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The most successful organizations periodically audit and amend their business procedures for both compliance and effectiveness. By doing so, firms continuously improve their operations and retain a competitive edge. However, these audits often overlook one critical area: the interview and hiring process.

You might be thinking that your company’s interview and hiring process is perfectly fine -- that if it’s not broke, why fix it? However, best practices have changed over the years. Since your employees are the lifeblood of your organization, it’s a good idea to review what your hiring teams are doing -- and make any needed adjustments.

Let’s start by exploring the potential pitfalls of the traditional interview.

3 Ways the Traditional Interview Falls Short

1. Ineffective Questions

Interviews are a crucial component of the hiring process. However, if they’re not conducted strategically, they’re little more than a rehash of the candidate’s resume, with a few tired, ineffective questions peppered in. Questions like “what’s your greatest strength?” or “what’s your greatest weakness?” result in an answer that the candidate thinks you want to hear, yielding no useful insight into their projected performance.

Research shows that the best interview questions reveal how a prospective hire would handle a given situation based on how they’ve approached similar scenarios in the past. Implementing the behavioral interviewing technique, you ask the interviewee to recount specific stories from their work experience. Then, what they say reveals a lot about their personality and soft skills.

Some examples of behavioral-based interview questions include:

2. Inconsistent Questioning

To compare candidates effectively and fairly, you must put all of them through an identical interview and hiring process. That means interviewers need to ask each person the same questions in the initial interview and score their responses according to a predetermined standard. A scoring rubric can help interviewers provide a consistent and fair interview experience for all job candidates. 

Further reading: Need a little help refining your interview process? Check out our Resources Page for interview guides, interview question ideas, and more.

3. Interviewer Fatigue and Bias

Depending on your firm’s procedures, your interview process may be long and tedious, requiring extensive candidate research and interaction. So, even though hiring the right people is a worthwhile pursuit, it can be draining. And, when you’re fatigued, you’re not an effective interviewer. You may rush through interviews, fail to process what candidates tell you, and make hasty hiring decisions -- a disservice to the candidates and your company.

You’re biased. We all are. Your personal experience and upbringing have cultivated long-standing beliefs about people. Unfortunately, your biases could cause you to hire -- or decline -- a candidate based on a hunch. The key is recognizing this fact and actively nipping those biases in the bud when they creep in.

How Behavioral Assessments Improve the Hiring Process

So, how do you reduce fatigue, mitigate bias, and truly know your candidates so you can make informed fair hiring decisions? That’s where a behavioral assessment comes in. The assessment takes an inventory of each candidate’s traits, compares it to your current high performers' benchmark data, and translates the findings into useful insight about the candidate’s predicted performance. If administered at the beginning of the hiring process, a behavioral assessment can help you:

How Omnia Can Help

Omnia offers an easy-to-implement behavioral assessment so you can get started right away. Results are instant, digestible, and actionable. If you want even more insight, our team can provide you with an in-depth analysis of your assessment data. Remember: we’re here to help you improve your hiring and interview process so that your company continues to thrive!

Final Thoughts

If you haven’t looked at your hiring or interview process in a while, chances are it could use some help. When implemented together, behavioral interviewing techniques and behavioral assessments provide you with more reliable and valid information than the standard interview. And behavioral assessments reduce interviewer bias and fatigue. That means your hiring and interview process is more efficient, fairer and results in better quality hire for your organization. Talk about a win-win-win!

As more and more organizations shift to using a remote workforce, the traditional in-person interview is also shifting into a virtual context. Remote interviews may not seem like they’re all that different from a physical interview. Still, they introduce many factors that can make them more difficult to manage if a company doesn’t put a lot of thought into implementing them. 

Fortunately, several strategies are easy to put in place and will make remote interviews more likely to select the ideal candidate.

5 Strategies for Conducting Successful Remote Interviews

1. Use Pre-Employment Assessments

One valuable step to include in any remote interview process is leveraging tools to narrow down the candidate pool to qualified and suitable applicants. Pre-employment assessments are instrumental in this regard because they can help organizations screen out candidates who lack the competencies necessary for the position. Cognitive testing measures a candidate’s ability to think abstractly, comprehend new ideas, and solve problems, which is often critical to success in any new position. Behavioral assessments allow interviewers to determine which candidates are likely to be a good long-term fit for an organization. These assessments measure a candidate’s core traits and intrinsic motivators. Hiring managers gain valuable insight into fit for the job and how to effectively manage and motivate each employee once they are on board.

The results of these tests can be used together as part of the initial decision-making process. For example, if someone possesses all the hard skills necessary for success in the role but exhibits behavior that suggests they will quickly be looking for another job, it might make sense to prioritize other candidates. These assessments are easy to implement remotely and can be used as a screening tool to determine who moves on to more time-intensive interviews.

2. Select the Right Communication Tools

When an organization commits to remote interviews, it needs to make sure it can support that process. Many video conferencing platforms are available to choose from, but it’s a good idea for the company to choose one and stick with it. This helps to avoid any implementation problems and ensures that everyone involved in the interview process knows how to use the technology.

