Let's face it--the hiring process is rough. Hiring managers fret about how to accurately assess and identify the best talent for their firms; prospective employees worry about how to assess whether an opportunity is right for them. Despite the sometimes-grueling nature of interviewing, it's a critical period for every company. As we've discussed in a previous employer brand blog, word-of-mouth is one of the fastest ways a company's culture and employer reputation spreads. If a candidate has a positive interview experience, they're more likely to spread the word that yours is a great company to work for (thereby increasing the applicant pool from which you may hire), so we wanted to share some advice on how to make sure that you're leaving candidates with a positive impression from day one. We spoke with Michaela Kron, PR Manager at Duolingo, to get an idea of what made her own interview experience with her new company a positive one.
Be Clear. Transparency from the beginning is key in any interview process--make sure that your candidate knows exactly what they're being asked to do in the role, and that they understand what drives the company (and those who work there). When Kron first interviewed for her position, she spoke directly with the VP of Growth, who was exceptionally well versed on both the company and her position specifically. The interview was informative, and her interviewer was warm, personable, and immediately embodied the company's culture. There was a sense of camaraderie and a belief in the company mission from the start, which was sustained throughout the entire interview process.
Set your candidates up for success. Provide your candidates with the necessary resources to make their best impression. If there's a presentation component (which we at CFW always encourage!), share relevant links so that candidates have access to the best information. In Kron's case, she was given one hour to write a press release for a new Duolingo product. While she was on her own with regards to the research and writing, they set her up with a partner--a marketing associate at Duolingo--who was available during the full hour to support her and answer any questions. While the assignment was intimidating at first, having the support from Duolingo helped put her at ease (allowing her to focus on the task at hand and show her true colors).
Be efficient. Don't let your interview process drag on unnecessarily, and make sure that if you're meeting your candidates in-person, you're using their time wisely. If there are key individuals that candidates must meet before any hiring decisions are made, coordinate with them in advance to ensure that they're available for the interview. In Kron's case, she flew into Duolingo's headquarters in Pittsburgh for one day, and had 5 interviews that afternoon! While a schedule like that could have been intimidating, everyone was so warm and welcoming that she found it to be an exceptionally positive experience. During the day, they even set her up with a "lunch ambassador" to accompany her to the company cafeteria and introduce her to other members of the company, which allowed Kron to interact with many current employees and get a true feeling for the organization as a whole.
CFW ProTip: If you absolutely must have a longer interview process, make sure that you are in regular communication with your candidates throughout. A lapse of communication--even just one week--can indicate a lack of interest or forward movement. While it's important that some of that communication come from within the company, it can also be helpful to have a well-informed recruiter to check in regularly and keep up the momentum.
Be flexible. If you are ready to make a hire, and are asking candidates to make a dramatic change (like move across the country!), be understanding that they're real people with real lives, and something like relocating can be a logistical headache. In Kron's case, Duolingo allowed her to work remotely for 3 months while she finished out her lease, though they did ask her spend her first week at HQ for training and onboarding. During that time, the CEO sent out a welcome email, which was promptly followed by a barrage of welcome emails from her colleagues, and cross-department introductions were made so that she had an immediate network within the organization. To round out the warm welcome, they had a party for her at a local bar, complete with dinner and drinks. This tremendously supportive introduction helped ease her into the company, and made the eventual move a much smoother transition.
As you can see, the interview process is much more than cross-referencing someone's resume with the job description. It's a chance for the company to bond with their soon-to-be employee, and make brand ambassadors out of every other interested candidate (regardless of whether they got the job or not).
For more information on how to make your interview process work for you, contact Stephanie Kronenberg at firstname.lastname@example.org.