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A Better Way to Interview: Leveraging Psychometrics to Guide Your Virtual Interviews

Interview Guide

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People are your power source. Plug one into the wrong role, and that once powerful electric source could short.


Common sense dictates that a company’s number one resource is its people. It should be a top priority to take extra care in the talent acquisition process, and yet more than 60 percent of job seekers report a negative candidate experience with potential employers.


It’s easy enough to fall into the temptation of listing external factors to justify hiring issues. However, shortages in overall candidate experience, the current state of market affairs, or lacking awareness in the strengths and weaknesses of the candidate pool are not the only issues to blame for failing to attract the right talent. Having poorly planned talent strategies and even superficial interviewing processes can compound the issue and lead to wasted time and effort trying to force-fit a person into a position.


Not taking enough time or leveraging the right interview tools to find the kind of talent you need generates a negative domino effect. The typical employer will interview only 6-10 candidates for a job, and candidates will go through about 3 rounds of interviews before receiving an offer. How can you be sure they’re the right fit? Not knowing this answer can be costly. Firms such as PwC estimate a loss valued between $5,000 and $6,000 for each employee resignation — while each person that jumps ship also produces roughly a 30% drop in productivity when replaced by someone who does not perform as expected.


For those charged with recruiting and acquiring, these figures should be alarming — especially considering that many companies do not alter their strategies or discipline themselves for success in attracting and retaining key personnel. On top of losing thousands of dollars as well as top talent, you also have to consider the brand hits. Nearly 3 out of 4 job seekers report sharing their negative candidate experiences online. 


Job seekers begin to form an opinion about a company, as an employer AND as a business, the very moment they begin the application process. One negative candidate experience creates a ripple effect as applicants vocalize their dissatisfaction with how they were treated and that can discourage others from applying. Millennials, who represent three-fourths of active job seekers, are especially quick to share their experiences online and pay particularly close attention to reviews from their peers.


Having to retrain new individuals, find the next best fill for the role, redistribute their work among others, or forcing existing employees to cope in an unstable work environment can further exacerbate ongoing employee resignations and costly turnover. When you consider that 75% of employers use standard, cookie-cutter behavioral interview questions to assess skills (CareerBuilder, 2019) and that nearly all organizations are conducting virtual interviews during which they never actually meet candidates face-to-face, the resume can no longer serve as a prime predictor for job success. Taken together, the time and monetary costs of mis-aligned hires are just too high.


In this post, we’ll share why a psychometric-based interview guide can be a game changing tool in the talent professionals’ toolbelt — helping you turn often subjective, one-size fits all interviewing processes into effective, efficient processes that will lead to data-informed hiring recommendations and, more importantly, candidates with the highest likelihood of success for your role. So let’s start with the basics.


The Basics: Good Interviewing Starts with a Plan

You already know a good hiring plan will help your company streamline the process of finding and hiring the employee that best suits your organization’s needs. A good interview plan maps out each stage of the hiring process. First, identify the major milestones for before, during, and after your interviews. You can then create a hiring workflow to help you streamline the process to fit the job and keep your recruitment process on track.


Here are some things to consider when interview planning:

  • What does the job involve?

  • What are the selection criteria?

  • How will you advertise the job?

  • How will you receive applications?

  • How will you identify who to interview?

  • When and where will you hold the interviews?

  • Who will conduct the interviews?

  • How will you evaluate the interviews and how long will it take?

  • What happens after the interview?

  • How will you make the job offer?


The more you plan ahead, the smoother and more effective your recruitment process will be. Three key advantages to interview planning include: efficiency, process consistency, good candidate experience.


More Effective & Efficient Virtual Hiring Processes

You need a process that is efficient. This means both a streamlined hiring process and a process that leads more quickly to the right employee for the job. By clearly identifying the key job criteria in advance, interview planning helps to eliminate unnecessary steps and ensure that each stage of the process matches your business needs.


We all know the pandemic has pushed businesses to implement more large-scale virtual recruiting and interviewing efforts — which has contributed to organizational efficiencies. In fact, this Gartner poll from last year found that 85% of organizations are utilizing new technology to find, interview, and onboard employees. 


According to SHRM, virtual career fairs grew during the pandemic due to travel restrictions, regulations on large gatherings, and general uneasiness due to the virus. The average virtual event participation rate increased from 50% to 90% since the pandemic, and experts predict that 80% of recruiting will remain virtual for the foreseeable future


Those companies that have leveraged technology to support this vital process have been able to save time and costs, it stands to become the new standard for recruiting leaders and candidates even after social distancing guidelines are lifted. The next step? 


The most successful organizations will provide candidates with the same level of information and feeling of connection with the organization as they would have with an in-person interview or onboarding experience. HR should continue to partner with recruiting leaders (sometimes one in the same) to ensure they can successfully utilize recruiting technology to create a positive candidate experience. 


