Three Steps to a New and More Effective Interview

By Megan Fleming

Off-the-wall interview questions, lengthy printed job descriptions and rounds of repetitive interviews are a very 1989 — or even 2003 — way of recruiting. Gerry Crispin, Principal of CareerXroads, says it’s high time for a change. “For many years we’ve had a pretty bad approach in general to recruiting and we continue to have a bad approach.” He says that advances in technology, particularly social media, are only adding to the problem and make it easier for companies to make the same mistakes — and make them faster.

Gerry CrispinCrispin is uniquely positioned to comment on companies’ hiring processes since he hears about them constantly at CareerXroads. His organization creates a platform for staffing leaders to have intimate conversations about the best and worst practices in hiring.

Crispin suggests that updated interview strategies will yield better results for employers and job seekers alike. These three steps are central to any new interview process:

1. Add simulations

Is the candidate right for the job? Is the job right for the candidate? Companies are using faster and more realistic testing tools that allow job seekers to pit themselves against the actual challenges of the job. “Today you can create a simulation that has a very low cost-per-use,” explains Crispin. “A job seeker can intimately embed themselves in a simulation of how a job operates and what it’s all about. This helps them make a better decision about whether they’re a fit for the job.”

Many companies with high volume needs are investing in actual simulations. Other firms with fewer positions rely on cost-effective, job-shadowing videos to provide a realistic preview of what it’s like to work at a company. “Video is not that interactive,” comments Crispin. “But it’s still a simulation of what a job is like and is a significant step-up over a paragraph-by-paragraph description of what you need to be part of a company.”

Simulations even have a place in technical fields, especially for positions that require project management skills. A “hack day” is an effective type of simulation for IT and engineering professionals. During hack days companies give professionals challenges, such as use their hacking skills to produce code or generate a technical resolution within a certain timeframe. The process would be a good self-test tool for prospects as well.

2. Try a better line of questioning

What are your weaknesses? Where do you want to be in five years? What would you do if…? These questions sound familiar because they’re the standard interview questions that have been asked for decades. In many cases, employers are still asking them. That, says Crispin, needs to stop. “Many companies out there still take a lot of pride in creating really bizarre questions to surprise the individual, hoping it will show some insight and allow them to make a better decision. I consider that to be a bankrupt concept.”

In the past, candidates would be subjected to a volley of standardized questions — some related to the job and some not. “Any question unrelated to the job which focuses on personality or biographic fit and isn’t part of a formal predictive validation program is, in my opinion, an example of the kind of dinosaur recruiting that has been apparent for many years,” declares Crispin. He says the only legitimate interview questions are those that are occupationally focused, behavior-based, or relate to the experience the candidate will have in the company’s culture.

Crispin also advocates for giving interview questions to candidates in advance. By springing questions on candidates he says, “All you’re assessing is the individual’s ability to — at best — respond spontaneously under conditions of stress.” Crispin says giving candidates a chance to contemplate the questions ahead of time yields better results because candidates can provide more honest answers for recruiters to judge them by.

3. Prepare for an honest dialogue

Tough questions from candidates about salary levels, the company’s work environment and why previous employees left the company are no longer taboo during interviews. That’s a direct result of the power of social media, which allows employees, ex-employees and previous candidates to share information and opinions about a job and a company with everyone in their network and beyond.

“The transparency of a corporation is increasing at a very fast pace, but it’s not under the control of the employer,” explains Crispin. That transparency makes honest, authentic dialogues between employers and candidates critical.

arrows“A conversation is a two-way process,” says Crispin. “If you, as an employer, are going to prepare for a one-way conversation in which you ask hard questions, how prepared are you to answer hard questions from candidates truthfully?”

Address this increased transparency upfront by preparing hiring managers, recruiters and other interviewers with honest, open answers to the tough questions that will be asked.

It’s a new decade and a rapidly changing hiring landscape. Using these three steps for a new interview process will help employers and recruiters keep up with the pace of change and make more strategic hiring decisions. You’ll be surprised at how simple ways to streamline will become evident.

Using an easy reply mechanism, having more focus and saving time — these three simple, low-cost steps will create a better experience for your candidates and better results for your company.