The Primary Guide To Building an Effective, Enjoyable Interview Process
An all-encompassing resource to help people teams and hiring managers develop questions, manage candidates, and keep the timeline quick.
At Primary our interviewing philosophy comes down to five core attributes: Equitable, Repeatable / Consistent, Data Driven, Thorough, and Enjoyable! We have worked with dozens of our portfolio companies on how to implement these key elements from the genesis of their hiring so they are set up for success in the long run.
The job packet
The job packet is not just the job description; it’s a comprehensive living document including; the core job, the core KPIs, interview loop, and interview questions that helps form the job description. We challenge you to dig deeper here, the information you put into the job packet will eventually form your job description. The goal of the job packet is for you and your hiring team to think critically about if the person started today and in a year from now what would they have delivered? What measure outcomes would they have delivered? From here we figure out what competencies they need to possess in order to deliver on those outcomes.
Competencies versus attributes
We have already identified what core competencies need to be for the candidate to be successful in this particular role. Next we need to think about what are the cultural attributes this person needs to have to make them a fit for your workflow. Attributes such as “collaboration, driven, low ego” will be baked into your interview loop and assessed by everyone on the interview team.
Building an interview team
Once you have your competencies and attributes identified, you will need to decide who are the key stakeholders within your business that need to evaluate for this role. We highly encourage you to not have more than five steps in your interview process and be up front with the candidate from the start. We also encourage you to ensure you have a wide range of stakeholders within these interviews, a mix of junior, middle, and senior employees, of course this completely depends on the position.
Creating an assessment
This is often the spot where things fall apart, so it is critical that you come up with specific assessment questions that each interviewer will consistently ask each candidate they interview. Consistency and thoroughness are absolutely key here; questions need to be measurable and consistent but still asked in a way that doesn't seem robotic.
When assigning questions and competencies to test it is okay if the competencies overlap, but ensure every interviewer has their own specific questions they will ask.
An example would be…
Outcome Expected: Consult regularly with customers to understand their pain points and develop strategies to proactively problem solve.
Competency needed: User-first mindset: The candidate approaches problems by first understanding the user's needs. When answering questions internally, they refer back to the customers and their needs.
Assessment Question: Tell me about a time a customer had a problem you’d never seen before and how you approached it?
This is absolutely a two-way street. While we hope candidates are prepared for the interview, it is equally important that the interviewer is as well. The interviewer should take time to review the candidate's resume and experience in detail and make notes. Additionally, the interviewer should review the competencies and specific questions they have for the pressure test to ensure they are clear on the expectations.
Once you have your assessment questions, it is important to review them and make sure you do not come off robotic. Remember, above all else you want to make this a pleasant experience for everyone involved.
Tracking feedback is so important as you scale your team and interview more candidates. You will also be able to track data this way and look back at interview trends and figure out what is working and what you might have to change.
Feedback should include the competency question answers, interviewer feedback, and any notes / concerns about the interview. Feedback should ONLY be shared with the hiring manager and recruitment team. Interview feedback should not be shared with anyone else on the interview team or on the office floor. Sharing feedback can make other interviewers predisposed to bias or make other team members uncomfortable, especially if this person could be their manager or peer.
In this labor market it is crucial to keep things moving quickly before you lose out on great candidates.
- No more than 24 hours between communications
- Keep it casual
- Follow up with articles / insightful info
- Action items
- Text them!
When it comes to decision making we encourage you to debrief on the candidate as soon as possible. The hiring manager should review all interview feedback and put together a roundtable if possible, where everyone at the table gets a voice. One thing we highly encourage is that every candidate needs to have an advocate on the hiring team or, to put it another way, someone needs to be banging their first on the table saying “We need to hire this candidate.”
You should be having the compensation conversation near the start of the process, ideally on the first call. Ensure you check in with the candidate through the process to ensure nothing has changed on their expectations and remember it is illegal to ask someone’s current compensation in NY state.
Extending offers and after
Before you extend an offer, ensure you have collected the proper backchannels and references on the candidate and had a pre-closing call where you set a tone of transparency and you revisit the job details (compensation, location, etc.).
Offers should always be extended on the phone with a detailed email to follow. Ensure you come to an understanding on a clear timeline for the decision and offer a follow-up call to walk through any questions. After the offer is accepted and the candidate starts, make sure you check in with them—see what they might be doing with their time off.