Lifecycle Mastery: Interviewing for the Right Talent

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Mar 1, 2017

This is part two of a six part look at how employers can master the talent lifecycle in a way that will help build a high performing workforce. Today’s post examines interviewing. Other posts are listed at the end of this article.


You created your ideal candidate profile, promoted your job openings, and emphasized the importance of goals to job seekers. You close your job posting and find yourself with a large pool of potential new hires. Now where do you begin to dig into all of this talent?

Assessing job candidates is very daunting, considering the high cost of turnover as well as the amount of time and energy it takes to go through each application. To avoid losing top candidates, you want to be as fast and efficient as possible.

Speed is not a commonly held strength for many hiring professionals. Glassdoor’s Why Is Hiring Taking Longer report found that, from 2010 to 2014, the average time it takes to hire an employee in the U.S. increased from 12.6 days to 22.9 days. Over the course of those three weeks, you could be losing a lot of A players if you’re stuck in a bloated, ineffective assessment process.

Here are a few tips to help you save time while finding the best talent in your candidate pool.

Measure quality of hire

You can’t refine and improve your assessment process without looking at numbers. Measure how your hiring team makes decisions so you can make improvements.

Quality of hire is a general metric for overall quality of fit for new hires. It gives you a look at how effective your departments and managers are at hiring candidates who adapt well to a company’s core values and rhythm. Schedule an anniversary-based review where the new hire can reflect on their performance and their ability to assimilate into the culture.

Look at achievement rates for new hires’ goals. This tells you whether or not they are meeting expectations. Also, ask them if they feel like they fit the role they were hired for.

It’s equally important to get the hiring manager’s perspective, so survey them as well. Perform these assessments at the time of hire and on anniversaries, which may be at six months or a year. A simple way to see if the new hire is meeting expectations is to ask the hiring team if they would rehire the employee.

These surveys are done after the hire is made, but the data should be used to inform the recruitment and assessment process. For example, if the new hire doesn’t feel like they were qualified for the responsibilities, look at what requirements you list. Reviewing job postings and evaluate what an ideal candidate would be to improve this process.

You also want to look at pre-hire metrics like how many candidates your hiring manager sees before they make an offer or the rate of passive candidate conversion. When you combine these metrics for pre- and post-hire quality, you have a full view of where your team is struggling and what your hiring team does well.

What do they have in common with the best?

Look for correlative data to determine how to hire people similar to your best employees. Use performance tracking from top performers and see what candidates share with them.

For example, a candidate may come from a similar background and possess many of the same strengths as some of your top performers. What else do they have in common? That candidate may be your next A player.

Don’t forget to assess the candidate’s attitude and how they behave. When you observe top performers and survey them about how they perform their duties, you have information you can use during an interview.

Let’s say your best sales representative reports that when he is faced with losing a current client, he uses that as an opportunity to better understand their concerns. Therefore, he asks them about their three most pressing pain points and then follows up with solutions that he can put into action immediately.

You can use that anecdote to develop an interview question. Ask your candidate how they would approach a client who intended to end their contract. They may answer it similarly, which shows they share a solutions-oriented mindset and strong understanding of client retention.

Identifying top performers is crucial because you can then gather information about them to make faster and more effective hiring decisions. Using correlative data saves you time on assessing and screening a high-potential candidate.

Ask the right questions

Know what questions will get you the information you need to make a hiring decision. Make sure you review your ideal candidate profile to deepen your understanding of what you need in the role.

Then, it’s time to start writing questions. Let’s say you’re hiring a marketing specialist. Start by asking fact-based questions to see if they do, in fact, possess the experience and skills necessary for the job. For example, inquire about what strategies they prefer to use or what their most successful marketing campaign was.

Develop your situational questions from correlative data you gathered from your top performers. You also want to develop other situations to get a full perspective of how they handle obstacles. A great question would be, “Google’s algorithm recently changed, which made your current SEO strategy ineffective. What do you do next?”

Behavioral questions

Behavioral questions are great for predicting how the candidate will behave in the future. An example of a good behavioral question is, “Describe a time where you made an error and had to develop a solution quickly.”

When you ask the right questions, you will be more confident in your decision making. Confidence is crucial — you’re not dragging your feet, second guessing everything; you’re writing an offer before you lose the best candidate.

Share company goals

During the interviewing and screening process, emphasize your company’s long-term goals so they understand how you align employees with the larger-scale vision. But how can you engage candidates with that vision?

Involve tenured employees in the interview so they can share their personal story of how they stayed and grew with the company. When it comes from a direct source, the message is clear and more meaningful.

At this point, your candidates should know that you value employee development. If they are interested, they will stay and grow with you.

Stay in touch

It’s important to develop and maintain a relationship with candidates who don’t fit the role they applied for, but who may still have a future with you. Build a pipeline of talent so you can make great hires in the future.

Not surprisingly, talent goes where opportunity awaits. LinkedIn’s Why and How People Change Jobs report found that 45% of the 10,536 people surveyed who changed companies between late 2014 and early 2015 say they left because they were concerned about a lack of advancement opportunities. 59% say they started a new job for a stronger career path and more opportunity.

If you keep talent engaged and stay connected with them through social media and email, you can bring them on in a role that best fits them. Use your growth opportunities to attract them. This way, you’re making top quality hires in a lot less time.

When you’re recruiting, assessing, and selecting the best talent, you are well on your way to mastering the talent lifecycle. Next, you need to refine your onboarding process, training and development, performance management, and succession planning.

Other posts in this series: