actions and templates, you can make sure top candidates who are moved into the interview stage are immediately sent a scheduling link so they can choose the time that works best for them!

Sounds simple? That’s because it is. 😉

A Breezy User setting up a scheduling link for a candidate

Step 3: Leading the interview

There’s no denying interviews have changed big time in the last couple of years (thanks Covid).

Gone are the days of in-person meetings, these days interviews have gone digital. And with virtual interviews there are a few things you’ll want to focus on:

  • A powerful video interviewing tool: Zoom and Google Meet are great and all, but what you really need is a video interviewing platform that not only lets you see your candidate’s face, but their entire profile — including resume, experience, documents, and Scorecard — to make it easy to access their details during the interview.
  • Take notes in real time: With the candidate’s full profile right there on screen, you and your hiring team can even add notes and share thoughts with each other completely privately (your candidate won’t see this part!) in real time during the interview. No more having to “circle back” to add your notes in later.
  • Keep scheduling simple: As with all other interviews, your video interviews should be a breeze to schedule via a simple scheduling link. Simply hit ‘Yes’ when we ask if you'd like the meeting to be in video format and the rest happens automatically — no need to make any additional tweaks to your calendar invites. 
Breezy Video Interviewing

Step 4: Follow up

You just led an awesome interview — congrats! 🙌🏼

Now it’s time to select the best candidate to boost team productivity, increase revenue, and add a little extra sparkle to your company culture.

Here’s how to ace the candidate selection and follow-up process:

  • Use scorecards to make your decision: When hiring as a team, you need to make sure you’re all singing from the same hymn sheet — or in this case, scorecard. If you had 2+ people on the hiring team, compare each scorecard for similarities (and discuss any major disagreements). If there was just one of you, bring an extra pair of eyes on board for the final interview selection process to avoid any unconscious bias.
  • Send a friendly follow up email: Regardless of whether or not they got the job, it’s important to always thank your candidates for taking the time to interview with you. Breezy’s email templates make this part easy. To send a single email, simply open the candidate’s profile and click ‘Compose Email’. You can even time delay your email to go out at exactly the right moment.
  • Ask for feedback: If you want to improve your candidate experience (and trust us, you do), you need to constantly look for ways to boost your interview process. During follow up, ask candidates to share their feedback on the process via a quick survey link or automated questionnaire — even if they didn’t get the role.

👉🏾 Pro Tip: Still waiting for the rest of your team to send their scorecards in? Use the Request Scorecards link to send a gentle reminder!

The paid pilot project: How to use practical tests to identify top quality candidates

Head of Employee Success at Unito, Sarah Corboliou, is a hiring pro with a penchant for fair hiring.  

For her, the best way to avoid an unfair interview process is to run a paid pilot project

“Our way of combating bias is with the pilot project. It allows candidates to showcase their true skills and talent outside of the stressful interview environment. And the fact that it’s not theoretical work (like most take-home assignments) helps to make people comfortable too,” she says.

Here's how it works:

“For example, if we're going to be hiring someone who's going to be writing content for the blog, we'll ask them to write a blog post on a particular topic and invite them to reach out to anyone in the company and get all the help they need,” she says.

To evaluate your candidates’ submissions, simply set up your Scorecard to include a section for ‘Pilot Project’. When you receive the project, have each member of the hiring team share their feedback on the Scorecard:

By the way, it’s not just employers that can use the pilot project as a getting-to-know-you exercise — candidates can too.

“The pilot project is a huge improvement both for the candidate and for the company. They get to come and work with us, they get to meet the entire team if they want to. No one changes their behavior in the office, so what they see is real and you get to work on stuff that you will be working on in the future,” explains Sarah.

By opening up and laying all your cards on the table, both you and your top candidates can make the right call about whether it’s a true fit.

Boost your employer brand with a stellar interview process 

From set-up to follow-up your interview process needs to show your candidates how awesome it is to work for your company — and not just because you want to find the best of the best candidates. 

Increasingly, candidates are judging brands based on their interview experience. Even if they don’t get the job, they expect to (and deserve to!) walk away feeling like they were understood, respected and given a fair shot. 

With the right tools and a thoughtful system, your interview process will shine. The outcome? Happy candidates spreading a whole lot of love for your company. 💖