Consistency is King

Like they say, you can’t compare apples to oranges, but when you ask the exact same questions to every candidate, are you really getting at what you need to know about this particular candidate? The answer is no, but as long as you use the same approach and method, you’ll be able to score them in the same way — reducing the risk of bias in the interview process. More about this later! 


A Good Candidate Experience

Remember an interview process works two ways. Just as you are assessing candidates, they are assessing your company to determine whether it is a good place to work. With effective interview planning, you can provide a favorable impression by ensuring that you assess applications, schedule interviews, make your decisions, and provide updates in a timely manner. You don’t want to miss out on good candidates because you are disorganized and they’ve already chosen a different job by the time you are ready to make an offer. 


A good applicant experience can also have positive long-term effects for organizations regardless of whether the candidate was actually hired. Fifty-six percent of applicants who were happy with the way they were treated by a potential employer when applying for a job said they would consider seeking employment with the company again, and 37 percent said they would tell others to do the same. 


Further, part of what can make an experience even more exceptional is being able to ask them the right kind of questions, which leads to the next step. Once you have your interview planning complete, you should consider leveraging interview question guides.


Asking the right questions: What’s an Interview Guide

An effective interview is one that helps you identify the best person for the job. An interview guide is a document that enables organizations to structure the way they conduct their candidate interviews. It helps interviewers know what to ask and in what order and it ensures a candidate experience that is consistent for all applicants. 


The content of your interview guide will differ depending on, among other things, the role you’re hiring for, the interview method you decide to use, and your specific organizational requirements. By planning ahead, you know what criteria need to be met, allowing you to focus on questions that are relevant and that allow you to properly assess these criteria. 


In her article, Hiring the Best People with a Values-Based Interview Strategy, Ann Rhoades advocates for a values-based hiring process — with an interview process that includes crafting meaningful interview questions tied to core values. The purpose is to increase the effectiveness of the interviewing process, thereby saving time and money for the company. It is said that traditional interviews lead to the selection of the best candidate 19 percent of the time and with behavioral and values-based interviews, you can up that figure to 75 percent of the time.


The idea is to find candidates who can describe past behavior and achievements that match up with the values of your company — and a psychometric-based interview guide takes it a step farther and takes into account a candidate’s behaviors, values, and ideal work energizers so you have the most insight possible to make the right decision.


Using an interview guide during the hiring process has several benefits that align to and reinforce solid interview plans:


A structured process. When all interviewers follow the same steps in the same order this creates structure. This, in turn, reduces the chances of people forgetting to ask candidates certain questions or give them certain information.  


Candidate experience. Using an interview guide ensures all candidates get the same experience. Of course, not all interviewers are the same so there will always be differences in experiences, but at least you can control the overall process.


Equal assessment. When you use the same interview method, you can also use the same scoring to assess them. This reduces the risk of bias in the interview process. While the exact content of the interview guide will differ per organization and role, the following elements form a solid foundation — especially if you pay particular attention to the kind of questions you ask.


While the exact content of the interview guide will differ per organization and role, the following elements form a solid foundation — especially if you pay particular attention to the kind of questions you ask.


Key Elements of the Interview Guide

1. Invitation & Briefing 

Make sure all candidates who make it into the interview round get the same invitation including a briefing of what to expect from the interview: how many people they’ll talk to, how long the interview will last, whether or not they need to prepare something beforehand, what documents they need to bring are just some examples of what to include.


2. Setting the Stage

This is a practical issue. Where do you want to interview people? Who will be interviewing the candidates? If it’s a video interview (and nowadays it probably is!), what’s the best place to make the call? Here too, it’s good to have the same setting for each candidate so that everybody gets the same experience. Include the ‘setting’ requirements, both online and offline, in your interview guide.


3. Welcome

Surely there are things you want to absolutely mention when welcoming candidates. They may be about the company, its history, the office, the job, you name it. It’s one of your first face-to-face (via video) chances to instill a sense of confidence around your employer brand and culture.


4. Questions / Structure

In a structured interview, a common set of questions is often used. This provides the interviewer with a more uniform method of recording information and standardizing the rating of the candidate’s qualifications. It also enables the interviewer to accurately compare applicants’ levels of experience and to make the best decision.


A common method used in interviews is the STAR method. This method offers a structured way to retrieve information from the candidate. STAR stands for:


  • Situation. Ask the candidate to describe the situation that they were in. 

  • Task. What goal was the candidate working towards?

  • Action. Ask the candidate to describe in detail what actions they took to make the best of the situation and to complete their task. 

  • Result. Ask the candidate to describe the outcome of the action and what they learned. 


Asking all of your candidates a question using this method allows you to easily compare the depth of experience each has in key competencies. The next step in preparing the right kind of questions is being able to dig more deeply into potential gaps but also alignments between your candidates and what role calls for.


Psychometric-based Questions

When you infuse psychometric assessment into your interview questions, you’ll be able to uncover a candidate’s behavioral strengths and weaknesses as well as their ability to adjust to situations at work. You’ll identify their key motivators or values, as well as uncover the kinds of work that energize them. The first step is to set a target or ideal candidate profile for the role. Once you have that, you can assess your candidates against that profile.


