Advance Interview Planning

Travel Accommodation ChecklistLet me say upfront, that you may not need every step outlined in this article. So, just focus on the steps that apply to the interview situation for which you are preparing. As a matter of practice every candidate invited for an interview should be given information in advance regarding what will occur during the interviewing process.

This will provide the candidate with ample time to prepare for the interview and to gather documents such as addresses and phone numbers which will be necessary for reference checking purposes. Also if testing is required, the candidate should be informed as to how much time will be needed to complete the process so they may plan accordingly. This is a courtesy that can pay off by eliminating excuses, misunderstandings and situations that may start a relationship off on the wrong foot.

Communicating Travel Arrangements
Before an out of town candidate arrives, they will have formed an opinion about your company. That opinion may or may not be positive. Most candidates who travel for an interview will expect to fly in coach class and stay in a mid-range business class hotel. Arrange for the company to be billed rather than requiring the candidate to request reimbursement. If meals and cab fares are the candidate’s responsibility, let them know in advance. Travel arrangement mistakes can ruin the interview experience for both the company and the candidate.

Curb Appeal
The candidate’s opinion of the organization begins at the front door. The reception and waiting areas must have a clean, well furnished professional appearance. Prior to interviews, inspect the area to ensure that furnishings and lighting convey the desired image. Make sure that the magazines communicate the message that you are serious professionals. Take a look at what’s available in your reception area and do it often so that nothing inappropriate or questionable creeps in.

Interview Schedule
Pre-planned itineraries are mandatory for the efficient movement of candidates through an interview schedule. This helps all of the interviewers on the schedule to plan their day, and it reduces the possibility of potentially embarrassing conflicts. When you have multiple candidates, publish the schedule for each candidate at least one day in advance of the interview. It allows each interviewer to mark their calendars appropriately.

Do not use the “drop in” method of having the candidate “spend a few minutes with” a key person. The interviewers are not mentally prepared to effectively conduct an interview on the spur of the moment and may be significantly distracted over other urgent business activities. The resulting ineffective interview tells a candidate that interviews are not very important in the process. Candidates notice these things.

The professionalism of an itinerary lets a candidate know they are important and conducting business in an organized and well thought out manner is the norm for your company.

It is helpful to outline the day’s events with the candidate before beginning the sessions. This can be as simple as saying, “This morning (or afternoon), you will be interviewing with three managers. It will take approximately three hours and I will see you again at the conclusion of these interviews to answer any questions you may have.” The candidate knows what to expect, and another potential barrier has now been removed.

Before an interview officially begins, ask the candidate if he or she would like to use the restroom or get a drink of water first. Offer coffee or tea if you have it. A candidate’s discomfort could be misinterpreted as lack of interest or nervousness.

After a candidate has completed a morning of interviews, a company paid luncheon may have been scheduled. In a relaxed setting over a meal, interviewers have an excellent opportunity ask additional questions of the candidate. In a non-office setting, you may even get different (or expanded) answers to previously asked questions. Even if this is not the case, interviewers have a chance to see how a candidate behaves in different environments.

Travel Arrangements
The following checklist can be used to coordinate applicant travel as necessary:

  • Travel Accommodations Checklist
  • Confirm in advance of travel how these logistics will be handled.
  • Airfare & ticket (Who pays, how delivered?)
  • Transportation to and from office or hotel (Airport pickup or taxi?)
  • Taxi to office after breakfast meeting
  • Hotel accommodations and meals (How paid?)
  • Other entertainment or Special considerations

Related Articles: Interviewing … Egads!!  How to Identify and Train Future Managers

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James E. McClain is the author of Successful Career Development: A Game Plan, the book upon which some of our training programs are based. He has over 30 years' experience as a corporate HR executive, small business owner with ongoing experience in career development and as a college instructor. His educational background includes a B.S. and Masters degrees Education and Certification in Financial Planning. Our promise is that "you can pay more for training but you can not buy better training." The mission is to deliver the most effective and cost effective training and development programs.

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