WeWork Talent Associate Emma Parkinson on How to Prepare For and Run Your Onsite Interviews
You’ve narrowed your pool of candidates down to a select few, and you’re ready to bring them in for on-site interviews. Emma Parkinson, WeWork talent acquisition associate, explains how to prepare for and run your interviews so you can make the best hire for the job and create an excellent candidate experience in the process.
The week before the interview
Before you bring any candidates on-site, you need to prep them. “You want to walk them through the interview day,” Parkinson says. Generally speaking, when you bring people on site, you want them to spend a couple of hours with you and your team. “Let them know who they’ll be meeting with, what those people’s titles are, particular topics you and your team will want to discuss when you meet, etc. It shows accountability and a commitment on your company’s side to making people feel prepared and making the best use of everyone’s time on the day of the interview.” A prep call is also an opportunity to confirm things like candidate’s salary ranges and potential start dates.
You should also set your interview slate (here’s a helpful article on slates) and make sure you put time on all of your interviewer’s calendars for the day of the interview. You’ll also need to book meeting space for your interviews—the earlier you do this, the better, to guarantee that you aren’t scrambling for space on the day of the interview.
The day before the interview
Send an email to your candidate confirming the start time and location for tomorrow’s interviews. “If you sent a calendar invite a long time ago, it's always good to follow up the day before,” Parkinson says. You should also confirm with all of your interviewers, and send them reminders on what each person should be focusing on during their time with the candidate. “Include a little refresher on the candidate and their resume,” Parkinson says. “Reiterate the importance of being on time for their interviews. You never want the candidate to be sitting alone in a room waiting for someone.”
“One thing that was helpful at my previous company when we were in rapid growth was creating Slack channels with everyone on the team who was scheduled to meet with a candidate,” Parkinson says. “If you need to switch rooms, or if someone’s running late, it’s a good, quick way to communicate.”
You also want to finalize your schedule for the next day. Remember to build in time for the candidate to get some water, use the restroom, etc. “Always include breaks in the schedule,” Parkinson says. “And make sure you set the first 15 minutes of the day for a quick tour of your space, letting the candidate get settled, and to account for any delays in their arrival.”
The day of the interview
Send final reminders to your interviewers on the time of their interviews (use that Slack channel to send them if you created one), and be ready to greet the candidate when they arrive. “You want to be timely and appear prepared,” Parkinson says. Put yourself in the candidate’s shoes and remember that they might be nervous, so do your best to make them feel comfortable.
Remember that it’s your job to keep your interviews running on time, and it’s best to “expect the unexpected,” Parkinson says. “You can prepare and organize but things come up. The website could go down and suddenly your engineering lead can’t make their interview slot, for example,” Parkinson says. Try to think of backups on your team you could pull in if things go awry day of.
After your interviews are done, “let the candidate know how much you appreciate them taking the time to come in and speak with you and your team, and let them know that you’ll be following up soon on next steps,” Parkinson says. Debrief with your team of interviewers that same day, if possible, so everyone’s thoughts on the candidate are fresh in their minds and you can decide as a team whether to move forward with next steps or let the candidate know that it’s not a good fit.
The most important thing to remember, in addition to getting all of the information you need to make a decision about the candidate, “is to put yourself in their shoes and focus on creating a delightful, positive experience for them,” Parkinson says. “You don’t want to someone to feel like they had a strange or negative interview with your company. You want them to walk away having learned something about you and your team, at the very least, and speaking highly of you out in the world.”
For more tips and information on hiring and interviewing, check out this page.
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