Recruiting for Success – Part II, The Interview Process

In the second installment of our three-part series of recruiting, we focus on interviewing. Read Recruiting for Success – Part I now.
A quick recap of the selection process covered in the first installment: determine and validate you have a need for the specific team member by reviewing capacity, budget, and qualifications; set-up and prepare for the recruiting process by determining timeframe, process participants, and job posting options; and, finally, identify and prepare for qualified candidates through screening, investigating, and scheduling.

Critical Reminders throughout the Recruiting Process:

  • The Best Candidates Get Hired Fast, So Act with Intent and Urgency
  • Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance
  • Results over Process, But ‘Own’ Your Process
  • Always Provide a Great (Brand) Experience

The Recruiting Process Flow Chart below is a reminder of the key steps.

Recruiting Process Flow Chart

The Selection Process

The Interview Process primarily involves the following:
1. Pre-Screen Qualified Candidates
2. Interview Top Candidates

Pre-Screen Qualified Candidates

The primary purpose of the pre-screen is to validate what is on the resume and if the candidate has the requisite qualifications to perform the job. It is also your next opportunity to determine if the candidate is a fit for the organization and for the candidate to decide if you and your organization are a fit for them – professionally and culturally. You are vetting this person to determine if you want to interview them.

Prepare for Call – Ensure you reviewed the candidate’s resume and highlighted and noted key areas for probing. Utilize a pre-screen interview form with key questions you ask each candidate. Establish an agenda for the call and the key areas you want to be answered. For example, if you are searching for a Property Manager, key areas to consider may include property size (number of units), property type (market rate, affordable, student housing), their distance to the location, do they need to and are they willing to live on-site, and their compensation requirements. Set yourself up in a quiet environment, free from distractions. Have all your reference materials in front of you (i.e., resume and pre-screen form).

Conduct the Call – Did the candidate call on time? Being on time is important. Thank them for being on time and making themselves available. Remind them of the time commitment of 20-30 minutes and validate they are still good with the time commitment. Doing so indicates you respect them, their time and ensures you set time expectations. Reiterate the agenda you discussed on the initial set-up call so they know what to expect during the call. As the call begins, ask the candidates what they know about you and the company to see if they did their research and what they learned. Treat the call like a conversation, allow fluid exchanges, and share time to ask and answer questions. Ensure you leave five minutes at the end of the call to answer any last ‘burning’ questions they may have and for you to provide insight into the next steps and recruiting process. You want to provide certainty in their mind related to expectations and timing. Let them know they may reach you via email if they have further questions prior to your next contact. Give them a date and time – at the latest – when they will hear from you regarding their status and potential next steps.

Determine Candidates for Full Interview – Once you have conducted at least 3-5 interviews, identify the top 1-2 candidates you want to interview.

Interview Top Candidates

online interviewingAlthough interviewing physically in person is the preferred method, COVID forced most of us to utilize video conferencing technology on a daily basis, so our ability to conduct interviews virtually in-person is fairly easy and a viable option. Conducting an in-person interview allows you to see and experience a candidate’s disposition, facial expressions, body language, professional dress, and manner, and for them to see and experience the same from you and your colleague(s).

Team or Committee interviewing top candidate

Arrange and Calendarize Interview – Establish your calendar to conduct interviews the week following the pre-screen (if not sooner). Similar to your preparation and calendarizing the pre-screen calls, set aside two-hour time periods for the interviews (morning, early afternoon, and late afternoon). Coordinate with the colleagues who will participate in the interview(s) and confirm availability. Provide your colleagues with the marked-up resume(s) and pre-screen notes so they are prepared for the interview.

Set-up Interview – Call your top candidate(s) on or before the time and date you promised them a callback. This shows you are delivering on your commitment. Remind them you promised to call them back by the specified date and time and confirm they are still interested in the opportunity. Once confirmed, let them know you are excited to inform them they are selected as a top candidate for a full, in-person interview. Again, similar to the pre-screen set-up, provide the details of the interview logistics, the agenda, and the time expectations. Certainty is important, so ensure the date, time, location (exact address or video link), parking, entrance to the building, and who will participate is communicated. Follow-up the conversation with an email detailing the interview arrangements.

Prepare for Interview – The best indicator of future performance is past performance, so establishing interview questions based on actual, relevant experiences specific to behaviors and characteristics you want is critical. We utilize a behavioral interview format with a set of questions for each behavior or characteristic. Establish your unique set of questions specific to the job – Regional Manager, Property Manager, Maintenance Supervisor – and make it standard and replicable for consistency purposes. You will most likely not need to or get through all the questions, so choose the top questions important to you and your colleagues based on the pre-screen and resume – identify what you want to know about the candidate to determine they are the right fit. If a colleague or colleagues participate, then discuss and plan who will ask what questions and choose time allotments for each interviewer.

Conduct Interview – Prepare the room/location with any materials necessary (i.e., business card, brochures) and ensure it is a quiet, professional setting without distractions. Welcome the candidate upon arrival – if it is a physical meeting, offer them a drink and escort them to the interview room. The following is a good format for conducting an interview for corporate and mid-to-senior level property management staff:

• Introduction (5-10 minutes): make them feel welcome and comfortable; build rapport and relationship through casual conversation.
• Agenda (2-3 minutes): reiterate the agenda, timing, participants, purpose, and objective(s) you described on the phone and in the email invite, and confirm they agree.
• Interview (30-45 minutes, per interviewer): Explain to the candidate the behavioral interview format and let them know it is based on examples of past experiences. The ideal candidate response is specific and example-based, not based on generalities. An easy way of framing a response is using the STAR methodology…Situation, Task, Action(s), and Result(s).
• Q&A (15-20 minutes): interviewing is a ‘two-way street,’ so make sure you dedicate sufficient time to answer the candidate’s questions. Pay attention to the types of questions they ask. Are they prepared? Did they come with a list of questions? Questions based on company goals, vision, values, and strategy are good indicators they are looking for a career. Questions primarily based on pay and benefits, work hours, and PTO are less favorable and indicate they are just looking for a job.
• Next Steps and Wrap-Up (5-10 minutes): gauge their interest in the opportunity; inquire about other opportunities they are considering and stage of the related process(es); is this an opportunity they would accept if offered? Thank them for their time and availability, describe the remaining steps to the process and expectations and timing. Escort them out and ensure they know how to depart the facility, if applicable.

Determine Top Candidate(s) – Based on the interview(s), decide if you identified the right person for the position. If you had a colleague or colleagues participate, then convene after the interview and evaluate the candidate, share thoughts and feelings, and determine if you want to make an offer or invite the candidate for a final interview so others may meet the candidate.

Interviewing and RecruitingConduct Final Interview – 2nd interviews primarily focus on getting additional questions answered and/or clarification on uncertainties or ensuring other team members who will regularly interact with the new hire have the opportunity to interview and determine fit as well. A similar interview process follows for the 2nd interview – arranging, preparing, and conducting the interview.

You are the brand champion of your organization, so speak and act with a smile on your face, ask probing questions, listen 70% of the time, take good notes, build a relationship, and have fun.