We originally wrote this blog post keeping in mind the applicants as the main audience, but as we thought about it more, it turned into advice for our hiring manager friends. We still think this is great advice for job applicants though!
1. Paid trial projects
Once you have your best candidate(s) picked out, you can give them a paid trial projects at your company before you turn them into full-time employees. Even after a thorough resume reading, reference check, a test and an interview, the candidate can prove to be a bad fit for your team. After all, who can guarantee that they will keep the performance from the test task all the way throughout their time as an employee?
As a CEO of one company says, only one in three new hires worked out before they implemented trial periods. Once they started with trials, they hired 3 out of 7 people who started the 30-day contract period.
While bigger companies can allow themselves an occasional hiring mistake, small teams and startups can feel the effects of every new hire, good or bad. Trial periods allow you to take a glance at someone’s performance before making a full commitment, lowering your risk of making a larger mistake.
Pros and Cons
Pros: Being able to see real-world performance as part of your team. Being able to see work ethics and culture fit immediately. Low risk.
Cons: Training candidates for trial periods can be time-consuming and costly.
2. Phone and Video Interviews
Before video became big, phone screening was one of the major ways of communicating with candidates before calling them in for a proper interview. They’re still common to this day, and they’re a good method to learn more about someone without hassling the candidate to come in and worry about commuting and missing out from their ongoing job if they have one. To get the phone interview right:
Be consistent. Ask all candidates the same questions. Don’t get sidetracked and lost in the conversation – you’re in the lead.
Have a worksheet. Unless you’re recording the calls (if you are – do let the candidate know about it), you have to write down the candidates’ replies to your questions. You can type them out or simply have a worksheet standing by, where you can tick the appropriate boxes for each question.
Schedule the calls. Most candidates will be happy to know that they’re going to the next round of the hiring process. However, they probably won’t appreciate being called at any random point in time – you may catch them at their current job or in their leisure time. Schedule the call ahead so the candidate knows when to expect to hear from you.
Pros and Cons
Pros: Relatively easy to do. You learn about candidates’ communication skills and availability.
Cons: Scheduling a phone call can be a logistics nightmare. Phone interviews take a lot of time to do right with very little to show in return.
Next to a live interview, a video interview is the second-best thing for getting to know more about the candidates. Thanks to a host of video tools available at the moment (Zoom, Skype, GetVoIP, Appear.in…), you can schedule a video interview fairly easily. Here are some steps to do it right:
Prepare the questions in advance. Have a list of questions you want to ask each candidate and try not to stray too far from it. You can take notes or tick off a checklist with relevant points.
Pay attention to the presentation. How does the candidate behave? What is their body language like? Do they smile a lot, are they confident? There’s a lot you can tell from the way someone presents themselves during an interview – and this is especially important for customer-facing roles.
Mind the environment. Is the candidate having the interview in their living room, with children playing in the background and Discovery TV on full blast? Ideally, the candidate should pick a quiet place for the interview, without clutter, trash or background noise. In this way, you can see how seriously they take your company and the position. Likewise, you should have a professional-looking background as the interviewer as well. We’ve got a whole article on conducting an effective virtual interview, if you’re into that kind of thing.
Pros and Cons
Pros: Easy to do. You can find out about body language, communication and presentation skills. Candidates can have an interview without commuting to your office.
Cons: Scheduling can be difficult. Great presenters aren’t necessarily great performers.
3. One-way video interviews
If you don’t have the time or the manpower to do a large volume of video interviews, you can simply ask the candidates to interview themselves for you. Once you have a list of candidates to interview, send them a list of questions to respond to and ask them to send in the video. This way, the weight of the interview is on the candidate, while you can sit back and see what they have to say. You can also check out our tips on how to personalize the one-way interviews.
Pros and Cons
Pros: Quick and effective. You can watch videos as they come in, without worrying about scheduling, time-zones, HR team availability etc.
Cons: The more you require from your candidates, the higher the chances that they will give up mid-way through the application. Your candidates may not be willing (or able) to record a video interview and send it in.
The best method for screening candidates is…
Ideally, all of the above. Of course, it’s not necessary to do phone, video and in-person interviews for one and the same candidate. However, it would be good to take a look at the candidate’s resume, cover letter, ask them to do a test, invite them for an interview and a paid test week and make a final call.
However, doing all of this requires a lot of time, resources, and manpower and there are very few companies that can do it all.
To single out the best all-around method for screening candidates, it would be using pre-employment testing tools as one part of the hiring process. By taking a quick pre-employment skills test, a candidate can show their ability to get the job done. When using Resume Wiz interview prep and coaching service at the very start of the hiring process, companies can eliminate the bulk of unqualified candidates before they even take a single glance at their resume or ask them in for an interview.