There are a seemingly endless amount of factors that come into play when conducting a job interview. Was the candidate being truthful when they described themselves on their resume? Was the job description accurate and thorough enough to attract the right batch of candidates? Are those in charge of hiring actually clear on what they’re looking for as they expand their team?
Beyond these basic components, there are a number of other factors that can impact the success of an interview. While they may seem small, they actually have the ability to shape the dynamic of a conversation. Such elements include:
The time of day
While it may seem like a small detail, the time of day during which you choose to conduct interviews can have a significant impact on how the conversation plays out. For example, if you ask a candidate to come in at 4 p.m. on a Friday, you might find that you’re experiencing a decline in your mental sharpness that makes it hard to focus on the interview at hand.
When you get back to the office on Monday and try to recount how the discussion went, the details feel fuzzy, and you realize this professional might not have had a fair shot at the open role they deserved. The person who applied for the job might also not have interviewed to the best of their ability due to mental fatigue.
Additionally, avoid scheduling interviews right before your lunch break. You may think it’s a non-factor, but trying to conduct an interview as your stomach growls makes the process next-to-impossible.
Instead, time out your interviews so you’re only sitting down with candidates when you’re feeling fresh and focused. This means hunger pains shouldn’t be distracting you from the discussion, but ideally, you won’t be in a food coma right after your massive lunch either.
The recruiter’s schedule
Most hiring professionals are well aware of the negatives that come with dragging the hiring process on for too long. Candidates lose interest or get scooped up by other businesses, while you’re still hemming and hawing about who you’re bringing in for a second interview. Not to mention, your current staff members are stretched thin trying to make up for the loss in personnel while you have an open position available.
However, there are downsides to putting too much pressure on rushing the process along as well. If you’re not placing enough space between interviews, it becomes difficult to differentiate between candidates.
Suddenly you’re wondering whether Lisa is the one with the master’s and five years of experience who you saw mid-morning, or whether she was the one who showed up 15 minutes late looking like she had slept in her clothes. Or was that Jody? No, Jody was at the top of your list… you think.
You might also begin to unfairly favor or take away points from candidates for arbitrary reasons based solely on the time of day. For example, you started off the morning overly enthusiastic about the interviews that lay in front of you. So, the first three candidates you saw immediately registered as heavy contenders for the job, even if this shouldn’t necessarily have been the case.
As the day went on, you kept yourself convinced that those three professionals were the most qualified for the job. And maybe you weren’t as open-minded as you could have been when others came in to chat with you about the role, as a result.
As much as those who come in early receive the benefit of the doubt, those who came in toward the tail-end of your day can actually inadvertently get penalized for their delayed time slot. You’re tired, hungry, and ready to go home. As a result, you turn small missteps into a major ordeal, simply because you’re drained and taking out your exhaustion on them.
You might not want to think this way — you may not even realize you’re doing it — but it’s human nature. A person’s nervous laughter or overuse of the word “um” suddenly becomes a deal-breaker, despite their extensive educational background and professional experience. To help prevent bias like this, limit the number of interviews you conduct each day in order to prevent burnout.
While packing as many interviews into one day as your schedule will allow may seem like the most effective way to whip through the hiring process, it’s also a recipe for both physical and mental exhaustion. Instead, try managing your interview load by using a scheduling software to make sure you aren’t overloading yourself. You’ll be much better equipped to pay attention during each conversation when you haven’t spent all afternoon asking the same questions to a handful of other eager candidates.
The interview dynamic
Some professionals rely heavily on panel-style interviews, while others find they make the process more cumbersome. Failing to find the proper interview style based on your business, your personal preferences as an interviewer, and the kind of position you’re looking to fill becomes detrimental to your process.
For example, if you typically do better when you have another set of eyes and ears to listen to a candidate’s responses, recognize this and begin with panel-style interviews or a one-way video interview that can be shared with others.
Identifying the interview style that makes you most comfortable is important in order to improve your own hiring insights and to give you the confidence necessary as you bring candidates in for an interview.
The number of candidates
It’s important not to pack too many interviews into one day. While part of this is about scheduling interviews out accordingly, the other part is about controlling the number of candidates you choose to see from the start.
If you don’t take time to be selective and whittle your initial pile of candidates down, choosing instead to give everyone who applies a first round interview, you’ll find the interview process becomes highly unmanageable from the get-go. By vetting candidates carefully, you’ll have fewer conversations to work through and scheduling interviews becomes easier.
This is where using video interviewing software becomes highly useful. Instead of having to block out an hour of your day for a candidate who might simply be a poor fit, you can quickly gauge a job seeker’s candidacy through pre-recorded one-way video responses.
If it becomes clear they have potential to fill the open role, you can invite them in for an interview. Otherwise, you’ve wasted just a few minutes of your time and can immediately move on to the next applicant.
The ease in which a candidate can reach your office
While video interviewing makes interviewing easier than ever before, when it comes to the in-person interview, it’s important to consider external factors as you’re suggesting a day and time.
For example, will your candidate be fighting rush hour traffic as they try to reach your office? If so, this could make them late, which will cause them to make a negative impression on you. Additionally, their tardiness has the potential to throw your whole schedule off, forcing you to be late for all subsequent interviews.
If you have sporting events or concerts happening near your office and you’re asking a job seeker to come see you close to the start time of these events, will they get trapped in that traffic? Yes, the candidate needs to prove their interest in your open position, but ultimately you want to respect their time by weighing these factors when scheduling interviews.
The day of the week
Even the most passionate professionals show up a little groggy on Monday mornings. And it’s no secret that, by Friday, most people are mentally checked out and ready for the weekend ahead.
Therefore, in order to have the most productive conversations, aim to schedule your interviews for the middle of the week. Both parties have had time to settle in after the weekend, but still remain focused and plugged in.
The time of year
While hiring needs don’t stop just because it’s the holiday season or you have a long weekend coming up, these days off have a significant impact on productivity. Trying to keep the interview process on track right before Thanksgiving or Labor Day weekend, for example, can prove to be a challenge for everyone involved.
People are trying to cram work in before time off, are distracted thinking about holiday plans, or are dealing with being short-staffed. When possible, make it a point to schedule interviews after major holidays to ensure that everyone who’s participating in the process is able to remain well-rested and fully focused.
Your work schedule
Finding the perfect candidate to fill an open role may top your list of priorities, but it’s probably not the only thing you have to attend to during your work day. With that in mind, you’ll want to schedule the interviews you need to conduct at a time that’s conducive to your personal work schedule.
If you have another major project to attend to and you’re concerned about meeting deadline requirements, it’s going to be tough for you to give your full attention to the candidate in front of you. Instead, you’ll be secretly wishing you could be behind your closed office door chipping away at your upcoming deadline. You may complete interviews, but not fully listen to what the candidates are saying, or not ask strong follow-up questions.
Considering the small, yet important factors leading up to an interview, such as the time of day the interview takes place and how many other interviews are happening that day, has a significant impact on the success of the discussion.
Though moving through the hiring process as quickly as possible is ideal, ensuring each interview is done with care and consideration is also essential. Keeping these factors in mind helps to make that possible, guaranteeing each candidate a fair shot at the open position.
What are some other things to keep in mind when scheduling interviews? Share in the comments below!