Candidates and employers have something in common.
Neither is particularly good at interviewing.
For candidates that is especially so since most go through the job change process between seven and 12 times during a 40 to 45 years career, according to the best estimates available.
Jim, a highly successful healthcare executive who had worked in three industries, had changed jobs 11 times. That number may seem like a lot but when you realize that his career covered 47 years, his accumulated experience in interviewing was not really sufficient to qualify him as a job search/interviewing expert. Moreover, he had never taken a class or worked with a coach to help him excel.
Prospective employers may have excellent talent planning, sourcing and tracking systems but the most common problem on their side of the employment equation is the same — the lack of experience of the people conducting the interview. Few organizations invest money in teaching their managers and executives how to be a better interviewer. They just assume that everyone already knows how.
A former search consultant I know said one of the biggest problems in the employment process is a lack of preparedness. “I considered it a win-win if everyone on the interview team had read the resume and remembered to bring it to the interview.” To me that seems like setting the performance bar at sea level.
Panel interviews, which can expose the candidate to a broader range of personnel are theoretically a good idea. However, it is helpful and more productive if there is a team leader who’s been trained to guide the group and meets with the panel a day or two before the candidate visits, to coordinate strategy and areas of focus. We take it for granted that everyone knows how to conduct a good interview when the truth is most people do not. For many on the panel interview it is just another meeting in a day full of meetings. They may not fully grasp the problems that will occur, or the cost that will be incurred, if the wrong person is selected.
Many of these issues also extend into the one-on-one interviews — lack of preparation and no coordination with other colleagues who will be interviewing the candidate regarding themes of inquiry or specific questions that should be asked. Their limited experience in how to tease revealing information from the candidate is apparent. Moreover, candidates say that it is not uncommon to be asked the same set of standard questions from one interview to the next throughout the day.
In industries like healthcare, where diminishing reimbursement and other cost-reduction incentives are squeezing the bottom line, there is little or no room to lose money because the wrong person was picked. CEOs who are quick to invest in technology ever hopeful that the bells and whistles will solve their problem, might want to think about investing in training for directors and executives — anyone who might be called on to interview future employers. Investment in technology is just that, an investment. Spending money to train people to be better interviewers is considered by some to be an expense to be reduced or eliminated.
A popular snappy saying that you see periodically on LinkedIn and on slides in speeches, goes like this:
CFO: What happens if we spend all this money training our employees and they leave us?
CEO: What if we don’t invest in training them and they stay?
When it comes to hiring people, saving money by not investing in this kind of training, will have serious, competitive and bottom line consequences.
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