Losing Out on Talent Part 2: The Interview

Matt Meisenbacher
May 11, 2016

This is the second installment of the multi-part blog series, "Losing Out on Talent." Click here to read Part One: The Phone Screen

(Preface) Over the course of my tenure with LaunchSource, I have worked in different facets, with around 40 companies that have utilized our program to help scale their growth and make great additions to their existing sales team from an entry-level standpoint. With each company comes a unique and specific interviewing process by which they further scrutinize and screen our candidates until they find the individual that suits them best.

Ideally, that candidate sees that company as where they want to work, the paperwork is signed, and the start date comes and goes without any bumps. However, there are occasions where companies lose out on their ideal candidate(s) for reasons that are avoidable or unnecessary. Think “unforced errors.” Let’s take a look at some of the most common errors I’ve come across and ways to remedy them.

Part 2: The Onsite Interview

So the phone screen is done. The candidate clearly demonstrated their understanding of the role and how your company makes its clients successful. Fantastic! Go on and schedule an on-site interview. We know, the specifics of interview practices and procedures vary from company to company. You might be saying, “I have a ton of experience in hiring, I know what I’m doing” Yup...we know...we’ve heard that before, and you are probably great at your job! But I’m guessing most people reading this who are in a position of hiring have at one point or another made an offer to a candidate and found out they are no longer seeking employment. Perhaps this could have been avoided, no?

At the end of the day, it comes down to the same thing: is there enough “buy-in” internally to offer this person a position with us? If you’re working with LaunchSource or have in the past, you’ve seen it time and time again: top talent has options. Speed matters. You need to define your interview process. Communication is key. We can’t stress it enough. Here’s why:

You either need to hire or you don’t. Being selective is one thing, but waiting for that mythical unicorn to apply and interview is holding you back from taking someone who’s got most of what you’re looking for and wants to prove they have the rest. Every day that seat is left open is another day of lost revenue. Get it filled. Drawing out the interview and nit-picking answers isn’t helping anyone.

One of the biggest disqualifiers we hear is “well, we’re not sure Johnny really wants a career in sales.” Huge unforced error. Guess what, he’s being honest. He doesn’t know what he wants his career to be and even if he did, it’s likely to change. Johnny might not want to be a closer 5 years from now and rather than lie to your face, he’s being honest. What he does know, is he’s interested in sales, thinks he can be successful in it, and wants to work for a company that he believes in and can develop in. How can you fault him for that? Did your career map go exactly as you had planned? Disqualifying an entry-level candidate because he doesn't have his career choice set in stone will lead you to miss out on some fantastic employees.

Best practice is making the interviews swift and efficient while personalizing each one. It starts with providing a schedule or itinerary for both the applicant and the team. Let’s get everyone on the same page here. Scheduling it out in blocks works wonders for efficiency (blocks meaning scheduled allotments of time in which you can bring candidates through, interview them one after another, and collaborate afterwards as a team). Candidates come rolling in, managers can block off time and decisions are arrived at much faster. Also, get all your heads in a row and make sure they can compare notes. Having a candidate come in for multiple onsite interviews puts you at risk of losing out on talent. One onsite is standard. Two is absolute max and a decision should be made directly afterwards.  

Again, this is an entry-level role. Data shows a decision or an offer should be made within 10-14 days of the initial phone screen. If that doesn't happen, you run the risk of losing out on the best applicants. They’re going to find someone who moves quicker and guess what, to a candidate that shows they’re valued more at one place over another. Stockpiling candidates and holding them in process or “keeping them warm” to make a decision is nonsense. Another unforced error. You’re wasting time. After your interviews are done, there should be a consensus as to a yes or no. There are zero maybes. A maybe is as good as a pass in our book.

In terms of questions or style, those are specific to the individual. There are likely a certain handful of questions you ask all candidates but customizing it a bit for each person can only help. You’re talking to a person, not a robot. Remember what the end goal is here. You’re trying to see if 1: this person can do the job, and 2: they are a fit for you existing team. Don’t lose sight of the forest through the trees. If you’re that confident in your interview style then you should feel good about making selections. Don’t be afraid to give someone a shot at proving themselves...after all, there was probably a time when you were “green” and someone took a shot on you.

If you thought that was helpful you'll probably like Part 3: Post-Interview & Offer where we've got some tips on #WINNING the top candidates!