Interviewing candidates for roles can become a tedious process, especially if hiring at a rapid pace. If you don't have a human resources team dedicated to this function, it's important to have a process in place to help your team assess candidates with minimal interruption to productivity.
Here's how we break out each step of the hiring process and what we hope to discover about the candidate along the way, with special attention paid to the panel interview.
The Screening Call
There's no getting around screening interviews. With most jobs we post receiving hundreds of applications, the screening call serves as an opportunity to whittle down a list of many potentially qualified candidates to a handful of true contenders. I encourage managers to keep them short and sweet because the screening interview is really about first impressions.
Can he speak easily about his past roles? Can she express why she is interested in the position? Has he done his homework about the company?
The screening interview is the easiest way to tell who took the time to get to know your company and understand the role and who sent out resumes indiscriminately.
The next step in the process is to bring a handful of candidates in for one-on-one interviews with key members of the hiring team. Those who will be managing or working closely with the position will want to have longer conversations with candidates about job responsibilities, expectations, and company culture. They will be providing key information about the role itself, while also asking in-depth questions about the candidate's past experiences.
This is the time for the hiring manager to uncover if the candidate is truly qualified for the job. Can they handle the workload? Do they have the necessary skills? Can they speak to past experience doing key tasks, or was their resume slightly misleading?
The Panel Interview
Assuming a candidate has proven their abilities, the panel interview comes next. By this stage, only 2-3 candidates should remain, and it's time to bring in other employees who will work with this position in a lesser role. For example, when we hire editors, we ask that a designer join the panel. Though their roles share no similarities, they will be asked to collaborate often.
While it's undoubtedly important that the candidate be able to do the job, it's also critical that they fit within the culture of the company. The goal for the panel interview is to assess overall fit. From the candidate's perspective, they have a chance to meet 3-4 additional employees and ask them questions, hopefully leaving with a clearer picture of the office at large and what to expect if they accept the position.
From the company's side, the employees that sit on the panel feel a sense of inclusion in the process that often leads to greater buy-in of the chosen candidate. They are excited to welcome that candidate to the office because they had a hand in bringing them in. And by bringing these employees into the room together, rather than doing back-to-back individual interviews, personal biases are minimized. When the panel has come to a group decision, I feel confident that the candidate they've chosen will fit nicely into the team.
Ultimately, fit plays a huge role in successful hiring, which is why the panel interview is usually a good predictor for turnover. The candidates that the panel raves about tend to turn into employees that not only produce great work but also stick around longer.
In many cases, the CEO can't interview candidates for every position. However, since we're a relatively small team, I have that opportunity and make the final call on whether or not we'll extend a candidate an offer. In this last and final step, my goal is to make sure that the candidate will align well with our core values, to evaluate if there is a long-term place for them in the company or if they'll quickly outgrow the role, and to confirm that my team has selected someone who will be a great fit within the company as a whole.