Human Resources Blog - Spark Hire

How Disheartened Staffing Pros Finally Achieve Interview Experience Consistency

It’s your favorite time of year. The time when you sit down at your desk and review all the feedback you’ve received from the candidates you interviewed. Hearing all the positive things they have to say about your interview process gives you that bump in confidence you need as a staffing professional.

Excited to see how you’re doing, you open the data file on your computer. The average rating of your interview experience is only a three out of five. Having expected better, you delve into the individual responses.

The first candidate rated their experience highly. They even included words like “helpful,” “welcoming,” and “fair” in the open responses, which are all qualities you strive for.

But the next few were less impressed with their interview experience. They described it as everything from “confusing” to “boring.”

And that’s when the problem becomes clear: your process lacks consistency. Your overall average isn’t terrible, but that’s because the responses are all over the board.

Unfortunately, this is common with staffing firms’ interview experiences. Being involved with it day in and day out, it becomes difficult to clearly see discrepancies that can make a big difference to candidates. Not to mention, inconsistencies can also affect the quality of talent you’re providing to your clients.

Let’s take a look at how an interview process that doesn’t run like clockwork can hurt you:

Understanding the dangers of inconsistency

Bad reputation

We all have bad days, but as a staffing professional, being off your game hurts your reputation. A 2016 CareerArc survey found that nearly 60 percent of job seekers have had a bad interview experience. Of those, 72 percent have shared that negative impression with someone else.

When other job seekers hear or see that candidate’s opinion, it can dissuade them from working with your company. Even if it was a one-time mistake, there’s an inevitable impact on your talent pool. And if you can’t supply your clients with great talent, they won’t be your clients for long.

Bad hires

Avoiding bad hires for your client is your main professional objective. That’s why you spend so much time and energy assessing and comparing candidates so you can offer them the best options. However, the interview process is far from foolproof.

In fact, a 2015 Brandon Hall Group survey found that 69 percent of companies blame a broken interview process for letting bad hires get through. And the more inconsistencies there are, the more likely the wrong candidate will be presented to your clients.

Asking different questions, for instance, won’t reveal the same insights about each candidate. Or a less qualified candidate might appear better if you’re reading their resume in the morning, when your mind is fresh. On the other hand, a great candidate might seem worse if you’re reviewing their qualifications right before lunch, when you’re distracted by hunger.

Longer hiring times

Having a quicker recruiting process allows you to place more candidates and enables your clients’ organizations to get back to up to speed sooner. Plus, the sooner a job offer is made, the higher the chances the candidate will still be available.

However, differences at any step of the hiring process can lead to delays. For example, if half of the candidates’s video interviews are reviewed by you and the other half by a team member, it can take longer to agree on who to present to the client.

Now that you see what’s at stake when your recruiting process has too much variation, let’s look at ways to ensure every candidate has the same interview experience.

How to build consistency

Use a scheduling tool

Humans are imperfect beings. This is why you should automate simple tasks whenever possible. You could take the time to manually schedule each and every interview, but one missed email or one forgotten time zone change can ruin an interview experience.

Instead, use a scheduling tool so you can concentrate your efforts on more complex aspects of your job. With the right tool, all you have to do is send out an invitation email with a link and candidates can easily pick which time in your schedule works for them.

Here are some things to look for when choosing an interview scheduling tool:

  1. It integrates with multiple calendars. This is incredibly important if you and other members of your team use different calendars for their personal and professional schedules. A great tool will allow you to sync all of your digital calendars and present openings to candidates in a clear way.
  2. It makes communication easy. While you don’t want the emails you send candidates to sound formulaic, you do want them to be consistent. You should be able to customize communications so they reflect the position, but still provide everyone with the same essential information, like what to expect in the interview.
  3. It’s flexible. It’s never ideal, but sometimes you or a candidate need to reschedule an interview. When that happens, there should be a simple way for everyone to be alerted to the change.
  4. It allows you to customize interview lengths. Some scheduling tools force you to choose between 30- and 60-minute interviews. If you know most of your interviews take 45 minutes, this can create a problem. Make sure your schedule aligns with your process so you can stay consistent in your interview lengths.

Help candidates prepare

You are an interview expert. You know what your clients are looking for and how to make candidates shine. Having to combat pressure and nerves, job seekers often struggle with how they present themselves.

By providing each one of your candidates with the right resources, you make sure they are prepared and put their best foot forward. That way, the best talent can consistently stand out.

Here is some information you should be giving all your candidates so they aren’t caught off guard by something unexpected:

For video interviews

  • An explanation of how these differ from traditional interviews
  • Step-by-steps for the entire process
  • FAQs for candidates
  • Tips on how respond to the camera in a natural way
  • General presentation dos and don’ts (e.g. what to wear)

You can find more helpful resources for video interviews here.

For in-person interviews

  • Directions to the interview location (and where to park)
  • The contact information for who they will be meeting with
  • Information on the structure of the interview (e.g. panel or one-on-one)
  • General interview tips and reminders

The more thorough information you provide candidates, the better — and more congruent with their abilities — their interview performance will be.

Record one-way interviews in the same location

One-way video interviews can be a great way to introduce talent to your clients. However, you want to make sure the focus is on the candidates and their responses. While one-way video interviews can be recorded anywhere, if your candidates come to your office to do theirs, it creates consistency. All the talent you present to clients will have the same background. This can also help you minimize distractions and quickly solve any technical issues that pop up.

Having you present as they record also gives you a unique opportunity to coach them through the process. This ensures they’re providing the best possible responses, and makes both you and the candidate look good in the client’s eyes.

Have a standard set of questions

You might think customizing your questions for every candidate will create a more unique interview experience. However, it really just adds more variable to the decision process. Two candidates might give fantastic answers, but if they’re two different questions, it’s impossible to accurately compare.

It’s a better use of your time to ask the same questions. Still, ensure they give the candidates a chance to provide insightful responses. Here are some things to remember when crafting a standard set of interview questions:

  • Have the candidates rank their aptitude with the top five most important skills for the position. This will show you how they perceive the weaknesses and strengths that will affect their performance.
  • Always include culture-based questions. Abstract questions like “If you were a color, what color would you be?” give candidates the freedom to explain their personality without feeling like there’s a right or wrong answer.
  • Have good judgement about follow-up questions. Sometimes a candidate says something that merits immediate clarification. For instance, if they’re describing their former responsibilities at a job and they mention a skill you didn’t know they had, it’s appropriate to dive deeper into that if it’s important for the role. However, if they casually mention your favorite TV show during their response, don’t derail the interview by talking about how much you love the program, too.

Use a clear criteria

A lot of people are involved in your client’s hiring process. While you might be confident that each candidate can do the job, your client’s hiring team might not be. If everyone is using a different guideline to assess candidates, it can become difficult for them to see who the best hire is.

Create a checklist that objectively rates each candidate so you can show our clients why you chose to present each person to them. Prioritize what traits and experiences are most important for the role. Decide what types of personalities mesh best with the company culture. When it’s time to make a decision, have everyone compare their score cards to see who the best hire is.

Having a consistent interview experience makes your job as a staffer easier. It allows you to better find great talent and to provide candidates with a great hiring process they’re glad to have been a part of.

Want more tips on creating a more effective interview experience? Download our eBook!

Josh Tolan

Josh Tolan is the Founder and CEO of Spark Hire, a video interviewing platform used by 6,000+ customers in over 100 countries.