Principles for the interview process

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November 2, 2017

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The first question to ask yourself is: Do we have a process for interviewing? Many companies in the service industry answer this question with, “well, sort of.” So, what happens when there is no defined process or the defined process is not followed consistently? Increased turnover and bad hires – two things that no one wants and no one can afford.

Speaking of affording, how much is turnover even costing you? Companies need to consider both hard costs like ads, time of managers and paperwork, as well as soft costs like lost productivity, service issues and quality. There is research that indicates the cost of turnover for an hourly position in the service industry costs about 16 percent of their annual salary. For a $12/hour employee, that will cost your company between $3,000 and $4,000, depending on the seasonality of the position. Take the number of terminations last year and multiply that by $3,000. Was that number higher than expected? And more importantly, what could you have done with that money instead?

Now back to the main discussion about the interview process. While everyone’s process may vary, the critical aspect is that everyone understands, buys in, and follows the process every time for every candidate. Then collectively as a group you can improve the process over time.

Here are the principles of who should be involved in interviewing:

  1. There should never be one person at the company/branch who does all the interviewing. Just because someone may be good at interviewing or enjoys it, the decision of who is involved depends on which manager is hiring the employee. A hiring manager cannot delegate their interviewing responsibilities.
  2. The hiring manager absolutely needs to be involved with any interviewing for their area. If the hiring manager is new at interviewing or doesn’t feel comfortable, that’s fine. They still need to be there and start practicing until they get better. After all, if you have a title that manages employees, you have responsibility to select, train and develop your team.
  3. Whoever wears the ‘HR’ or ‘recruiting’ hat in the company should be responsible for the first round of screening/qualifying all applicants for. Ideally, this person is not also going to interview the candidate, unless they happen to be the hiring manager. The screening can occur when a candidate drops off an application or over the phone.
  4. If you have multiple leaders who will interview the same candidate, make every attempt to have the interviews completed independently and only review notes after all the interviews are complete. This will help eliminate any bias prior to interviewing a candidate.
  5. Use panel interviews only for certain salary positions that are going to work across multiple business units in the company. If you do use the panel technique, there should be a maximum of three panelists so the candidate feels comfortable and can make eye contact with each person.
  6. Use caution when the big boss often wants to interview each candidate. If they are going to work with or report to the big boss, then include them in the interview process. Otherwise, just schedule a short meeting with the big boss at the end of the interview process for the ‘seal of approval,’ if needed.
  7. When hiring a crew member, involve the supervisor of that crew. Often the production manager makes the mistake of doing all the interviews without any involvement of the supervisor/crew leader. This can be accomplished by having the candidate come back at the beginning or end of the day to meet and greet the supervisor, or possibly the entire crew.

Yes, it does take time and dedication to follow a well-defined interview process for each candidate. You can claim to not have the time for a potentially slower process, but just remember you’re throwing away $3,000 to $4,000 each time you rush the process. Maybe a few dedicated hours of your time turns out to be quite worth it.

Kory Beidler is director of training and development at LandCare.