Often when interviewing for a job you will be faced with a panel of interviewers. A panel will almost always consist of a human resource professional and the manager of the hiring department. How much influence each will have on the final decision will not always be obvious. The importance of skills versus cultural fit versus experience will likely be valued differently among the questioning panel. So following the interviewing phase a unanimous decision may prove difficult to reach.
A survey completed in 2013 by Harris Interactive of more than 2,000 employers asked when considering two candidates with the same credentials, which factors would influence their decision to hire one over the other. Those surveyed were from an array of industries and included hiring managers and human resource professionals. Here’s what they said:
- The candidate with the better sense of humour – 27%
- The candidate who is involved in his or her community – 26%
- The candidate who is better dressed – 22%
- The candidate who the interviewer has more in common with – 21%
- The candidate who is more physically fit – 13%
- A candidate who can discuss current affairs and pop culture trends – 8%
- A candidate who is more connected in social media – 7%
- A candidate who knows about sports – 4%
Before interviewing a candidate you have already decided that they can do the job so it is not surprising to see within the above results how much emphasis is placed upon personality, presentation, social knowledge and personal interests. The candidate of choice will become a part of the daily lives of the team so fitting the team’s dynamics is essential for the continued, positive functioning of the group. What is it though that has us placing varying rates of worth upon a qualification, a management style or a personality type? Is it our understanding, or lack thereof, of the role on offer?
Eighty per cent of recruiters believe they have a good understanding of the positions they are recruiting for. Sixty-one per cent of hiring managers disagree. These statistics highlight a glaring disconnect between recruiters and hiring managers. So how do you close the gap? It is critical that the two have a strong relationship. Effective communication, trust and transparency will result in a higher success rate of finding the right candidate. What do I mean? It is not simply a matter of handing a recruiter the position description for the role, particularly when it may have been created five years previous. Hiring managers need to be clear about the qualities they are seeking for the position both now and in the future, as well as the importance of each quality to the role and to the business. Don’t rely on emails, engage in a verbal exchange where questions can be asked and details about the essentials of the role fine-tuned. The recruiter who has their finger on the pulse and knows what talent is available can discuss the realities of finding the desired candidate. For example, if you require an employee who is knowledgeable in using a particular program and has a minimum five years’ direct industry experience, a recruiter may identify that only a small number of candidates fit the desired criteria and all are currently employed. Poaching from the competition or expanding the criteria to attract a broader pool of candidates may be required. Alternatively if the talent pool is too large, a recruiter can recommend how to refine the job description to shrink the number of applicants.
Working together to formulate the right interview questions will additionally assist in finding the ideal candidate. I know of a job seeker who was sent to an interview by a professional recruiter but quickly realised during the interview that the questions and the job description were a poor match. Upon leaving the interview she contacted the recruiter and withdrew her application. She was not the only candidate to do so. The recruiter did not have an understanding of the role and therefore sent the wrong candidates to be interviewed. It unnecessary lengthened the recruitment process.
If through discussions it is identified that specific, measurable skills are necessary to perform the job, your recruiter can undertake candidate testing. Taking those that are perfect on paper and identifying those that also possess the right level of practical skills will find the productive candidate and eliminate the potentially disruptive candidate.
Knowing and understanding the requirements of the job role to be filled and agreeing to these will ultimately shorten the hiring process and resolve the dilemma a prolonged vacancy brings. Thus it is essential that you invest in the relationship between those who form the hiring panel before screening, before interviewing. A relationship without trust, respect and openness may otherwise result in conflicting agendas and a stalemate between panel members. Perhaps even the wrong candidate being hired.