Death by interview: Reviving the experience

Posted by Karen Baergen and Bhawna Bist on January 24, 2020.

With the ongoing struggle to hire top talent, organizations are looking for ways to improve the candidate journey, which is focusing a magnifying glass on the interview experience itself. If you look at any organization’s interview reviews on Glassdoor, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll see negative comments on the interview experience. The interview process can be painful not only for the candidate but also for the interviewer, and that can affect an organization’s ability to hire—hence suffering a “death by interview.”

A growing economy and the intense demand for new and emerging technical skills coupled with an unemployment rate of 3.7 percent (according to the Department of Labor)1has made hiring qualified talent one of the biggest challenges facing organizations today. Not to throw salt in the wound, but organizations have been reporting that their voluntary turnover rate has also significantly increased these past few years, particularly in first-year employees. According to BersinTM, Deloitte Consulting LLP, nearly 33 percent of new hires look for a new job within their first 6 months on the job. Many organizations are feeling like they are on a never-ending hamster wheel just to fill open positions.

With the ongoing war for talent, it’s imperative to provide candidates with a Simply IrresistibleTM experience. Mature talent acquisition (TA) organizations are feverishly looking for ways to do so, but to accomplish this, they first need to understand what’s going wrong.

  • Lack of a defined and efficient process

The typical end-to-end interview process is not as easy as you would think, and many organizations have not even developed a forward-thinking process. Most would believe that the interview process starts with scheduling the interview, but in order to look at the entire process, you need to start with the interviewer. How do you determine who will be interviewers? Are they equipped to conduct the interview?

Next it’s time to schedule the interview, which is itself a complex process. One leading Financial Services organization has reported that it conducts over 50,000 interviews per year, and as it peeled back the layers, it counted over 40 steps just to schedule one interview.

The next step is to be sure the interviewer and candidate have what they need to be successful, such as interview tips, guides, and feedback forms.

Now we are finally at the interview itself—how do organizations conduct the interview, collect the feedback, make a hiring decision, and execute an offer efficiently? Some organizations are moving to interview days so there is one day of interviews, so the candidate only has to invest one half day. Another discussion happening is about timing throughout and how many interviews are appropriate. Too many interviews can delay the process, so it’s important to determine the redundancies and evaluate whether the number of interviews per candidate can be reduced.

  • Unclear roles and handoffs

Another discussion is about who does what and when. To provide a smooth experience and ensure no one drops the ball, it’s important to have clear delineation of roles and responsibilities within the TA team. Some organizations have coordinators whose only responsibility is to schedule and facilitate interview days to ensure the interviews actually happen on time and that the interviewer(s) and candidate have everything they need, such as interview guides and feedback forms (one global fintech organization houses interview tips and directions in its scheduling tool, as well as interview guides and feedback forms for interviewers). Other challenges with scheduling are that it is typically a junior position or the responsibility sits with a recruiter or coordinator who already has a full plate, resulting in a higher rate of manual errors, double booking, and interviewer no-shows.

If an organization has quality issues with interview scheduling and is looking to improve the experience and reduce the heavy administrative burden, outsourcing this task can be the most time-and-cost-efficient way see improvement. Others are turning to our next point, technology.

  • Lack of the right technology infrastructure

It’s a shame to see organizations invest heavily in building a TA technology infrastructure to source, attract, and hire talent only lose candidates due to a poor interview experience. We are seeing high-performing TA organizations re-evaluating and transforming their interview process by looking at their entire technology landscape. They are thinking more broadly about progressive technology to improve the interview experience, and some organizations are replacing traditional interviews with gamification in an effort to provide a more engaging and consistent assessment and interview experience.

Additionally, to our previous scheduling point, more and more organizations are implementing interview scheduling technology. It’s important to integrate a scheduling solution into the rest of the recruitment and hiring process to ensure an efficient solution for all parts of talent acquisition. The key integration points to consider include the ATS, the HRIS, calendaring, room reservations, interview signage, reimbursement systems, and even third-party travel agencies.

  • Lack of Interviewer enablement and recognition

Untrained and unprepared interviewers are a symptom of the true problem: Interviewers often don’t have the proper tools and training. Also, they are not being held accountable for the quality of an interview, often cancelling or constantly rescheduling. Another issue is that they are not receiving recognition for their contributions, which can result in them not taking the interviewer role seriously. Some organizations are beginning to look at ways to recognize their interviewers, whether in performance reviews or with a small token of appreciation. They are finding that public recognition changes the perception from thinking that interviewing is a thankless task to wanting to do it even better.

One mistake organizations make is having interview guides with too much complexity and questions that are just plain out of date. Bersin’sTM 2018 High-Impact Talent Acquisition research2 revealed that high impact TA organizations consider candidate work ethic, values, and potential as much as skills and past experiences. This requires organizations to revise their interview methodologies and supporting guides in order to determine a candidate’s potential beyond the resume.

Another reason the interview experience suffers is because interviewers lack the proper training or the training is outdated. A poor interviewer experience will most likely also impact a candidate’s experience. Some organizations are looking to ensure interviewers are prepared by developing certification programs. For example, one leading global technology organization has developed certification criteria for each interview type, with some interview types requiring a one-hour computer-based course and other, more technical interviews requiring in-person classroom training.

Providing a Simply IrresistibleTM interview experience can attract top candidates who likely have different employment options and won’t settle for an organization that wastes their time or treats them poorly throughout the interview process. Candidate interview experiences can impact not only an organization’s reputation with that candidate but also potentially for every future candidate because of social sharing platforms. And even if candidates accept an offer, they may be on alert for questionable treatment post-hire and may jump ship faster than if they received a great experience as a candidate. One leading global technology company gathered data on the interview experience and the correlation to increased first-year attrition rates and determined that 40 percent of departing employees did not have a stellar candidate and/or onboarding experience. The company invested in improving the overall experience, with a large focus on the interview experience.

Instead of an organization’s reputation being tainted by negative social media reviews, it’s time to transform the candidate experience and improve reviews to help keep the pipeline filled with great applicants. For talent acquisition organizations to triumph over the “death by interview” epidemic, they must first understand their obstacles and desired results and develop a comprehensive approach to transform.

Karen Baergen is a senior consultant in the Workforce Transformation practice of Deloitte Consulting LLP, specializing in HR & Talent Acquisition Transformation. She has over 15 years in both client consulting roles as well as managing various HR initiatives in industry. Karen has led people and cross-industry projects specializing in implementation, optimization and strategy.

Bhawna Bist is a senior manager in the Workforce Transformation practice of Deloitte Consulting LLP, specializing in HR & Talent Acquisition Transformation. She has more than 16 years of cross-industry and consulting experience advising global organizations and leads the development of the firm’s point of view around AI in TA.

1Department of Labor – Latest Unemployment numbers
2Bersin’sTM 2018 High-Impact Talent Acquisition

One thought on “Death by interview: Reviving the experience

  1. Great article. It raises the question of why so many organisations and business leaders continue to place faith in unstructured interviews led by untraining managers, when empirical evidence points to a low predictive indicator of success in a role, not least the risk of damaging the candidate experience.

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