A good first impression is everything in the interview process.
There are enormous amounts of research and data that say the first five minutes of an interview are what matter most. After these critical minutes, interviewers typically only look for information to confirm their first impressions of the candidate, which often leads to uneven results at best.
In addition, individual interviews are a relatively poor predictor to use when it comes to choosing the right candidate to perform the job and fit seamlessly into the company culture. It is therefore imperative to involve others in the process.
I asked Chris Hollins, president of TalentGrade, who offers services to companies to facilitate and streamline a new hiring process. Here are his key recommendations:
1. Work sample or video
The best predictor ( two times better than an interview) measuring how well a person will perform a specific job is a simple test or challenge that would require job candidates to submit a sample piece of work or video presentation relevant to the position to assess their performance.
For example, if the company is hiring a sales position, have him or her submit a short one-minute video pitching your company as if the applicant is selling to a potential customer. In 60 seconds or less, you will be able to see the applicant’s personality and presentation skills, as well as motivation level.
While these exercises are not perfect, since ultimate success depends on many other factors, they are good indicators of candidates that have the basic skills or qualities necessary to succeed.
2. Include others in the hiring process
Including coworkers (especially those who will be working closely with the new hire) in the hiring process will dramatically help the decision-making process. Other stakeholders will provide new insights or opinions on the potential candidates that could have otherwise been missed with only one or two people involved. Involving others also helps leverage company knowledge and culture into the hiring process.
3. Ask simple questions, look for brilliant answers
Providing a roadmap of simple questions to consistently ask each candidate during an interview can help segregate the superb potential hires from the candidates that are just OK.
Asking “magic bullet” questions like, “What animal would you be?” are, at best, irrelevant. Such questions do not shed light on whether a candidate can perform the job. At worst, they are complete red herrings. Companies should stick to questions that illuminate the candidate’s skills and knowledge, and capability to do the job.
4. Administer a cognitive ability test
Sometimes, the particular position does not lend itself well to creating a work sample test. In this case, the second most effective way to form a first impression of a candidate is by administering a test with right and wrong answers. A test like this measures a candidate’s capacity to learn as well as raw intelligence. Candidates who score high on a test like this will be more likely to quickly adapt to the demands of a new job.
While using a methodical, structured approach to hiring a new employee can involve a larger time investment upfront, it can help save a company a lot of time, money and headaches in the future by providing the tools to choose the right candidate the first time.