Tuesday, May 4, 2010


When organizations need new employees they start up their recruiting process (preferably earlier, but that is not the topic of this article). Once the first candidates are selected the interviews will start.
Certainly at this initial stage you could say that the potential employees are still your customer. So, it would be a great idea to apply the rules of customer experience design to this process. But there is still a long way to go!

Let’s split up the interview process into three steps:
  1. Preparation
  2. Interview
  3. Follow up

Ad 1. Preparation
The expectations for the ‘new’ employee are high. They are supposed to have read all the relevant (web) information about the employer. Out of that huge database they have to distill relevant and clever questions. They also have to know what they want for themselves, what their goal is and why they would be ideally suited for the job. And of course what their motivation is.

This is all very logical and although it is very time-consuming, it is okay to ask that from the candidates.
But what about the employers? Most of the time they are not prepared at all. They start reading your cv/resume when the meeting starts. So, for the first part of the meeting you are staring at the top of the interviewer’s head who is frantically reading about you. They also did not bother to check your presence and activities on the social media.

This sets the scene for the rest of the interview. I.e. ‘we, the employer, are the boss, higher than you, and we are allowed things which you are not allowed to do. This is still the heritance of the industrial age, which has gone many years ago. This does not create a relationship, the feeling of being valued.

Ad 2. Interview
Most interviewers ask you to ‘walk’ them through your cv. The reason is because they have hardly read it , they want you to help them with their homework! It is boring to do and it only gives them a flavor of your past experiences.

The style of the interview looks like an interrogation. The employer asks the questions and you have to answer. If there is some time left at the end you can ask some questions also. But, we all know that an interrogation does not build a fruitful relationship. How about a dialogue? And ask the candidate about his/her passion, life-purpose and values. What are their hobbies are they involved in any volunteering? What are their personal goals (not only the professional goals)?

In that way you will get a more complete perspective and you can both easily see (and feel) whether there is a cultural fit.

Ad 3. Follow up
Sometimes the candidates are informed about the next steps in the process. In many cases they give a timeframe, which in practice is not being followed. E.g. we will let you know in one week whether you are invited for the next round. If you hear nothing than you have to assume that you were not selected. In some cases they will send you an anonymous letter (a ‘do not reply’ email address) that you were unfortunately not selected.

How is that for building a relationship? Even though I am not selected, I might still be your customer! Or maybe not any more, because you treated me like a number, like a man with no name and no value.
Maybe the employer can learn from the experience of the candidates, what went well, what could be improved as well?

The conclusion is that the interview process has to be redesigned to fit the needs and requirements of the 21st century! The tools and processes from design thinking can be very helpful to do this. At the same time we have to understand that a valuable employer- employee relationship has to be build on mutual respect and equality.


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