“The kinds of questions you then choose to ask your candidates matters. Interviews alone are notoriously poor at predicting culture add or role success. To reduce subjective bias during the interview process, Humantelligence draws from a candidate’s own behaviors, motivators, and work energizers — their talent profile — to highlight the most important gaps and alignments when compared with your ideal candidate,” says Kerry Leidich, Co-founder of Humantelligence.


“From there, we’ll generate focused questions to ask, along with interpretation guidelines, so you can quickly gain a deeper understanding of how a candidate will contribute to the team’s culture and perform in the role. We all know that great talent isn’t available for long. By using the right psychometrics in your interview process, you can both increase the confidence of your hiring recommendations and accelerate your time-to-hire.”


Keep in mind that these are measures of preferences and tendencies (not skills or capabilities), but they’re oftentimes more telling. Why? 


As Humantelligence CEO and executive search consultant and professional recruiter Juan Betancourt shares, “Resumes, LinkedIn, and educational backgrounds only tell some of the story. Besides being self reported, they are limited to only showing past experiences — whereas psychometrics are concerned with psychological measurement, and can more easily reveal a person’s fuller potential when it comes to situational behavior, actions, results, communication, and motivations — now and in the future.”


“A candidate’s psychometric profile can give you a multi-dimensional snapshot of a person, rather than a bulleted list of facts. It includes comprehensive data on a candidate’s critical behaviors, motivators, and work styles, as well as sought-after skills like communication, creativity and adaptability. When you assess this kind of emotional intelligence right alongside cognitive abilities, you’ll also find yourself removing unconscious biases and engaging in a more inclusive approach to evaluating candidates — all of which can help you predict greater success in the role. In using this approach personally, I’ve helped successfully place hundreds of candidates into roles.”


By leveraging psychometrics to guide your interviews, you’re making the most data-informed choice for your role. It’s why organizations that do infuse psychometrics into their recruiting and hiring process are able to: 


  • Consistently evaluate candidate attributes

  • Automate competency, question, and evaluation criteria

  • Quickly begin interviewing and evaluating candidates against ideal profiles

  • Reduce unconscious bias & create fairer hiring outcomes

  • Improve candidate diversity with an equitable interview experience


You can divide interview questions into several categories such as job-fit and organization-fit. The former involves questions that aim to determine how compatible a candidate is with the requirements of the job they apply for, while the latter involves questions regarding a person’s compatibility with the organization (its culture). The weight of each category will vary depending on your organizational requirements but figuring out these scores should be much easier now when you leverage technology that’s based on psychometrics. 


5. Candidate questions 

After your question guide, your broader interview guide should make space for candidate questions. Usually, towards the end of the interview, the interviewer asks the applicant if they have any questions, about the job, the company, the team. Including this portion not only gives your candidate a voice in the process, but the kind of questions people ask will tell you a lot about their level of experience and their interest in working for your organization. 


6. Wrap-up

During wrap up, make sure to share the next steps with your candidate: when will they know whether or not they made it to the next stage of the selection process, what is the next stage, and how will they hear from you (by email, phone, etc.). 


Let them know who they can contact and how if they have any questions after they the first interview. Make sure all of this is included in your broader interview guide — but remember, the most important element here is the actual follow through.  A survey by Indeed of 500 job seekers and 500 employers revealed that ghosting appeared to be on the rise amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The job search site found that since February 1, 2020, 77 percent of job seekers said they’ve been ghosted by a prospective employer, and 10% were still ghosted after a verbal job offer was presented to them. 


7. Scoring 

Okay, the interviews are over. The next steps have been communicated. Time to rate your candidates. How well did they score on each of the questions? What did you learn from questions focused on potential gaps? Did they shed more light on what you initially thought were too wide of gaps? Or did they validate potential shortcomings and confirm strengths? You should assess right away — even during the interview — so your applicant’s answers are still fresh in your memory.


You’re happy. The candidate is happy. The organization is happy. 

When you couple interview planning processes with psychometric interview question guides integrated within an AI-powered recruitment platform, like Humantelligence, you’ll be able to compare and measure candidates more easily, eliminate subjectivity and bias, while reducing time-to-hire — enabling a consistent, structured approach to executing your hiring plans. You can be confident that you’re delivering qualified candidates who have a stronger likelihood of long-term success and who are a value-add to the culture and position — and you can do it all without ever leaving your applicant tracking system.


More importantly, how a company treats job candidates (the ones hired and the ones rejected) broadcasts a clear message about its values. As the boundaries between employer and company brand continue to blur, the importance of the candidate experience to a company’s overall success will magnify. You as a strategic advisor in the sourcing, hiring, or on-boarding of new talent play a key role in making those experiences as personalized and positive as possible — and your approach to interviewing is a critical component. 


If you’d like to learn more about how a data-informed approach to recruiting and hiring can help you save time and deliver higher quality talent aligned to your organization’s retention goals, sign up for a free consultation with us!

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