Some organizations may get by with a phone call or straightforward video conferencing software, but some positions may require additional features. For example, a candidate for a programming job may need access to developmental tools to complete a sample project as part of the interview process. It’s important to understand what tools will be needed ahead of time so that the interview process can be designed around the organization’s technology.

3. Communicate Details to the Candidate

Going through the interview process is stressful, but the stress can be even greater when the applicant must use unfamiliar or complicated technology. Organizations need to be clear when providing interview details. If the applicant has to download a special application to conduct the interview or be in a specific location (such as a quiet room rather than a bustling cafe), that information must be communicated early and clearly in the interview process.

If assessments need to be completed before a live remote interview, the interviewer must provide reasonable deadlines to ensure that testing is completed in time for them to evaluate the results. They should also provide a resource list if video conferencing software is unfamiliar or complicated to launch. For example, many companies use Zoom, which is simple to set up and use, while Skype is robust but requires all users to have an account and software downloaded. This ensures that any potential problems are sorted out before the interview begins and avoids losing precious time to troubleshoot technical issues. 

4. Involve the Right People

Having more people involved in the hiring process generally leads to better outcomes. According to a UK-based Behavioural Insights Team study, having more than one person involved in evaluating a candidate is far more likely to result in a good hire. In cases where applicants are very similarly qualified and have few “easy” differentiators, just involving two people in the interview process increases the likelihood of making the best choice by almost ten percent. Having four people involved improves the odds by almost twenty percent. 

That’s because having different perspectives involved can reduce the chance of bias and raise concerns that a single person might overlook. However, the challenge of remote interviews is determining when having more people involved will make communication difficult. Hosting a video conferencing meeting with a large group increases the likelihood of interruptions and can make it difficult for the candidate to know who to focus on. When possible, the remote interview process should only involve the core team that will make the final decision. Having an agenda and communicating who speaks when is also helpful. 

5. Use a Structured Approach

The same soft skills required in in-person interviews are necessary for remote interviews. It’s important to have a system in place to give the interview structure. That could include assigning specific questions to different interviewers or implementing a system for recognizing people who want to speak (such as a raised hand icon). The person leading the interview needs to have a very organized approach to ensure the conversation runs smoothly.

As with a live interview, it’s imperative to plan. Rather than relying on off-the-cuff Q&A, a structured interview focuses on specific areas and ensures that the interviewer gets the candidate's information. 90% of all questions asked during an interview should be related to the position or the company. Having behavioral assessment data can be especially helpful in pre-planning because the interviewer can ask questions better to evaluate the organization’s cultural fit.

Conduct Better Remote Interviews with Omnia Assessments

In addition to distilling the applicants' pool to the most qualified and best fit before the interview, assessment data helps guide the interview process. It saves time and resources but cutting out unnecessary questions and identifying the top candidates. Whether it’s measuring an applicant’s overall mental aptitude with cognitive testing or getting a better picture of their personality with behavioral testing, Omnia assessments can help organizations improve their interview techniques and make better overall hiring decisions.

To learn more about incorporating our scientifically validated assessments into your remote interviews, contact our team today.

With an estimated 2.65 billion people using social media worldwide in 2018, the odds are good that anyone applying for a position at your organization has at least one social media profile. In fact, they probably have more than one, since the average person today has over eight accounts, more than double the average number in 2013. Given those numbers, it’s no surprise that so many organizations are turning to social media screening as a way to learn more about potential job candidates.

What is Social Media Screening?

Social media screening is a process by which employers view and evaluate information posted on a candidate’s social media profiles to determine their suitability for a position. As one might expect, the term “suitability” is doing some heavy lifting in this situation. It could mean assessing whether or not someone has a demonstrated history of using the skills that are essential to the job function in question. On the other hand, it could also mean identifying a pattern of risky or otherwise problematic behavior that could create problems for an organization that hires them.

According to a 2018 CareerBuilder study, almost three-quarters of employers use social media as a screening mechanism for new hires. Perhaps more importantly, 43 percent of them are also using it to monitor their current employees. Not every company is approaching screening in quite the same way, sometimes focusing narrowly on the candidate themselves and sometimes expanding out to look at broader aspects of their online presence (such as what other people have to say about them).

How Can You Use Social Media Screening in Your Hiring Process?

The idea of background screening is nothing new, of course. Companies have been conducting background and reference checks on candidates for quite some time, and there are many services available that make this process easier to conduct. There are cost and time considerations to background research, usually carried out by a third-party vendor. On the other hand, social media screening is much easier to conduct because the candidate’s information is publicly available on the internet.

A quick scan of a candidate’s LinkedIn or Facebook page will usually be sufficient to establish whether they possess the background and qualifications they claimed to possess on their application or resume. It can also provide a good idea of how the candidate conducts themselves publicly. Are they professional and respectful of others? Do they communicate effectively? Do they have a wide range of interests?

