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4 Tips for Conducting Better Online Job Interviews

In 2020, 82 percent of business leaders surveyed by Gartner pledged to continue remote work arrangements permanently. This translates to millions of people working from their homes and the need to improve how we hire people virtually. So how do we conduct better online job interviews?

Virtual hiring has risen as an enormous concern for organizations going partially and fully remote. Most human resources professionals and recruiters have extensive training in interviewing. However, their experience tends to be limited to an interview process that includes at least one in-person component. And evaluating applicants without the advantage of face-to-face interactions brings unique challenges.

Odds are, your business will grapple with this issue sooner or later, particularly with today’s penchant for remote working. To ensure better outcomes, try adopting the following tactics for your online job interviews.

Leverage Position-specific Tech Platforms

Every job requires specific skill sets. Case in point: An entry-level customer service representative needs different talents than a marketing manager. In your role, you must design interviewing journeys that allow you to clearly evaluate candidates based on the position available. Fortunately, plenty of SaaS providers have created portals to help you meet your placement goals.

For instance, your organization routinely might need more IT professionals. How will you confidently evaluate each candidate? The answer lies in the right tech stack additions. Daniel Borowski, a founder of Coderbyte, says to look at code assessment platforms that contain libraries of pre-programmed coding challenges, as well as virtual interviewing rooms with video and whiteboards. Take the time to investigate cloud-based software for your most common online recruitment needs. You’ll feel more comfortable with your selections.

Expand Your Interviewing Steps

If your company has been around for a while, you probably have a standard in-person interviewing process. For example, maybe you post job descriptions on Indeed, use HR tools to identify top candidates, arrange interviews, and then decide. Yet what works in more traditional recruitment may not provide you with enough information about virtual applicants.

So dust off that old process and map out possible new steps.

Look for specific gaps in your current process:

  • Could you add more online group interviews?
  • Perhaps change the flow of your interviewing process?
  • Conduct phone and Zoom interviews before making offers?

Adding extra steps can fill in the blanks and make you feel better about your choices. Just resist the temptation to lengthen the process timeframe too much – or you could lose talented job seekers to competition ready to move quicker through the hiring process.

Develop and Deploy Pre-hiring Tests

Around eight out of 10 companies already use automated pre-assessment testing software in the earliest stages of their virtual interviewing, according to research from SHRM. Predictive assessments streamline top-of-funnel recruitment strategies, allowing you to concentrate your efforts on high-quality candidates. Yet you should feel free to initiate pre-assessment testing in later-stage segments of the online job interviews, too.

The right testing method allows you to gauge everything from an applicant’s commitment to core ability. Just make sure you test consistently for each role to avoid hiring bias. As an example, you might ask your top sales team candidates to generate online proposals. You would give them parameters, need-to-know information, and a due date. Once you receive all the proposals, you can evaluate them based on fit. As a bonus, you’ll know which applicants can hit the ground running and which would need extensive training.

Revisit Your Employer Brand

Even to a candidate who may never set foot in your headquarters, workplace culture matters.

Every organization maintains cultural norms and expectations—even 100 percent remote businesses. Consequently, spend time refining and defining your cultural standards. If you have trouble putting them into words, ask current remote, in-person, and hybrid employees for feedback. The information you gather can help inform your job descriptions and interviews.

Once you’ve refined your employer brand, ask yourself how you can tell if someone will mesh with that brand and their work team. More specifically, determine how you’ll know if they’re a fit if you only see them on a screen?

Experience shows that asking thoughtful questions about their working preferences is a great place to start when gauging fit within a brand, culture, and team. Next, ask what they want from their job experience. Then, sit back, listen, and take notes.

Remember to factor in the importance of cultural adaptability, too. An analysis evaluated by Harvard Business Review asserts that adaptability plays a huge part in an employee’s overall success. Therefore, even if a top candidate has limited immediate “fit factors,” the candidate may adapt to your culture rapidly.

Even after a year of experimentation, conducting online job interviews may not feel yet intuitive. Give yourself more time to adjust. Simultaneously, put strategies in place to make your online job interviewing process better and your choices easier. You’ll end up putting more of the right people into your open positions.

