This post originally appeared on CareerPlug's blog

If you’re lucky, you have a clear, simple hiring process.  Maybe you have steps one through five written out and if you follow through you end up with a great new employee who can be smoothly transitioned into the onboarding process.  Well, it’s nice to dream.  Often hiring managers and business owners have to develop this process for themselves - a system of trial and error than can take years to perfect, or even run smoothly.  Interviews, for example, are usually seen as the heart of hiring, but are often just as jagged bits of the puzzle as sourcing and crafting an offer.  How many interviews should you give a candidate?  One, three?  Can you talk someone for fifteen minutes and deem them a good fit to work the register at your mom & pop shop?  Is four rounds of interviews too much or just right for a high-level executive?

Every company builds their hiring process differently, and should tailor it their needs, resources, and culture.  Unfortunately there is not a magic guide for hiring, but there are plenty of resources to help you create a hiring plan that makes sense for you.  To help you get there, here’s a quick cheat-sheet for the different types of interviews.

Phone Interviews:  

Phone interviews are the true screening interviews.  They are the first interviewing step and should be designed to assess a candidate's potential to continue with the hiring process.  Usually lasting between 15 and 30 minutes, you can use this time to verify qualifications, ask preliminary questions, and see if they can hold your interest like their resume and cover letter did.  Phone calls are particularly effective when you have a large volume of applicants and need to quickly narrow down your applicant pool to a manageable number.  But phone interviews are usually worth your time even if you’re not dealing in high-volume hiring - you are still saving yourself and the job seeker time with a phone call.

In-Person First Interview:

The staple of the hiring process, all companies and all people conduct interviews differently.  In-person interviews can last between 30 minutes to 2 hours (longer in some cases depending upon the position).  Utilize or design an interview guide that allows you to get the most out of your face-to-face time, especially if you don’t have a second interview built-in your process.  Prepare time to talk about the position and leave space for the interviewee to ask questions at the end.  And remember, just as this is your first impression of a candidate, it is also their first impression of you and your company.  In the end, making a hire is mutual agreement, so make sure you hold yourself to the same standards you are holding applicants during an interview.

Second (or third or fourth) Interviews:

Second interviews are common and becoming standard at most companies, especially for higher-ranking positions.  After the first round of interviews, you might have narrowed down your applicant pool to handful of candidates (usually between two and five).  A second interview in an opportunity to evaluate a candidate in-depth, and shouldn’t be the same as the first interview.  You may want to bring in different people the new employee would be working with, give a tour of the office, or have the candidate prepare a presentation or come with ideas for a project.  Some companies do a third or even a fourth interview, but make sure you consider the candidate experience before building these into your process.  Sometimes additional interviews are necessary, but most candidates will become annoyed if they’re dragged into the office four times without a decision.  The hiring process can already be lengthy enough.

Video Interviews:  

Video interviewing has become more and more frequent as companies utilize the technology available to them.  It gives employers the chance to connect to interested and qualified candidates whose geography isn’t in sync.  Whether a candidate is on the brink of a move or willing to relocate, don’t write them off because they can’t show up at your front door (especially if you can’t pay travel expenses to interview them in-person).  As with in-person interviews, you still need to be prepared and professional for video interviews.  Apart from the handshake, though, the content of the interview won’t be that different.  You do have to spend time setting up the room, making sure the technology functions, and coordinating with others who will be present for the interview.  For example, I once did a video interview with seven interviewers, all who couldn’t fit in the frame of the camera.  It resulted in some awkwardness when I had to address a question that came to me from someone out of my view.

In a previous post we also talked about Group Interviewing. What combination of interviews do you use in your hiring process?

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