Interviewing – a process that no one looks forward to.
Whether you’re trying to get hired or looking for a great employee, the interview process has problems; the worst may be that it just doesn’t work that well. Studies have shown that up to 50% of new hires don’t work out. That’s a big number. But what’s a good number? Employee turnover is estimated to cost anywhere from $5-10,000 to 2x the annual compensation per lost employee. At those rates, even half that number is costly.
Most interviews follow an unstructured format consisting of the hiring manager asking the candidate a series of questions. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always accurately reveal a candidate’s true strengths and weaknesses, soft skills, or on the job performance. It doesn’t take into account the potential for interviewer bias, the difficulty in ensuring consistency in the questions asked and skills evaluated, and it is also inefficient and can take a long time.
This is especially true in the IT industry. Commanding high salaries and working in positions critical to company success; An unsuccessful IT hire is very costly. Low industry unemployment exacerbates this problem of inefficient processes; The best candidates just don’t last that long on the market. Finally, reading a resume and then asking questions doesn’t work very well when it comes to evaluating IT skill sets.
Good news though!
New ideas and technologies are helping companies find ways to do things differently and better. Job Auditions, Video Interviewing, and Virtual Reality are three ways that companies are changing the interview process; Making it more consistent, efficient, and reliable in assessing candidates.
Can they work for you?
Want to know how someone will truly perform on the job? Well, put them on the job! Some companies are finding success by testing candidates out in real time, hiring them for a certain period of time or a particularly short (think week(s) to a month) project before making an official offer. This almost always involves paying them for that time but it’s a small investment compared to the aforementioned costs of a bad hire.
The job audition allows you to evaluate all kinds of things about a candidate; Hard skills like programming or web development, soft skills like problem solving or temperament, as well as their general ability to fit into your team and overall company culture. Whether it’s a week-long project or a longer assignment, more and more companies are finding this is an invaluable tool.
It’s not necessarily something you do with every candidate, of course, but when you’ve narrowed your list down to the most promising, a job audition can be a great way to determine if one or more of those people are a good fit. Contingent assignments mimic job auditions, giving companies the same chance to evaluate suitability on the job. Many companies find permanent employees from the ranks of their contingent workforce for this reason. They are a known commodity.
You might be thinking, “is this really new?” and in one sense you’re right. The ability to have a “face-to-face” interview over the phone isn’t new but in a way the idea is expanding and its use makes it even more valuable.
There are obvious reasons that this does well, such as making it easier and more efficient to schedule interviews for both the candidate and hiring company. A simple video call is particularly useful in the early stages, and speed and efficiency are good things to encourage in the hiring process! Not having to be at the office means that your candidate pool can more easily include people from anywhere, whether it’s an experienced IT manager willing to move from Washington D.C. to Redmond, Washington, or a graduate of MIT looking for a job in Silicon Valley. Geography is not a hindrance!
But companies are taking this a step further and using recorded videos for the interview. The company sends the candidate prerecorded questions and the candidate then records his or her answers and returns the video. This enhances the ease and efficiency of a video interview: a company can record the questions once but send them to multiple candidates. Depending on how many software engineers (or any type of worker) you hire, this can be a big time saver.
Likewise, a candidate can record their answers at their convenience, which means that you can more easily interview people outside of normal business hours (for candidates who currently have a job) and at a time when they are more relaxed and ready. This also allows for better control of the interview, ensuring that all candidates are asked the exact same questions. This helps with consistency and works to fight unconscious bias on the part of the interviewers. A panel of people can review the answers together or separately view and report their assessment; Both can be time savers depending on the nature of your business.
The increasing sophistication of virtual reality tools is driving their usage and usefulness. VR and its cousin AR are popping up everywhere and the scope of how they are used is constantly expanding. For interviewing it allows you to test people out, similar to the job audition, but with less effort and commitment. The increasing sophistication of VR means that you can mimic real work situations more accurately; Which in turn allows for more effective evaluation and the ability to make a better hire.
VR tools can be designed to test a candidate’s hard and soft skills. You can set up scenarios that measure both knowledge and skill level of something as straightforward as coding, or design something that puts their problem solving skills to work, showing you how they deal with set backs or frustrating glitches and interruptions. The possibilities are nearly limitless when you think about it. The idea of the interview is to help you understand your candidates better and make better hiring decisions. VR is a tool with some amazing possibilities that are just beginning to come to light.
There is no one thing that is going to guarantee a perfect hire, no mistakes, ever. It’s a process. You’ll always need to narrow down many candidates to the best of the bunch and eventually to one or two or whatever number depending on how many you are hiring. Some tools are not suitable for the early stages because of time or money but at the part in the process where they can help, that help can be huge.
No one gets it right 100% of the time. We can all use some help. Attracting and retaining great employees is a goal and a challenge for all businesses. These new tools can make that process better and more effective. Good luck!