20 Oct 2015

The importance of 2nd Interviews...

I spoke to a candidate this month who had rejected a role, post interview, based on the fact that she couldn't see herself  in the working environment of a small agency based in Manchester (it's a well established agency and is purposefully small but perfectly formed).  The candidate had previously worked in a much bigger agency and one of their frustrations had been that their responsibilities and scope of that particular role had been limited.    So I advised that perhaps it would be a good idea to interview at several different agencies to identify whether a smaller agency could offer some new challenges (lots of people work in hybrid roles, you have to all muck in together and wear different hats etc).

This particular agency was very interested in the candidate. They interviewed well and the client was poised to offer the job.  However, when collecting feedback from the candidate, they commented that there was no-one in the office, it was very quiet, there was no-one in reception and on a daily basis, that would be a difficult environment to work in.  They had thought the actual role sounded very interesting and the agency was doing some innovative and creative work - very responsive to the evolving digital world and there were some exciting clients to work on too.

Part of the role of the recruiter is to manage and challenge expectations of both the candidate and the client.  Of course, I said to the candidate, the difference in working environment is relative to your last agency which was one of the biggest in Manchester - clearly there will be differences. However, perhaps you caught them on a day when there were many client meetings, people on holiday, perhaps there were people in the office but they had their heads down working, perhaps the receptionist had nipped out to the Post Office - there are a multitude of reasons for it being a little quiet.

The optimal course of action was to recommend a second interview to go back to the agency and meet the team, to interview on a different day - and a different time of day and to chat to some of the people they'd be working with on a daily basis.  This is an award winning agency and generally, happy and empowered employees love to talk to potential future employees as they treat it as a close knit team environment - it's very motivating for them to be included in the recruitment process as they genuinely feel that their opinion matters and therefore are a trusted and important member of the agency team.

To cut a long story short....The candidate loved the agency and is now keeping their fingers crossed for an offer.  Remember that the role had always been the perfect role, they were just questioning the environment.  I'm finding this more frequently now that employers are offering flexibility on out of hours interviewing. Whilst it's more convenient for candidates, it doesn't always allow the agency to come across as it actually is on a daily basis.  I recommend that at least one interview is held during work hours and wherever possible, potential employees have the opportunity to meet the team and get a feel for who they'll be working alongside.

Clearly if the role hadn't been attractive and the environment didn't fit, then I doubt the candidate would have made it to second round full stop.  However, if there are just little niggles or reservations that you think can be ironed out, it's worth returning for a second interview (if invited...).  I truly believe that given you spend so much of your life at work, it's really important to tick as many boxes as you can - and that's what the interview process is all about.   A second interview is a sanity check and the opportunity to ask the questions you didn't ask at first interview and to really visualise yourself working there every day.  

I've not done any proper quantitative research on this, however, typically, if employees are hired on a one interview basis.....they don't tend to stay in role as long as people who have had a more robust interview process.  Just something to consider when looking at recruitment costs...