When it comes to HR trends where the US leads we tend to take notice.
So a recent article that drew attention to the increased use of
multiple interviews peaked my interest. It appears some companies are
asking candidates to attend 5 or 6 even 7 interviews before they make
a final decision! Appointing the wrong person can be an expensive
mistake. A square peg in a round hole can be very disruptive and by
the time it’s becomes clear that this was a poor appointment it can be
a difficult and protracted process to rectify. So caution is
understandable but this comes over as indecisive and surly risks
losing strong candidates who simple become weary of the process.
This belt and braces approach to recruitment interviews may be as
a consequence of the particular area of business where due to the
pandemic there are suddenly a large number of suitably qualified and
experienced candidates chasing fewer posts. Multiple interviews is a
away of whittling down the numbers. Which would explain reports that
when candidates asked HR how many interview rounds there would be they
were informed it had yet to be decided!
An alternative explanation for the use of multiple interviews is a
genuine attempt to recruit a more diverse workforce. If an
organisation wants to increase the range of candidates applying for a
post then one very effective way is to keep the person specification
as general as possible. For example when I was recruiting for managers
to run Residential Homes for older people instead of experience of
working with older people I asked for experience of working with
vulnerable people. If you subscribe to the view that management skills
are transferable and applied this to the person specification you
would dramatically increase the pool of candidates. Remove the
desirable criteria, after all they are just unnecessary hurdles, and
introduce a guaranteed interview policy for underrepresented groups.
And watch a tsunami of on line application forms hit HR. With no way
of reducing the numbers other than by interview.
There is of course not much point in attracting a very diverse
range of candidates if you then leave it to two white men to whittle
down the long list. What you need is balanced interview panels. But
how balanced? Gender and race? Most organisation are underrepresented
at a middle and senior level by black and minority ethics managers. A
balance interview panel in terms of race would end up being a full
time job for this small group of BME managers. And what about
disability, sexuality, faith and age?
Managers will tell you they are far to busy running the business/
organisation to be sitting around all day interviewing people. So
should HR do all the heavy lifting or should it be outsourced? Get a
recruitment agency to do the long listing as many organisations do for
In my experience the standard recruitment process for senior
posts involves only two interviews. Based on their application form
the candidate is invited to a long list interview and if successful is
shortlisted and invited back for the final interview. However that
second interview may take place over two days as part of an assessment
centre involving numeracy and literacy tests, an in-tray exercise and
even a role play exercise. These two day affairs often include
informal interviews prior to the final panel interview. I have
experienced so called informal interviews with the chief executive,
other members of the senior management team and on more than one
occasion a range of representatives from partner agencies. They are
called informal because they take place whilst a buffet is being
served in a sort of trial by sherry or because those asking the
questions don’t actually get to make the decision on who is appointed.
Despite the tests and the informal interviews traditionally the
decision is made by the interview panel solely on the formal interview.
My only experience of calling candidates back for a further
interview is not promising. Having interviewed three people for the
post the panel was locked between two candidates. Both candidates
performance was reviewed in detail but the hour was getting late and
agreement couldn’t be reached. So it was decided to invite all three
back for a further interview the following week. Of the two candidates
the panel could not decide between one pulled out. The candidate who
withdrew didn’t give a reason. Maybe they didn’t want to put
themselves through what they viewed as another gruelling interview or
they lost patience and faith in the process due to our indecisiveness.
Blair Mcpherson former Director, author and blogger www.blairmcpherson.co.uk