Although social media often blurs the line between a person’s private and professional life, many companies are understandably concerned that the same information will be available to their clients and customers. If a candidate is constantly posting about engaging in problematic (or even illegal) behavior or routinely sounding off about their employers or customers, most organizations will be understandably concerned about the implications of making that person a representative of their brand.

Problems with Social Media Screening

This ready availability of information creates some problems, however. Modern HR departments have carefully designed the hiring and candidate evaluation process to minimize the potential for discrimination and bias. There are many questions (especially where race and gender are concerned) companies are not even legally permitted to ask candidates. Organizations that fail to follow these strict guidelines open themselves up to serious liability problems.

Since the candidate freely provides social media information, employers sometimes think they can bypass these restrictions. They may not be able to ask about a candidate’s age, marital status, or sexual orientation. Still, a quick scan of their Facebook profile may provide these answers (assuming the profile is truthful, which is a wholly separate issue). Unfortunately, simply knowing that information could expose the company to an accusation of hiring discrimination should they decide not to hire the candidate.

Even worse, social media screening can allow unconscious biases to influence hiring decisions. For instance, if a hiring manager learns that the candidate shares their interests, follows the same celebrities, or uses the same products, they could be unfairly predisposed to favoring them over other applicants. While there’s always a danger of this information finding its way into the interview process, it’s especially damaging when bias takes root during the initial screening before the applicant even has an opportunity to interview.

And that’s to say nothing of candidates who lack a social media presence, to begin with. Eliminating a qualified applicant because they don’t have an Instagram profile, for instance, is hardly a sophisticated method of identifying a best-fit candidate.

The Do's and Don'ts of Leveraging Social Media Screening in Your Hiring Process

If your organization will use social media screening as part of its hiring process, it’s critical to have a few rules in place before doing so.

DO focus on professional details.

Depending on the social media platforms you’re looking at, there could be a strong temptation to plunge into the candidate’s personal life to learn everything about them. Unfortunately, digging for these details will result in far more trouble (potentially of the legal variety) than it’s worth. Looking for information about the candidate’s work experience and job performance can support details gathered throughout the interview and assessment process, which is usually far more valuable than knowing how someone likes to spend their free time on the weekends.

DON’T use it as the first step in screening.

Turning to social media as the first way to trim down the list of candidates is a bad place to start. First of all, it’s not based on any hard data or objective assessment methodology. Furthermore, unless the position you’re hiring for is focused on social media usage, there’s no reason to think there’s any correlation between a person’s social media profile and their ability to do the job in question. While some people are true “digital natives” who spend a lot of time cultivating their social media presence, others put little to no thought into their social media profiles. Eliminating people on this basis before the hiring process even starts is guaranteed to cost you some of your most capable candidates.

DO keep things in perspective.

Social media profiles are not necessarily an accurate depiction of reality. They are a carefully cultivated public image that someone has chosen to present to the world. It’s not uncommon for people to look far more interesting, capable, and engaging on social media than they are in their everyday lives. They may not be lying about details (although that’s always possible), but always remember that nothing you see should be taken for granted without corroborating evidence of some kind.

DON’T use just one platform.

If you’re going to look at a candidate’s social media presence, you should consider evaluating several different channels. Each platform offers a different experience and caters to different needs. A LinkedIn profile, for instance, is usually going to be more professional than a Snapchat account. Some people even cultivate very different online identities across platforms. A person with a perfectly boring Facebook profile might prove to be a confrontational firebrand on Twitter. If you’ve decided you want to use social media screening, you might as well be thorough in assembling a comprehensive picture.

DO familiarize yourself with the law.

Falling afoul of anti-discrimination laws at the state and federal level can put your company in an embarrassing and expensive situation. Ensure you understand what information you are not permitted to request from candidates and put controls in place to ensure your social media screening doesn’t circumvent those laws. It may be helpful if the screening is conducted by someone who has no involvement in the actual hiring process to keep the focus on specific, work-related details and reduce the potential for bias.

DON’T let it be the deciding factor.

Relying on social media screening to make your final hiring decisions is a recipe for disaster. While there’s nothing wrong with using it to create a more nuanced and complex view of a candidate, social media is not reliable enough as a hiring tool to justify using it for selection purposes. If something about a candidate’s profile strikes you as disqualifying even though nothing else in the hiring process supports that impression, you’re either making too much out of nothing, or there’s a serious flaw in the way you’re assessing candidates. And if it’s the latter case, you’ve got bigger problems on your hands than just a social media screening issue.

Better Data Results in Better Hiring

Social media screening may not provide much in the way of objective data, but organizations looking for that data can find it through pre-hiring assessments. Unlike social media profiles, these tests are scientifically designed to generate meaningful results that tell you whether a candidate possesses the right skills for a position or will be a good cultural fit for your organization.

At the Omnia Group, we’re committed to providing companies with the right tools to make better hiring and employee development decisions. Our selection of cognitive and behavioral assessments are designed to provide you with actionable data that helps you hire best-fit candidates and ensure that your employees have the resources they need to reach their potential. To learn more about our assessment tools, contact us today and let us know about your workforce's unique challenges.

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