Believe it or not – interviewers aren’t the only ones who bang their heads against the walls trying to grasp how to set up an interview process that works well for everyone. Candidates have been taking notes as well, and they have a thing or two to discuss regarding the interview process timeline, questions, and other factors. Seasoned tech professionals have seen it all. Starting with unintentionally hilarious LinkedIn messages, all the way to technical screenings that felt kinda off – to say the least. However, they did spot some noteworthy practices and patterns. And so did we. So, just how do you set up an interview process that isn’t tedious? Let’s analyze the subject thoroughly from various angles.
What Is a Good Interview Structure?
Is there such a thing, or is a properly structured interviewing process just a myth? There is good and bad in each hiring process and in every tech company. Some strategies have simply been there ever since the dawn of men. Some work excellently, and some are considered unpreventable. You get where this is going. That’s right – no one likes them.
The simple truth is that there is no one accurate answer to the question – How do you structure an interview? Nor is there one regarding structuring the entire process. I believe that the word we are looking for is customizing.
Each employer has a different perspective. Every business has unique hiring needs. And that being said, let’s take a peek at one prime classification.
We can place some businesses in a category of young firms, and, naturally, their counterparts are more mature organizations.
The first group encompasses startups and trendy teams, brand-oriented, and with a strong feel for the appearances. Mature companies are well-established and don’t have much market conquering to do.
So, is there such a thing as a good interview structure? Sure there is. It’s just that its definition depends on who you’re asking.
But we’ll get back to that!
A Typical Interview Process in a Young Company Can Be Too Complex
Businesses that are aiming to grow and scale show different fields of interest when coming up with a hiring tactic. However, there is a visible paradox that depicts their ways. They are all after senior developers, ninjas, pirates, and other IT leprechauns. On the other hand – they are often defiant when it comes to simplifying their processes. Multi-step screenings, whiteboards, and homework assignments sometimes seem to be getting out of hand.
Here is a massive disclaimer: not all young companies are like this. But those who are, think that they have solid reasons to dig (this) deep into the applicant’s knowledge and background. Are they right? And how much does it cost?
As the complexity of the open position rises, the number of involved individuals grows as well. More people participating = more hiring costs. The math is simple. And the processes should be too.
What Are the Steps Involved in the Interview Process? [The Bad]
To gain the most precise insight into the interview process steps, let’s take into account more than one example.
Here’s one scenario – imagine that you find yourself in a procedure that implies a warm welcome with an HR representative and one engineer. After that, you must get ready to do the homework and have it reviewed. So, what’s next? Maybe a chit-chat with two engineers, followed by a talk with a CTO. And that’s still not it. Brace yourself for the final round.
So, how long is the tech interview process? If there are seven steps for you to take, do the math.
There are ways to shorten it, however. For instance, if a company has more than two employees, CTO’s involvement can be obsolete.
If you have seven rounds to go, imagine how long it will take to receive a job offer. By all accounts, the process can stretch up to three months. And slow hiring is a horrible choice for the company and the candidate.
What Should I Expect in a Technical Interview? [The Ugly]
Now that we have seen how to lose a candidate in seven rounds let’s look into another procedure. Did you hope for a more structured interview process? Well, this one is even more lengthy and redundant.
Picture yourself in another loop, where after the warm welcome, you must undergo a code challenge, followed by… a whiteboard interview. Don’t worry, you will have more onsite interviews to attend after that. And once again, we are in a situation where seven rounds raise the hiring costs and leave an unfavorable candidate experience.
Lastly, when we have such a long way to go until the final offer – when is the right time to discuss salary expectations? It would be wise to get it over with right at the beginning. Or – save it for the end and use your negotiation skills.
Personality Tests as Interview Process Steps
Personality tests are used in some assessments. Although their results can partially indicate whether a candidate is a match when it comes to soft skills and company culture, these tests can rarely give an utterly accurate insight. And because of that, they can’t be labeled as the most solid point of reference.
Nevertheless, if you’re still keen on conducting them, the right way to squeeze them into the process is to place them as a second step.
In an ideal outline, the first stage should be a light-tech talk with engineers. After this initial screening, HR takes over. That way, when you have two convos going on, it is much easier to estimate both tech and soft skills – simultaneously.
The right way to squeeze it into the process is to place it as a second step. The first one should be a light-tech talk with engineers. After the initial screening, HR takes over. That way, when you have two convos going on, it is much easier to estimate both tech and soft skills – simultaneously.
More Involvement of HR or Recruitment Specialists
What if HR was present during the welcome interview, the first round of technical screening, and over the course of the final interview? Here is a perk of this approach – applicants always receive detailed feedback after each stage. That is quite impressive. However, it can be somewhat time-consuming. This sort of hiring tactic suits junior developers and interns. However, an experienced software engineer can leave displeased since a process of this sort can have six rounds, and it can be prolonged.
How Do You Structure an Interview Process? – Mature Company’s Perspective
If we rely on the data provided by candidates (and some technical interviewers’ insights), well-established organizations usually have simpler processes. Their applicants usually have to go through 2 to 4 rounds of interviewing.
An ideal case of simplicity would entail a welcome meeting, homework in the form of a technical quiz that encompasses several areas of interest (from the employer’s perspective), and it would be finalized by an on-site meet where the candidate’s soft skills are assessed. The last round serves as proof that the potential hire belongs on the team and that they are a match culture-vise.
Here’s a similarly positive idea – conducting each meeting online. Every stage is much like in the previous example. And what is the best part of both methods? Live coding isn’t included. A simple screening process saves time and money. Lastly, it leaves the applicants under a positive impression.
And here’s a thought for those who simply must include live-coding into the equation – allow applicants to use Google. It’s not like they will copy someone’s homework or obtain unusable knowledge in a few hours. They aren’t cheating. They’re using resources as a reminder.
It’s time for another disclaimer – not all mature companies embrace these short and sweet processes. However, it is in everyone’s best interest to apply them ASAP.
How to Set up an Interview Process – Conclusion by KPIs
If we base our assumptions on the experiences above, we can tell that an average interview process has four rounds. In most scenarios, one round is reserved for the infamous whiteboard interviews.
Having it all shortened and simplified will cut the company’s hiring costs. Moreover, it will reduce the costs of an empty seat by shortening the time to hire.
Did you have enough of the HR metrics yet? Well, here is one last KPI to spice up the summary – a positive candidate experience is inseparable from a positive employee experience. In-house developers who aren’t bound to conduct technical interviews frequently are more productive and satisfied.
Avoiding live coding and whiteboard interviews at all costs is paramount. They are stressful, time-consuming, and can end up being more expensive than the employer could imagine.
And here is a bonus tip for employers: Use referrals to crush your recruitment targets! Once your processes are structured, utilize the best possible way to reach talent.