Maggie BleharJanuary 9, 2024
Topics: Recruiter Experience

How to Fine Tune Your Interview Process: A Conversation With Fosway

Today’s interview process is broken. Candidates expect a fast, transparent experience, but have to jump through hoops to apply. Recruiters’ time is spent on traditional phone screens and scheduling interviews instead of meaningful engagement with applicants. And hiring managers lack the context and preparation they require to hire quality candidates quickly.

So how can companies elevate hiring productivity and the candidate experience as a whole?

On Talent Experience Live, we were joined by Fosway Group’s Sven Elbert, Sr. Analyst, HCM and Talent Practice, and Sebastian Niewöhner, Sr. Director, Product Management at Phenom. They explored best practices to improve screening, scheduling, and interviewing — while keeping organizations ahead of the hiring curve and lowering costs.

Read on for highlights, or view the whole episode below:

What hiring challenges do organizations face today?

Fosway Group, known for its research on HR industry trends and helping organizations help make better buying decisions, has seen Talent Acquisition (TA) leaders come under pressure like never before to do more with less. “There’s now a stronger emphasis on finding the best fit, and there’s no room for error in this recessive economy,” Elbert said.

For the interviewing process, huge shifts have been made as a result of the pandemic, and that means quality has to increase both systematically (producing better outcomes) and systemically (being executed with greater efficiency).

Spurred by virtual work, many organizations are introducing digital tools to improve various aspects of the hiring process — like decreasing time to hire, finding best fit talent, improving personalized experiences, and more. “In the conversations we’re having with HR and TA leaders, it’s certainly one of the major themes.”

There are always areas where companies can improve the candidate experience and candidate journey. In addition to employers becoming more tech-savvy, digital maturity among job candidates and employees also has increased, which means the Fosway team expects to see tools like video and automation throughout the hiring process.

“Overall, our research shows that candidate experience is a big focus for organizations – 60% see 'improving the candidate experience’ as one of their top three priorities for talent acquisition,” Elbert said.

And as for the jobs candidates want? “They want more transparency. They want to know where they stand, and what the next steps are,” Elbert said.

Candidates also want speed, convenience, and fewer but higher-quality interactions. “The worst thing you can do is ask candidates the same questions three or four times in different stages of the process.”

To win over today’s candidates, employers need to upskill hiring teams on conducting more efficient, effective interviews. They should also explore tools such as automated scheduling, interview guides, and prompt communications.

The most recent Fosway Report on Talent Acquisition spoke about how the “interview revolution” continues, so “the general advice I would give is to look at your technology and… embrace every improvement possible to better the process,” Elbert said.

Related reading: Four Ways to Improve the Interview Experience

How can organizations simplify the application and screening process?

According to Elbert, there are two main ways to do this:

1. Replace phone screenings with assessment tools

Traditional phone screenings are time-consuming — especially for high-volume roles. Companies are looking for more efficient methods for recruiters to assess job skills and expertise, including embedding assessment tools in the process.

Phenom’s Niewöhner sees good feedback from clients using one-way video or audio interviews for high-volume roles. “It automates the process of getting to know candidates in the same way they would actually appear in a live interview,” he said.

Elbert recommends using high-volume hiring to “stress-test” the processes, technology, and organization on a large scale, with the goal of revealing gaps and opportunities to streamline with technology. If you have a hard-to-fill role, for example, you wouldn’t want to use the same tools you would for an easy-to-fill role. In this scenario, recruiters would want to make the process more personal for candidates so that they can really see themselves fitting in at the company.

2. Use scheduling tools to save time and build trust

AI-supported automated scheduling tools can give hiring organizations the speed they need to reach candidates first in today’s tight labor market. “By automating the scheduling process, about 95% of interviews are scheduled within the first two days,” Niewöhner shared.

And it’s not just about getting a date on the calendar. Scheduling automations can generate additional context, such as where the candidate stands in the process, the people they’ll be interviewing with, and other details. It can also automatically reschedule interviews — and immediately send those updates to candidate and recruiter calendars. This leads to better transparency and increased trust in the organization.

“It helps create that emotional and psychological contract between a potential new employee and the organization,” Elbert said.

“The fact that I could schedule and reschedule at any phase of the process according to my availability was something I had not seen before and made me feel very valued from the beginning,” said a recent hire at Electrolux after using their AI Scheduling tool. (Read the full story here)

Case study: See how this company decreased their time to schedule an interview from 7 days to 24 hours

What are other ways organizations can stay competitive in hiring?

Elbert and Niewöhner agreed that time-saving automations balanced with human touch is a winning combination. Here are some ways to achieve this:

  • Use generative AI to save time on communications — but ensure messages are personalized. The Phenom Intelligent Talent Experience platform, for example, draws on CRM data to generate tailored communications.

  • Embed video messages into communication for a personal touch. (Phenom clients see 10-15% better conversion when they use this approach, according to Niewöhner.)

  • Provide candidates with the convenience of self-service options when it comes to scheduling, including time slots throughout the day to accommodate varying schedules.

  • Strive for 100% transparency. Keep candidates prepped on next steps, and don’t forget hiring managers and other interviewers — they need to be prepared with the right questions to ask.

Related Reading: The State of Automated Interview Management — 2023 Survey Report

What challenges can emerge in the later stages of the interview process?

Organizations must ensure the candidate journey continues seamlessly — and that can get tricky as the process goes on. This is the stage where candidates often are frustrated by repetitive questions, Elbert pointed out.

Interview intelligence tools can help alleviate this issue. Interview intelligence refers to using AI to surface insights from recorded interviews. With Phenom Interview Intelligence, you can automatically record any interview, eliminating the need to take notes and enabling your team to improve collaboration between hiring decision makers. All insights can be shared instantly among the hiring team, leading to more effective interviews and meaningful interactions with candidates. This approach is especially impactful for organizations that need to scale the process globally for hundreds of interviews.

It should be noted, however, that organizations need to be aware of applicable laws and regulations governing the use of various technologies during interviews, including AI and recording tools.

For example, in the U.S., employers need to inform candidates when an interview will be recorded, while in Germany, candidates need to actually provide consent, Niewöhner pointed out. In addition, Europe has different cultural norms around the use of AI that employers need to take into consideration.

What are the most important steps HR leaders should take right now to improve interviewing?

To level up the interview experience for everyone, Elbert shared these tips:

  • Don’t feel like you need to implement everything at once. Tailor your strategy to organization-specific challenges, and test out new approaches on a small number of roles.

  • Apply a skills-based mindset to job descriptions. Assess what skills will be needed in the future against skills that are currently available internally.

  • Look for ways to consolidate the HR technology stack into fewer products and platforms.

  • When it comes to applying AI to interviewing, look to vendors who can serve as a collaborative partner.

The interview is one of the very first interactions a candidate has with your company. Fine-tuning it to create an unforgettable experience is paramount to stand out against competitors and attract the best talent for the job.

To learn more about Phenom Interview Intelligence, book time with one of our experts here.

Maggie Blehar

Maggie is a writer at Phenom, bringing you information on all things talent experience. In addition to writing, she enjoys traveling, painting, cooking, and spending time with her family and friends. 

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