Preparing your candidates for interviews

/ / career site, interviewing, diversity


I've been thinking a lot about access.  Specifically, the access some candidates have - or don't have - to information about interviewing process.  Some of us grew up knowing people who worked in big companies - our parents, our friends, our college professors - who could give us insights into what to expect we'd be asked, to help us prepare for behavioral interviewing or white-board or role-play questions, to help us understand what they're REALLY listening for when asking certain questions.  But, some of us didn't have any of that.  And what a disadvantage it would be to NOT know what to expect.  It would absolutely impact your interviewing performance and the perception of that performance by corporate recruiters and hiring managers. 

The Problem

In many cases, hiring teams will hire someone who is a great interviewee over a great performer (a false positive hiring decision) or decline someone who is a poor interviewee who would have been a great employee (a false negative hiring decision).  

The Opportunity

I feel like, as recruiters, we have an obligation to help candidates succeed.  Not to share every little detail about what we're listening for in our competency based questions, or to tell them the key phrases to use to influence a particular hiring manager to hire them.  But to bring transparency to the overall interviewing process - the "what to expect" part that's not always accessible to all candidates.  I mean, what a colossal waste - especially if your goal is to recruit from non-traditional sources to improve diversity - to bring a candidate in for an onsite interview only to fail because they didn't know how to prepare.  Am I right?  Yes, I am right :)

So, what can we do?

First, we can bring some visibility and transparency to our process.  As recruiters, we can publish a blog post on our main company website and write up something on our career site that outlines "what to expect when you interview with us."  We can then share a link to this during the interview scheduling process and on Glassdoor.  Example?  Google does a pretty good job here:

Second, we can point candidates to some resources that other people have prepared.  Imagine the benefit a technical candidate who has never interviewed with a big brand tech company would get if someone could share with them a step by step "how to prepare to interview at a big tech company" guide.  Here's a great site that does just that: That same site offers company-specific guides, as well. (WOW!) Facebook, for example:

When I was a hands-on recruiter, I wanted my candidates to win.  I'd do my best to prep them before the onsite interview, but honestly, I wasn't consistent in my approach, and didn't have something pre-built to point them to (but I wish I did).  Now, it's trivially easy to build a little content and share it online, via email, on social, on your career site, or on the sites candidates use to research you, like Glassdoor.  

What do you do to level the playing field and help your candidates navigate the interview process at your company?

John Vlastelica
Founder, Recruiting Toolbox

p.s. My firm, Recruiting Toolbox, is starting to do our part by providing more "access and information" to under-represented groups.  For example, we delivered a "reverse engineering the interview" training session for a developer academy that focuses on under-represented groups (Ada Developers Academy is a non-profit, tuition-free coding school for women and gender diverse adults that focuses on serving low income people, underrepresented minorities, and members of the LGBTQIA+ community).  In addition to influencing your own company to put more content on your career site, perhaps you can also volunteer to share your insights from the employer/recruiter side at a community college or community group, and help people who don't have easy access to interviewing insights improve their confidence and skills.