Like most challenges in business, tackling the complex process of filling an executive-level position can be made much simpler with some forethought and preparation. It’s helpful to establish a thorough interview process template that can be followed any time a position needs to be filled. This template should include everything from how candidates will be recruited to how to define job responsibilities to how to collect feedback from interview candidates. To help in this process, check out the list below of best practices for conducting executive interviews.
Design an Interview Process Template
To keep your interview process efficient and smooth, it’s useful to design an interview process template to follow for each candidate. The first piece of the template should be a thoroughly-defined description of exactly what your company needs in a candidate for this position. Include descriptions like:
- What hard and soft skills should the candidate possess
- How much work and/or industry experience the candidate should have
- Any important personality traits the candidate should or should not have in order to fit in with the company culture
Next, outline each step of the process. Include the people who will be involved at every stage, the purpose of each interview session and what criteria will be used to determine the strength of the candidate. These criteria should include the basic requirements a candidate needs to have and a detailed list of the responsibilities of the particular role for which you are hiring.
The final piece of the template should be an outline of the actual interview process. Determine your plan for tackling each stage by asking questions, such as:
- Will you use a recruiting firm to find candidates?
- Will you need an internal search committee?
- Who will be the first in the company to interview the candidate?
- Will you require a skills test? If so, what will this test entail?
- How will you determine if the candidate is a good cultural fit for the company?
- How will you follow up with the candidate after the interview if they are chosen? What about if they are not selected?
After you’ve established your interview process template, it’s a good idea to make a list of questions you and your team will ask to help determine whether or not the candidates are a good fit for the role and the company. While many questions will need to be tailored to the actual position, you should have a list of evergreen questions that would be appropriate to ask any executive interview candidate to help determine professional and cultural fit. Some examples include:
- What is the greatest accomplishment of your career? This question is a classic for a reason. It helps provide you with insight into what the candidate is capable of and what he or she values most as a professional.
- If you could change anything in your past, what would that be? This question gives you insight into a candidate’s overall attitude and character. It will also help to reveal if they are able to recognize and admit to their mistakes and then learn from them.
- What skills are you lacking? This gives insight into a candidate’s self-awareness and willingness to work hard to improve both professionally and personally.
- What will your team learn from you? This question will highlight a candidate’s leadership qualities and coaching abilities.
- Why do you want to work here? This question gives you a chance to learn how much time the candidate put into researching and learning about your company.
- Why should we hire you? This is a great question to ask at the end of an interview. It gives the candidate a chance to recap everything you’ve discussed, including their qualifications, experience, special skills and why they believe they are the best fit for the position.
Collect Post-Interview Feedback
One important piece of the interview process that most companies fail to do is to collect post-interview feedback. This can provide crucial insight into the effectiveness of your interview process as well as help you gauge whether or not a candidate is likely to accept an offer. Two very simple ways to collect post-interview feedback are:
- Send out an email survey to the candidate asking them to rate the experience after the interview is finished. The survey should include specific questions about the flow of the process from application to scheduling the interview to the actual interview itself. Make sure the survey is generic enough that it will make sense for all candidates, but not so broad that it won’t provide you with solid, useful information.
- Gather Net Promoter Score insights. This can be done either through a text message or email to the candidate by simply asking how likely he or she would be to recommend the company to a friend or family member. This can help determine if the candidate had a positive experience and would be willing to accept an offer or if they had a poor experience and would not accept an offer. After you’ve collected this information, it’s important to analyze the data and determine what areas of your interview process can be tweaked to make it more efficient and to provide a better overall experience for your potential candidates.
Remember, proper preparation is key to a smooth and headache-free executive interview process. Take the time to design a template and establish procedures so that you and your team will know exactly what to do the next time an executive – or any level – position needs to be filled.