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The Interview Process: 4 Simple Ways to Make it 'Forward-Thinking'

A candidate's adaptability, the consistency of the interview process and a true match between the candidate and company are important indicators.
The Interview Process: 4 Simple Ways to Make it 'Forward-Thinking'
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The pursuit of top talent isn't just an immediate goal hiring managers face in their efforts to satisfy their companies' internal needs. That pursuit is also the ongoing challenge they have for meeting the evolving expectations of their customer base over time.

Related: 7 Interview Questions To Help You Hire Superstars

Consider the case of Gateway Engineers, Just last year, the civil engineering firm was looking for a way to build long-term customer satisfaction within its employee network. But the firm, based in Pittsburgh, faced a challenge: learning what to do to hire more "A" players.

Given that challenge, Gateway changed its hiring process. It opted for an applicant-tracking system (ATS) to create more dynamic job descriptions. The ATS also gave the company greater confidence in its quality of hire when its employees reached out to their networks about open positions. 

Employee networking fuels a remarkable number of successful hires. In fact, a February 2016 LinkedIn study of HR managers surveyed found that 85 percent of jobs at the companies surveyed had been filled by networking.

While such referrals made candidates easier to find, Gateway used its ATS as a forward-thinking move to hire better candidates. As a result, the firm made better hiring decisions, boosted company morale and more easily transitioned new hires to quickly meet the demands of its growing ranks.

Gateway had a good experience with its new applicant-tracking system. But an ATS alone cannot guarantee success in hiring the best quality talent. Here are four additional methods hiring managers can use to be "forward-thinkers" during the step that follows the initial one of finding good candidates.

That next step, of course, is the interview process:

Strive for consistency.

An inconsistent interview process can lead to the hiring of bad candidates. The Brandon Hall Group published a study, The True Cost of a Bad Hire, in 2015, finding that 69 percent of companies surveyed identified a broken review process as the “greatest impact on the quality of a hire.”

Related: 8 Revealing Interview Questions to Hire Standout Staff

The solution to building a good interview process, then, is to make sure it’s consistent. Managers should use scorecards that have a “benchmark” comparison for all potential new hires. Metrics should be used in the evaluation but shouldn’t be overdone.

Finally, whoever is evaluating the candidates should ensure that the metrics can’t be easily manipulated. The data won’t effectively reveal the quality of the potential new hire if the candidate is able to cheat the system to make himself or herself look better.

Look for adaptability.

A new employee must be fluid in his or her thought process. As jobs have become more complex, they're requiring more creative solutions to problems that arise.

There’s an added value to employees who can “adapt to new situations” and constantly adjust to the inevitability of change. Kristen Lee, lead faculty member of Behavioral Science at Northwestern University in Boston, said in an interview with Career Builder this month that, “Rigid thinking doesn’t have a place now, and it won’t have a place in upcoming jobs, either.”

Hiring managers need to pose more creative questions and scenarios which provide a mental exercise for candidates. The correct answer isn’t as important as how the candidate arrived at the solution he or she proposes. What managers should be looking for is the potential new hire’s ability to work through a problem and provide a cogent explanation behind that thought process.

Walk the walk.

Gallup’s January 2017 study, Strengths-Based Cultures Attract Top Recruits, included 6,600 employees in the United States as well as other countries. The study found that people joined organizations because those organizations either presented chances for them to leverage their skills or matched who they were and what they believed in.

Candidates who truly felt that "match" when they accepted a job offer were more likely to be highly qualified for the role they interviewed for.

Hiring managers should make it a priority to bring prospective new hires in for a tour of the company. During that introduction, the managers will be able to figure out if any one candidate is a good cultural fit. They will also be able to better assess if this candidate is truly interested in the exact position.

Have candidates meet potential co-workers from the specific department they’re applying to. A few such one-on-one meetings with the staff they’ll be working with side by side will be a good test to see how well they connect, from various players' perspectives.

Measure and adjust.

Companies should make it a point to use data and analytics when making new hires. Analytics are a great help in determining how well new employees are gelling with their team. Hiring managers equipped with hard data will be able to identify any gaps or problems potential employees have, then adjust the process as needed.

A 2017 survey, Human Capital Management, by HR.Com and my own company, ClearCompany, found that only 47 percent of participants measured the quality of their hires. Without assessing and adjusting for overall employee satisfaction and performance metrics in the hiring process, an organization risks costly losses, due to future failures in employee retention.

Furthermore, the study found, 75 percent of job turnover occurs among new employees in entry-level positions. When data and analytics drive the interview process, new hires are more likely to satisfy all of the demands of their new roles, including employee and customer relations. This is a topic HR.Com will be tackling in its upcoming webcast, "How to Help Leaders Effectively Manage Today’s Human Capital."

Related: Ask These 24 Interview Questions to Find a Marketing Rock Star

Overall: Plenty of methods exist to ensure an improved interview process and the hiring of better talent. Whether it’s through consistency, creative questions or metrics, hiring managers need to focus on how to maximize the hiring process through forward thinking and create a strategy that works for their organizations' needs.

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