 

Why Job Interviews Are Not Foolproof

Here’s the reality of hiring today: work itself is undergoing rapid changes, shifting to a new kind of workscape that’s digital, global, diverse, leans on automation and functions across multiple platforms — including social media and mobile. The job market is highly competitive: the unemployment rate was at 4.7 percent in February of 2017. Business cycles are shorter, with faster rates of new demands and needs to match. In this state of constant disruption and an ongoing race for talent, HR is being challenged to rethink how to recruit and hire more effectively.

The Bottleneck

Adoption of new technologies tends to be somewhat sticky: we tend to cling to the status quo if we’re not sure how to change it. But focus, for a moment, on the process of hiring as many of us know it. Short attention spans, a barrage of digital distractions, and employer information scattered across multiple platforms mean candidates who don’t fully read or understand the job description but tend to send out their resumes anyway. It’s easier than ever to do it, so why not?

On the receiving end are overloaded recruiters and hiring teams, flooded with resumes and applicants. Only half of these candidates are actually qualified, according to a number of recent polls of recruiters. But the process of winnowing them down is cumbersome. Somehow this giant pool of talent has to wind up flowing through a very narrow, one-to-one bottleneck: the interview. It’s like taking a raging river and sending it through a drinking straw.

There are other problems with the interview process, including questions of fairness. Objectively speaking, two humans get together and have a chat, and one tries to offer enough information to answer the other’s essential question: Should I hire you? But we know how fallible interviews can be, from limited bandwidth to first impressions formed in seconds — based on an array of “thin slices” of data that may smack of bias, conscious or not. The issue is significant enough that states are working to legislate bias out of interviews. Massachusetts just enacted a “Don’t ask” law that prohibits interviewers from asking for salary history — a question which has been found to put women candidates at a disadvantage and perpetuate pay gap.

Empowering a Better Interview

But we are human, after all. Nothing wrong with that. What if there’s a way to turn our humanity into a success, and not a potential liability? There is — and it comes in the form of data-driven tools that winnow out and spotlight objectively and accurately. Well designed pre-employment tests are more than ways to screen for specific skills and qualifications. They function as objective and effective predictors of success based on a range of additional characteristics, including personality and cognitive aptitude; the former can measure traits that may demonstrate fit, while the latter is increasingly important as we become far more specialized and as the technology we use evolves faster. Even more importantly, research shows that cognitive aptitude is one of the best predictors of actual on-the-job performance, making it a more objective tool for predicting long-term success.

But from my perspective, they also do something else. They’re an opportunity for both sides to learn about each other. The candidate can learn from the testing experience what kinds of skills, aptitudes, and behaviors are required for the job. The recruiter can learn from the test results what kind of potential the candidate has in terms of those measurements. Armed with this information, they can proceed to the next step if it’s appropriate.

No more shots in the dark. The candidate, as well as the recruiter, are both on the same page. Now, imagine the interview based on the results. The interview can now fulfill a more meaningful function: a face-to-face (whether virtual or not) meeting that conveys a candidate’s interest and potential to the employer, and communicates the employer’s culture and values to the candidate. Both are equally important, particularly in terms of a good hire and increased retention. No one’s time is wasted. A recent study by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) backs this up: using pre-employment tests was shown to tangibly improve hiring results.

Still, Don’t Ditch the Interview

Does this all mean that we should simply do away with interviews completely? I’d say no. The advantage of pre-employment tests in hiring is that they provide relevant, objective data about a job candidate. For candidates, they provide a clearly objective and specific set of criteria that enhances the candidate’s understanding of the position, can (if tailored that way) convey employer brand, and provides a positive experience. But it may be that instead of unstructured interviews, we lean more on structured interviews — with their standardized set of questions. It puts additional work on the hiring manager’s desk, at least up front. But it also takes more uncertainty and the risk of bias off the table. If that can’t happen, the pre-employment tests have taken care of much of the heavy lifting.

We’re about to move into yet another phase in HR and recruiting, soon: Deloitte’s 2017 Human Capital Trends report stressed that we are heading into an era of cognitive computing, an augmented combining AI and people, and organizations made of teams may work together intensely but be located in different hemispheres. But of the key trends in this report, it’s important to note that 81% of the executives, managers, and recruiters polled said that no matter what the field, talent acquisition is imperative. Which makes a hiring process that uses the best tools even more like a change we all need to make right now.

This post is sponsored by Criteria Corp.

