Most companies view the challenges of the hiring process through their own lens. This is understandable since hiring requires internal resources, time, most obviously, money. In the early days of Arcweb Technologies, we took the same view. But as the company has grown and matured, we have found that understanding and focusing on the challenges the candidates face during the hiring process more often than not results in the right hire. And since we are actively (and I mean actively) hiring, we thought it would be useful to potential Arcwebers to learn a little bit about how we approach the hiring process.
The Interview Before the Interview
Most HR professionals will anecdotally say that by the actual in-person interview, a candidate is 60 percent of the way towards getting the job. They have applied with a resume and a cover letter, shared their experience, had a phone screen, interacted with a recruiter, emailed back and forth and more. All of these “pre-interview” interactions give depth to who the candidate really is at their core. We pay close attention to this stuff. And anything that does not feel right in this phase is usually a red flag that the fit might not be right. Maybe it is a too-casual email. Or maybe it is the way they answered the recruiter’s phone call. The point is, however, that by the time a candidate actually steps into our offices, they have likely beaten out hundreds of others because they nailed the interview before the interview.
The First Three Minutes
The first three minutes of any interview are key. Within this timeframe, both interviewer and interviewee will more or less know if the opportunity is real. The interviewer will form opinions (that likely will not change) within the first three minutes regarding fit and abilities. It is sort of like with the GMAT: the first couple of questions basically dictate the range in which your final score will end up, without much shifting. Same goes for the candidate. This is really just human nature. But it is also why we put such an emphasis on ensuring that these first three minutes will be as successful as possible. We do this not by sitting across from the candidate behind a big desk, looking at a resume, asking questions from it without making eye contact. We prime the first three minutes for success by focusing on conversation. We start the conversation anywhere in the office: sometimes in the front lounge area, sometimes at an empty pod of desks. We also pay attention to the candidate’s nonverbal cues. Where is their phone? Are they glancing at notifications during the conversation? What about posture? Hands? Did they study up on Arcweb culture to know what to wear? Do they acknowledge team members that happen to pass by but are not interviewing them? All of these things matter.
But perhaps the biggest thing we can almost always tell in the first three minutes of an interview: whether or not the candidates wants to be at Arcweb. This is a difficult idea to define on paper, but most employers will know exactly what I am talking about.
Half Day Interviews
Traditionally, a candidate will go through numerous rounds of interviewing that are often scheduled on different days or even different weeks. Not only is this done to accommodate the schedules of interviewers, but also to weed out candidates.
But back to the point about accommodating schedules. Think of what that does to the candidate. Assuming they are currently employed, they are having to take time off from work, develop (and stick to) a story to support their absence, travel, and more. Interviewee logistics are not easy! Moreover, they create unnecessary pressures that can impact the actual interview. Can a candidate provide their best, most thoughtful responses while they are worried about what they might need to tell their boss about where they have been lately? Probably not. That is why going through this exercise multiple times at multiple meetings does not make sense. Multiple one-hour interviews puts too much mental and physical pressure on someone. If you know you are going to be somewhere for half a day, you are going to be more relaxed, less stressed and ready for a dialog, not a speed date.
That is why we do all interviews for a single candidate in one half day. This respects everyone’s time, reduces pressure, allows the candidate to really get a feel for the people and the work environment and sparks genuine conversation versus the standard Q&A.
On the employer side, most interviews are conducted by a set group of individuals. This typically includes someone in the HR capacity, someone at the C-level, and the candidate’s would-be direct report. But in an industry where collaboration, skill-sharing and culture fit mean so much, we make it a requirement of all Arcweb team members that they actively participate in the hiring processes, on a rotating basis. Not only does this approach help make the interview more of a conversation, but it also surfaces the qualitative intangibles that oftentimes mean the difference between a sufficient hire and a rockstar. When an engineering candidate interviews with a designer or a project manager, we are able to gauge how they might engage and fit with an Arcweb team or client.
Interestingly, this model shares characteristics with our Discovery process on the product development side of things. In Discovery, all stakeholders of a project are welcomed into the process. Say we are helping a hospital re-imagine their patient intake processes. Rather than collaborating with just a few department heads, we are bringing all perspectives to the table: nurses, patients, IT, billing, family members, insurers, the CFO, etc. This is how we create the right solution for the specific problem.
The same goes for the interview setting. For a given role, we will bring in interviewers from the disciplines that candidate would interact with as well as those that they might not engage with on a day-to-day basis: project management, engineering, design, HR, General Counsel, etc. And the interviewers won’t always be senior to the candidate role. Pulling in non-senior employees to interview is beneficial not only to the candidate, but the interviewer as well in terms of career/workplace experience and development.
No interview process is the magic bullet, so whether your hiring or job-seeking, let us know what you think. And please check out what Arcweb jobs are currently open.
Bonus Tips: Whether it is with us or with any other company, be yourself, and no one else. Also, come to an interview with real questions, not just the standard, generic questions about things like benefits or PTO. We want inquisitive people asking thought-provoking questions; candidates who are trying to find a match that will work, not just trying to find a match. That is indicative of what we do. We build products that people love, so we need people who will love what they do. We do not want candidates who are just looking for a job. We are looking for people who want to be an Arcweber. In order to know if Arcweb is the right company for you, ask the right questions so you can know for sure. You are interviewing us as much as we’re interviewing you.