The interview experience

You don’t know how many times I’ve watched a deal blow up because the interview experience was less than perfect.  Candidates waiting in lobbies, interviewers unavailable, hotels and cars not paid for in advance…. the list is endless.  By the time the candidate gets to an onsite, almost always they have gone through pre-screenings to know they are a candidate of interest.  With the market as competitive as it is today, it is so important to treat each candidate walking through the door as if they will be your next hire and make their process as seamless and enjoyable as possible.  Below are some important things to remember from a company perspective when planning your next onsite.
1)           Travel itinerary.  Cost is always important to a company but make sure as you are choosing flights that you are taking in to account how a candidate will feel about your choices.  Make sure you are balancing cost with practicality and not choosing 6-hour layovers versus straight through just to save a couple bucks.  Also, be mindful when a flight is getting in if it is a late hour and take in to account potential delays when setting the start time of the interview the next day. 
2)           A good experience should include the candidate NOT having to pay for things upfront and being reimbursed.  Only incidental things like meals, parking, tolls etc. should be reimbursed. 
3)           Interview Itinerary and instructions.  If a candidate knows what to expect during the onsite process, they are more apt to have a good experience.  Provide interview itineraries that include company address/directions, parking information, building access instructions, whom to ask for when they arrive, dress code and a detailed agenda of their day including whom they will be meeting with, that person’s title and how long the interviews will last.
4)           Tours should be a part of every onsite interview when possible.  Part of the decision-making process for a candidate is visualizing themselves in your environment.
5)           The interviews themselves.  Coach interviewers to be on time and to give the candidate the focus during this time and not answering phones, fighting fires or making a candidate feel like they are rushed through the process. 
6)           Feedback.  Let the candidate know when you plan on meeting as a group to discuss their results or when you plan on making a decision.  Again, if they know what to expect, even if you have a trail of candidates to process through before coming to a decision, your company will be more well-received.
7)           Decision and offer.  This should be the easy part where you come to terms and present an offer but in fact it is where most deals go south.  You would think it would be because of not agreeing on a salary but in fact, many broken deals are due to the process.  Accurately communicating to a candidate at this stage is essential.  Candidates want a timeline.  Let them know when they can anticipate an offer and if you can’t meet that deadline, call them. 
8)           Background checks.  This is a vacuum of time where a candidate has one foot in the door and the other out.  Keep in communication with your candidate during this time and update them where they are in process.  Building relationships early on forges ties between the company and candidate and makes it less likely you will have an 11th hour surprise where a candidate has continued the process with another employer and defaults on your offer.
9)           Welcome aboard call.  I always encourage companies to have the hiring manager reach out to the candidate once they have the all clear.  This validates for a candidate why they accepted your offer in the first place and that they’ve made a good decision.  
Bottom line, providing a good experience for the candidate is how you get their signature on an offer and to your front door.  And a good experience is just as important for the candidate that didn’t get the job.  Those are the candidates that will go back out in to your networks or communities and build or break your brand.  Remember it is much more likely that a candidate will share a bad experience versus a good one.