Interviewing the Interviewers

Zarathruster By Zarathruster, 7th Jun 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Business>Employment

This is an account of an interview,commissioned through Rant University, to research employer interviewing tactics and issues and how they affect applicants.

Interviewing the Interviewers

Rant University has commissioned a study of employers and their interviewing methods with the objective of finding out acceptable parameters of applicant engagement, goals and expectations of interviewers and timelines for the applicants. Our conversation was with Jane, an HR Manager at the company DontknowwhyweExist, Inc., located in Central Florida.

INTEVIEWER: So, Jane in HR, how long do you run advertisements for career positions at DontknowwhyweExist, Inc.?
EMPLOYER: Oh, typically about 4 months.

INT: Why so long?
EMP: Well, it takes a lot to find good people out there.

INT: I see...How many people do you typically interview for a position?
EMP: Depending on the position, anywhere from 150 - 200 people.

INT: Wow, that's a lot. How many of these candidates go to a second phone interview?
EMP: Probably somewhere near 50.

INT: Why is it important for HR to speak with them first?
EMP: We really want to see how they handle themselves over the phone. HR also needs to speak to as many people as possible to let people know about our company and hone our HR skills. Our companies policy for advancement is based on how many people we speak to.

INT: Regardless of whether or not you need to speak to them?
EMP: Yes. The more we talk to the better, they say.

INT: Do you offer any other insight into the position other than what is publicly posted?
EMP: (laughs) Oh no...but I get that a lot. We just read the publicly posted information back to them to make sure they understand. And, we get to write down another person spoken to for the day, to help us in our HR positions. The call also helps us tell the companies story and get people interested on a visceral level, it's great PR!

INT: Understood. So, Jane, when the employee is granted a second interview, who is it with and what is the purpose of it?
EMP: Well, that would be with the Hiring Manager. It is a phone interview and he then decides if we should meet with the candidate. This is usually two weeks after the initial phone interview. The purpose of the interview is to make sure the candidate knows what the job entails and some general questions about the candidates background and prior experience.

INT: So at this point a decision is being made to possibly hire?
EMP: Oh no, we are just getting ready to continue the process at this point.

INT: Ok...So then an actual meeting is set up?
EMP; Whoa., not so fast! (laughs)...You see the Hiring Manager is usually very busy attending trade shows, checking spreadsheets and traveling around the country to meet with other managers. After 1 -2 weeks, the Hiring Manager will email me to setup up interviews with selected candidates.

INT: So then after the second interview, it could be up to a month before the Hiring Manager actually meets with an applicant?
EMP: Yes, with their busy and important schedule, yes, that's the way it goes.

INT: I see... So now we are 6 weeks into the process and the Hiring Manager meets with an applicant. What does the 3rd interview consist of and how is it different from the second interview?
EMP: Well, we have a policy that consists of making sure the Hiring Manager can use all of the allotted budget for hiring. This means flying in to a location, staying several nights, meals, vehicle rental - everything he needs to make sure he selects the right candidate. The third interview is necessary to make sure this money gets spent and the company gets the write off.

INT: But what about the applicants?
EMP: Oh yeah...well, they are typically asked the same questions as the second interview but in a more relaxed and informal setting.

INT: Does any of the allotted budget for hiring go toward buying an applicant lunch or travel re-imbursement for the employee to drive 1-4 hours for the interview?
EMP Oh no, we wouldn't be able to write that off.

INT: Alrighty then. So the third interview is done, then what?
EMP: Well, the Hiring Manager usually has important travel to do like meeting with other managers and visiting their locations, so it's typically 2 weeks before he gets back and settled in before we decide to grant the applicant a fourth interview.

INT: So we are now 8 weeks into the process. Now what happens?
EMP: Well, assuming everything is OK with the candidate, we move him or her onto a fourth interview over the phone with our VP's - a conference call, scheduled 1- 2 weeks after the Hiring Managers decision to move forward.

INT: What kind of questions are asked on the conference call?
EMP: These questions usually revolve around suitability to the every day work the position entails and some offbeat, unexpected questions too!

INT:What do you mean, offbeat, unexpected questions?
EMP: Well, questions designed to catch the applicant off guard, like, "If you were in a life raft with three of your closest friends and had to sacrifice one because the raft was sinking which one would it be and why?" Or, "What would you say is your greatest weakness and when has it driven you to the point of despair?". You know, these upper management types are always thinking outside the box!

INT: Yes, I can see that...So now we're 10 weeks into the process, what happens next?
EMP: After that, if everything is OK with the VP's assessment, the applicant is sent for a drug screen, a background check, a psychological assessment, an aptitude test and a physical. We usually schedule that within a couple of weeks.

INT: So after 12 weeks the applicant is made an offer?
EMP: Well, sometimes but not all the time. The applicant is put into a pool of other qualified applicants for a decision to be made at the next board meeting which happens on the second Tuesday of every month.

INT: So after 14 weeks a decision is made?
EMP: In an ideal world, yes. We then notify the selected applicant of their possibility of working with us ! It is truly an exciting time for them and for us!

INT: What do you mean, 'possibility'?
EMP: Well, the applicant is extended an offer contingent upon a 90 day probationary period. During which he or she can be fired at any time, for any reason. Also, if anything negative is found out through the drug test, background check, psychological assessment, physical or aptitude test, the employee can be dismissed immediately and we will proceed to the next qualified applicant in the pool. If the contention is egregious, (lying on the background, drug screen failure, etc), we reserve the right to prosecute the applicant in a court of law and recover all monies spent during the hiring process.

INT: Wow, that's thorough to say the least. So it's 14 weeks to make a decision and then 90 days of possible termination and prosecution of all new applicants?
EMP: Well, yes, when you put it like that, it is..We have to be sure, you know, now a days you just don't know about people...

INT: Jane, what happens if an applicant is not selected to enter the qualified pool of applicants after the 14 weeks of interviews and testing?
EMP: In those cases we usually wait about a month or so to send out a rejection letter.

INT: So it's entirely possible that an employee could go through 14 weeks of interviews and testing, then have to wait another month to find out that he or she has not been chosen to be hired? Why the month long wait?
EMP: Well, we just want the employees to not give up hope. We understand that our process is lengthy and we believe that hope is a good thing to have to keep up ones spirits during trying times, so we give them that hope to hold onto. Giving people a reason to get up in the morning and maintain hope, even though it might be construed as false hope, is really the best solution. Plus, you never know, things could change in a month, we might actually re-consider and ask the employee to begin his or her probationary period.

INT: Thank you for your time, Jane. Our research will be published on the Rant University website when it is completed.
EMP: Thank you and good luck with your future research!


Employers, Employment Issues, Human Resources, Interview, Interviews

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