Photo Credit: neil.trickett Flickr via Compfight cc

4 Next-Level Questions To Ask In A Job Interview

Every part of the hiring process counts, but a face-to-face meeting is the best opportunity to dazzle the boss and land a coveted offer.

To maximize those precious moments, here are the four types of interview questions everyone should ask an employer.

Each question demonstrates critical thinking and declares: I’m in it to win it.

Note: to answer interview questions in a memorable way, tell stories. Here’s how.

Scenario: you interview to do marketing/communications for a grocery chain.

1. The Background Check

People love to talk about themselves. Period. If you come prepared with a question about the boss’s career (thanks to LinkedIn or a website bio), he will perk up, brag on himself and find you impressive — even though you only asked a question and listened.

Sample interview question

“I noticed you started your career in marketing for Ringling Brothers circus. What was that experience like?”

2. The Office Insight

Every company has a website. So read it before the interview. Check out past and current projects, staff bios and gain a general sense of the office culture. Then, drop a question to prove you did your homework.

Sample interview question

“I read several of your recent press releases and saw you’re making a push to carry more gluten-free products. How big is the demand right now for gluten-free foods?”

3. The “Wow” Factor

The bio question, the company question…both solid. Now, turn your focus to the industry, in general. Read news about the grocery biz and put the company in context with the latest headlines. That’s next-level stuff , which prompts a “wow” from the boss.

Sample interview question

“I see [company A] bought [company B]. The deal seems like a major shake-up in the grocery industry. What does the [company A] takeover say to you?”

4. The Inception

With the “wow” question, you took the interview from an uncomfortable boss-applicant arrangement to a conversation among peers. Now, plant a seed in the manager’s brain with a cool marketing idea. Make him feel like he needs you on the team right now.

Sample interview question

“I like the way your store offers online deals based on my previous purchases. For me, a twenty-something, it’s a smart strategy. Wouldn’t it be cool to do a targeted campaign to reach people where they spend time online?”

Boss says, “You know, that’s a really good idea.”

For your next job interview, come with a set of questions no one else will have.

Be smarter. Be one notch better.

Be different.

 

Image: bigstock

What To Look For When Hiring Entry to Mid-Level Employees

It can be difficult to hire for entry-level and mid-level positions because candidates may not have a long list of former employers or jobs that can truly represent their ability to perform the tasks a new employer is looking for. In some cases a leap of faith is needed when hiring at these levels. Even so, this leap doesn’t have to be done totally blind. Employers can look for a pattern of ability and success in other areas and apply this knowledge to the current job opening.

So, what should companies be looking for when hiring new entry- to mid-level employees?

Are They A Good Culture Fit?

Culture is the environment created for (and by) employees in a workplace. A new employee should complement the culture of the organization, as employees who don’t fit into the work environment properly tend to leave to find an environment that is more in line with their beliefs. The average cost of a bad hire can equal 30% of that employee’s first-year potential earnings, according to the U.S. Department of Labor and Statistics. Potential hires should have personalities that will mesh well with internal stakeholders (their co-workers) as well as external ones (clients or vendors). Potential employees who don’t display the values and characteristics within the current culture may not be the right choice for the organization. Employers can assess a job candidate for culture fit during the interview process by learning how they have handled different work situations previously.

Do They Have Previous Achievements?

Entry-level candidates may not have a long list of professional accomplishments, so it’s important to think outside of the box. Look at what these candidates have achieved in school, internships, extracurricular activities, or hobbies. Companies can identify candidates that have taken projects or assignments in these arenas from start to finish successfully and with positive results. About 60% of college graduates can’t find work in their chosen field, according to an article from Forbes. With so many potential candidates having unrelated experience it is important to understand how previous achievements line up with the new responsibilities.

How Do They Handle Behavioral Questions?

Determine the must-have abilities, qualities, personality traits, and skills that are necessary for the position and create a series of questions designed to detect whether or not the candidate has them. During the interview process ask candidates these questions and ask them to provide examples of a time in the past when they used these skills. Don’t be afraid to ask follow-up questions as they will help you dig deeper into a candidate’s past experiences and abilities. Go beneath the surface of the candidate’s answers to learn how he or she thinks and will likely react in work situations.

Can They Do The Work?

