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How to Make the Most of One-and-Done Interviews in the War for Technical Talent

Panel interview short

A one-and-what? As an employer, you may be skeptical of conducting just one interview to vet a new candidate instead of a comfortable two, three, or four. Unfortunately, companies are losing their front-running candidates left and right in today's market as competition swoops in, moves faster, and sometimes makes a better offer.

A shorter interview cycle is becoming not only the trend but also a crucial factor in securing highly-skilled talent. Here’s why and some tips for trying it out.


THE APPEAL & NEED FOR ONE-AND-DONE INTERVIEWS

Hiring has undoubtedly changed over the past few years. Before COVID-19, companies would primarily consider local candidates and those willing to relocate. Interviews would take place onsite in a one or two-step process of tech screens and panels. 1-2-3… you got the job!

Unfortunately, today, with the move to remote work, hiring has become more drawn out than ever. To land a job at any company, candidates now face multiple virtual interviews with multiple people across multiple teams. Final hiring decisions take anywhere from a week to a month - sometimes more. The process is exhausting for everyone involved.

In addition to the new interview process, the search has extended from local talent to fully-remote candidates who are just as strong and qualified. Here, the only downside for companies is that the candidate has the upper hand. With more opportunities at their fingertips, they’re choosing companies that move fast and compensate well. 

What I’m saying is that - from what I’ve seen - companies are struggling to keep up and secure their favorite candidates. One-and-done interviews are becoming a must.

 

3 KEYS TO A SUCCESSFUL ONE-AND-DONE INTERVIEW

The key to securing great talent in today's competitive market is a shortened interview and hiring cycle. During just one or two hours with a candidate, you can gain tons of insight surrounding their skills, professionalism, and cultural fit. In many cases, that may start with considering necessities (what you need to know) versus nice-to-haves (what you’d like to know) - but, ultimately, there’s more to it than just that.

As a decision-maker in your company’s hiring process, there are three main ways to succeed in one-and-done interviews.

1. GET YOUR AGENDA IN ORDER

Block off one hour for the interview – you read that right! For this type of interview, your best bet is to utilize the first 30 minutes for a tech and skill-set screen and the last 30 minutes for a panel. It will also help to share the agenda with your candidate and internal team in advance to set expectations and help the conversation flow smoothly. Remember, today’s candidates are busy and a commodity, so use their time (and yours) wisely!

A lot of planning and pre-thought should go into one-and-done interviews. You may find yourself spending more time upfront determining which core skill sets and technologies the candidate must bring to the role. It would help if you also try to outline specific questions for each panel member to ask relating to soft skills, prior experience, or cultural fit. Finally, the candidate can answer any last-minute, pressing questions in a quick email.

2. LET YOUR RECRUITERS HELP

Your Recruiters are your go-to hiring resource, so turn to them for help! Recruiters know how to properly pre-screen candidates to save you time in the hiring process. If there are specific pre-screening questions you need to ask the candidate, send them to your Recruiter so they can vet the candidate and make sure they’re a strong match skill-wise. From my experience in finding and vetting great talent, it’s best to focus on high-level questions to ensure the candidate meets the basic role requirements in advance.

3. PANELS RATHER THAN 1:1 CALLS

I mentioned it above, and I’ll stress it again! When done right, panels are a great way to squeeze in everything you need to learn about the candidate during a one-and-done interview. You can rely on different panel members to ask specific questions relevant to the position at hand and screen for both hard and soft skills. Zoom, WebEx, and Microsoft Teams video platforms will allow multiple team members across remote locations to participate simultaneously and evaluate the candidate.

Advice from my client: During a recent chat with one of my clients, I asked how their teams conduct efficient panel interviews. They shared that they include three developers and one BA in the interview… “The Developers ask the tech questions to ensure the candidate meets the mark on skill sets and previous project work. The BA is there to assess communication skills.” Utilizing a method like my client's will ensure you vet each critical angle during your panel interview.

 

FINAL CONSIDERATIONS & TIPS

Ultimately, the best way to find success in one-and-done interviews is to be strategic and fast! From my experience over the past few years, it pays to be less risk-averse and picky in your hiring process. While this type of interview isn’t ideal for every role out there, it can really come in handy for hiring in a pinch.

Now, it’s time for you to give one-and-done interviews a try! Comment below if you’d like me to share more tips on mastering hiring in today’s digital world.

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