I Want to Know You Better Faster

We’ve decided to add a step to the interview process: the Candidate Questionnaire.  The goal is to collect a few simple data points that will help us immediately narrow down our search.  Sometimes we forget to ask simple things like “Which city are you applying for?”  Or, even more important, “Which position are you applying for?”  The earlier we know these things, the faster we can get candidates into the right interview channel.  And we’re also going to toss in a few other questions about availability, technical proficiency, and maybe a few others.

But we’re still in the development stages of this idea, and we’re looking for suggestions.  As with the other components of our recruiting process, this questionnaire should help us get to know the candidates better faster.  And that’s what recruiters and hiring managers are most interested in.  Getting to know the candidates as quickly as possible.

For one thing, getting to know the candidate is paramount.  Nobody hires someone they don’t feel familiar with.  But it’s also worth noting that the hiring process is long and occasionally tedious.  The faster a manager gets to know someone, the faster they’ll make a decision.  I also believe that candidates earlier in the process are more likely to get hired because they’re not being mentally compared with as many other people.

Building familiarity in the interview process isn’t always easy, but simple things like small talk can go a long way.  You never know when a shared experience or affinity will surface.  Always check out LinkedIn and Google the other person before an interview.  Any non-work-related connection can go a long way.

But even work-related stories and answers can build comfort and familiarity.  Answer questions in a forthright manner while sharing both the challenging and rewarding aspects of work.  If I keep hearing canned answers designed to highlight strengths for sixty minutes, I won’t feel like I truly know who I’m interviewing.  Ergo: no hire until and unless I learn more.

I can’t take a risk when hiring someone.  “She seems like a good fit but I’m just not sure” is the same as a no-hire to me.  It should be for everyone.  Which is why I encourage all our candidates to be open and honest when sharing their experience, their goals, or their apprehensions.  It’s okay to be nervous.  It’s okay to make mistakes.  It’s okay to be embarrassed.  Sometimes it’s even endearing.  But I will definitely not hire someone I wonder about.

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