Anyone who has hired and managed a team has been there. You've searched through hundreds of resumes, taken tens of preliminary phone calls. You finally narrow it down to a handful that you want to bring on-site for an in-person interview.

You know you need to hire the best. But you also know that good talent wants to work at a place they fall in love with. As a small company on a limited budget, you know that your candidates won't be sipping Voss in a glass bottle for the next three hours or walking out with a backpack full of swag. Here are a few ways to make your candidates feel at home during the on-site interview:

1. Tell your candidates what to expect during the interview.

At least the day before an interview, send your candidate a list with key information:

  • the names of people they're interviewing with
  • the roles of the individuals they're interviewing with
  • the time of the interview(s)
  • the address of the interview
  • anything they should bring for the interview

Don't forget to include any information about how long the interview is expected to take (so they can add money to the parking meter before or so they can arrange a pickup) and what will be expected of them during the interview. After the interview, tell them what the next steps of the process will be.

Sometimes companies have the philosophy of "letting candidates figure it out," but in my experience that leaves a bad taste in people's mouths. Teams are meant to help each other succeed, not to take on the responsibility of adding an individual to their group only to watch closely if they sink or swim. The candidates you are evaluating likely want to join a team.

2. Have a sign outside or mark the door to the building clearly.

When I started my second company, our founding team chose a former retail space in San Francisco as our office. We loved the neighborhood because of the amazing handful of restaurants and boutiques that lined the streets, and we loved the inside of the office for its open floor plan and floor-to-ceiling windows.

Above the office was a massive hanging sign that read something along the lines of "Glass Co." that we decided to keep up because a) it was expensive to take down and b) we thought it added a piece of character.

However, as we started the on-site interview process, I noticed that candidates were consistently coming in ~5 minutes late and drinking the tap water we offered them abnormally fast. At first, I chalked it up to being summer and people being not particularly punctual in a world where its so easy to say "I'm running late" over a quick email. But a few days into the process, I was standing by the floor-to-ceiling windows when I saw one of our candidates pacing back and forth outside our office looking at their phone and back at our tinted doors. He candidly said, "Your office is the hardest to find!" as he walked in the door.

That day, I ordered a big sign to put on our door and started explaining in our email that we were the "almost unmarked" company between the cheese shop and hotel.

3. Have a plan if you're running late.

We're all guilty of meetings running over and critical items popping on our plates right before an interview. If you're running a little bit late, have a waiting area for the candidate to sit and have someone else on your team on call to make the candidate feel comfortable (offer them water, etc.). If you have a hunch you're going to be 30 minutes late to an hour-long interview, have a game plan with your other co-workers for who can take the interview in your place or conduct the first round with the candidate. Your candidate has a life outside of interviewing for your company--as they should.

Published on: Aug 4, 2017