Even the most detailed interview process can’t replace actually seeing the applicant do the work. Companies can ask entry- and mid-level job candidates to complete a work-related project or exercise that mimics some of the tasks they’ll be performing on the job. These can be especially helpful when video interviews have been the main mode of contact with candidates. The results of these exercises can give hiring organizations insight into how candidates will work on the job and can help to differentiate between two candidates to determine who would be stronger.

The level that a candidate is at will not matter as much as if they have the skills the company is looking for and their overall ability to do the job. Some of the best qualities for a candidate at any level to possess are professionalism and an eagerness to learn. While some job-related tasks can be taught, others (particularly personality traits) cannot. Companies would be wise to hire candidates who will be good for the future needs of the company, not just what is needed today.

About the Author: Megan Ritter is a graduate student at USC and has worked for various financial institutions and marketing firms. Follow her @megmarieritter.

photo credit: Day 174 via photopin (license)

The Psychology & Influence of Interviews: #TChat Preview

Originally posted by Matt Charneyone of #TChat’s moderators, on MonsterThinking Blog

The more the candidate sourcing and selection process changes, with the vast evolutions in the tools and technologies employers use to find and engage talent, the more the interview process, the most integral and involved component of the hiring process, stays the same.

This is too bad, really, considering the crucial role interviews play in talent selection. No hiring manager’s ever made a decision based on a cleverly sourced candidate. They care about whether or not this potential new coworker is going to get along, help the team, and be the kind of person they want to spend the majority of their waking life with.

By the time you get to an interview, generally, you’ve ostensibly got the skills on paper to play the part. But obviously, a resume doesn’t tell the entire story, and if it did, this whole recruiting thing would be a whole lot easier. After all, the best candidate isn’t always the most qualified. An interview’s not about asking questions; it’s about finding fit.

And while recruitment has progressed from the transactional back offices of “Personnel” to the strategic front lines of talent acquisition, while social media proliferates and job seekers become increasingly savvy, interviewing looks a lot like it always has: questions, answers, and a lot of reading between the lines.

This week’s #TChat, “The Psychology and Influence of Interviews,” will explore the implications of technology, the economy and the constantly changing tides of talent supply and demand on interviewing best practices on both sides of the table.

The Psychology and Influence of Interviews: #TChat Questions and Recommended Reading (04.19.11)

Join us on Twitter for #TChat tonight at 8:00 ET/5:00 PT as employers, recruiters, job seekers and thought leaders weigh in on what it takes to stand out from the competition and transform an interview into an offer in today’s job market.

Here are the questions we’ll be covering, along with some recommended reading to help inform, and inspire, your participation in the #TChat conversation.  But don’t worry.  We’re not judging you on your answers.  We’ll leave that to the professionals.

Q1: What are some of the ways in which interviews have changed the most for job seekers?  For employers?

Read: Job Interview: Tips for the Virtual Interview by Charles Purdy

Q2: What strategies can candidates use to influence the outcome of an interview before or after the interview itself?

Read: Closing the Deal: Interviews as Infiuential Sales Presentations by Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter

Q3: What’s more important to assess in an interview: skills, grit or culture fit? Why? What about Emotional Intelligence?

Read: The Job Interview Culture Checklist: 7 Steps to Evaluate In Your Next Job Interview by Hank Stringer

Q4: How do interviewing best practices change for an interview with HR/recruiting vs. hiring manager?

Read: Advice for Tackling The Different Types of Interviews – by Monster.com Career Experts

Q5: What can candidates do in an interview to better assess the company/opportunity as well?

Read: Own The Interview: 10 Questions To Ask by Larry Buhl

Q6: What’s the most valuable piece of interview advice you’ve ever been given?

Read: The Best Piece of Interview Advice You’ll Ever Read by Lance Haun

Q7: How can technology help companies and candidates improve their interview and selection process?

Read: Benefits of Video Interviews and How To Make Your Video Better by Rusty Reuff

Visit www.talentculture.com for more great information on #TChat and resources on culture fatigue and how to overcome it!

Our Monster social media team supports the effort behind #TChat and its mission of sharing “ideas to help your business and your career accelerate – the right people, the right ideas, at the right time.”

We’ll be joining the conversation live every Tuesday night as co-hosts with Kevin Grossman and Meghan M. Biro from 8-9 PM E.T. via @monster_works and @MonsterWW. Hope to see you tonight at 8 PM ET for #TChat!