How to Avoid the Second Round Hiring Knockout

January 25, 2013
How to Avoid the Second Round Hiring Knockout

The second round hiring phase is completely different than the initial interview.. Read on to learn how to avoid the cut when the hiring pool has been narrowed.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away… I used to watch American Idol. Like so many others, I was engrossed by the process as the judges met with contestant after contestant in a grueling search to find the most talented singer. Anyone who has seen the show (or any of its 50 spinoffs) knows that contestants without the “it factor” can get through the early rounds. However, with each round and challenge, the best of the best emerges.

These rounds and rounds of qualification seem a bit like the hiring process, don’t they? It’s easy to see that if every round allowed the contestants to sing the same song, it would be impossible to find a winner with a broad range of talent. In the hiring world, this translates to the idea that if every round of interviews and meetings are the same, it will be impossible to find someone who is well rounded and versatile for the job.

I first harness this principle after I have narrowed my candidate pool down. After the introductory interviews, it’s time to challenge the remaining candidates in a new way. The way I do this is by creating three distinct scenarios for the prospective hires. I figure the more I can engage a candidate and expose their communication skills, the more confident I will feel in evaluating that person’s abilities.

Second Round Hiring Interview KPI's:

E-mail Communication. Before the interview begins, I set up a laptop in an empty office displaying two options of prewritten e-mails from “prospects.” Each candidate is allotted ten minutes to write his or her response to the e-mail.

This gives me a great way to test their writing skills in a real world. Is their writing style professional? Are they using proper grammar and spelling? How would my clients view their writing?

Phone Skills. To begin, I explain to the candidate that we will role-practice using the phone. I assume the role of an interested prospect and call from another room. The goal of this scenario is to set an appointment based on what they currently know about the business.

Understanding that their knowledge of the company is limited, my goal is to make this a rather easy conversation with one or two curve-balls. This gives me a clear understanding about how much they do know (and understand) about the company while also showing me their phone-selling skills.

Presentation Skills. Finally, I ask my candidates to do a brief whiteboard presentation. After they are given four categories, the participant will list the personal attributes they feel best describe each.

This is a good way to see how they handle presenting in front of groups. I may invite other managers to join. I always draw up scorecards so that we can all compare notes afterwards.

After conducting this interview I will head into my final selection. As with any hiring decision there is no way to be 100% sure, but I feel confident this process will increase my chances of success.

What scenarios have you presented to your candidates during the second round hiring process? Write some of your best or worst experiences in the comments below.

free download: the CFS guide to hiring


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.