← Back to blog

Interview Autopsy

July 18, 2016

I have seen it happen first hand.  I have had clients describe it to me first hand.  You and your team have been searching for months for the right candidate to fill a key role.  After hundreds of resumes, hundreds of unqualified applicants getting screened out, and hundreds of hours spent sifting through candidates, you finally have someone who is not only qualified, but is interested!

You let your hiring manager know that this candidate is not like the other 25 that have been presented, interviewed and passed on…this one ticks off all the desired boxes, has a stable job history and was recommended by someone you and your team trust.  Your hiring manager gets back to you with tempered enthusiasm asking you to line up an interview.

Your hiring manager has you on the phone before the candidate has even left the building following the first interview asking to set up the next steps.  You begin lining up the additional steps after speaking to the candidate.  You reach the end of the interview process and your hiring manager is ready to make an offer to the candidate…but then the candidate goes underground, subterranean, vanishes, won’t return emails or calls…or even worse…lets you prepare the offer and either won’t get you an answer or sits on it for a week and declines…what happened?  Where did this go wrong?  How could it have been prevented?  If you haven’t ever completed an interview autopsy, now is the time.  Take a look back at possible red flags or warning signs:

1. After the first interview, did you ask any of these questions: “What other opportunities are you working on?”  “Do you have any offers on the table or are you expecting any offers?”  “What did hear that you liked about our position and what did you hear that is a concern?”  “Is there anything personally or professionally which would prevent you from accepting this position in the next 30-60 days?”

Digging up what your candidate already has in the hopper and getting an idea of their timeframe will not only help you determine how realistic this hire will be, but will give you insight into what you are up against in the competition to win the talent.

2. If your candidate was already employed when interviewing with you, did you address counter offer?  Did you ask: “What would happen if you resigned from your current job and your employer made you a counter offer?”  

This question will really open your eyes to a candidate’s motivations and likelihood of using your offer as leverage at their current employer.  If you don’t have information on hand, now would be a good time to compile information to send/share with your candidate on the damage that can be done to their career and reputation if they were to accept a counter offer.

3. Did you set expectations on communication with the candidate from day one?  Informing the candidate up front on your expectation on them getting back to you is a great way to make the interview process flow and let you know when there may be something going on the candidate is not telling you.  If your candidate has been calling you back within 24 hours of your voicemails after the first couple interviews and then all of the sudden doesn’t return a call or email for three for four days…something is up.

4. At the beginning of each debrief with your candidate, do you ask “Has anything changed since the last time we spoke?”

Sometimes the candidates get a bad wrap for not being honest about telling a potential employer about additional opportunities that pop up during your interview process…but sometimes it is our own fault for simply not asking.

5. Did you stop your search process after identifying “The One”?  This can be disastrous.  Especially after an exhausting search which finally yields an “acceptable” or “qualified” candidate.  Don’t stop searching!  The best way to deal with a candidate abducted by aliens, is to have a back up.

6. Did you ever really know “why” the candidate applied or let their friend refer them in the first place?  Did you ask: “Why did you apply to this position?”  “What is it about our company or this role that made you apply?”

Knowing the motivation behind the candidate’s initial interest will allow you to educate your hiring managers on how to sell the position/company to the candidate.  Make no mistake, the best, most qualified candidates are not applying off job boards, are not unemployed typically.  These candidates are usually happy and must be sold.  Give them a reason to come to your company, firm or institution.  Find out what is driving them and how your position/firm/company can help them or solve a problem for them.  This is a two-way street and most hiring managers feel the candidate is the only person selling in an interview and that couldn’t be further from the truth.  Educate your hiring managers on the candidate’s hot buttons and help them sell.  Role playing with your hiring managers could go a long way in avoiding your candidate falling into the abyss.