What Makes Your Interview Process Unique? 25 Experts Weigh In
The interview process is sort of like a fingerprint: while every company has one, they’re all unique.
Every company out there has developed its own flow when it comes to interviewing candidates, finding the processes and procedures that work best for them and their particular situation.
To see how some of the top employers in technology have crafted their own individualized interview processes, we asked 25 hiring professionals one simple question:
What makes your interview process unique?
Here's what they said.
Utilize Your Entire Team
INVOLVE YOUR LEADERSHIP TEAM
“Usually, companies will wait to involve the CEO or other C-suite members until the final discussion with a candidate; we typically have our executive team involved in the interview process early on. We think this cuts out an opportunity for the potential team member to experience the communication styles of company leadership.”
Angelek Marler, Project Management Officer at Adia
INCORPORATE MEMBERS FROM THE HIRING TEAM
“At AppSumo, we have a lean team that is very close, and having the right culture fit when it comes to our hires is high on the priority list. So every team member meets with candidates over coffee to talk about their experience, personal interests and skills. This is a great opportunity for every department to engage with potential new hires, as well as for candidates to get a real feel for the team.”
Vanessa Yepes, Customer Support Manager at AppSumo
INTRODUCE CANDIDATES TO CROSS-DEPARTMENTAL TEAMS
“Members of the SPINS solutions team will often work with sales and account management as well as our engineering, product management and data architecture experts throughout any given project. Our interview process reflects the importance of collaboration, as all candidates meet with members across different teams and each interviewers’ evaluation is critically considered.”
Patrick Kelly, SVP of Customer Relations at SPINS
Start the Process Before the On-Site Interview
CONDUCT PRE-EMPLOYMENT ASSESSMENTS
“Every candidate is required to complete our pre-employment assessment, no matter the level or position. The assessment is a great tool that helps us focus less on a candidate’s previous work history and more on their future growth opportunities. The other is our ability to hire candidates who are looking to enter a new field but perhaps have little to no experience in that area, or those who are career changers who want to transition from one functional role into another. For us, it’s about a candidate’s aptitude to learn new things and contribute to our dynamic culture.”
Aileen Edwards, Manager of Global Talent Acquisition at Khoros
ASK KEY QUESTIONS EARLY ON IN THE PROCESS
“Our interview process usually begins with a preliminary phone screen for us to get to know the candidate and tell them more about Plaid and the role. From there, candidates may be asked to complete an assessment before being invited onsite to meet some key team members. Our interviews are intended to be conversational and driven by the candidate. While candidates will be asked thoughtful and engaging questions, they will be encouraged to ask questions. Candidates may notice we emphasize the ‘real’ aspects of the role. We want the candidate to know what their day-to-day will look like at Plaid.”
David Kaplowitz, VP of People and Operations at Plaid
BRING CANDIDATES ON-SITE BEFORE THE INTERVIEW
“We create a lively and inviting environment by welcoming candidates to an open house where applicants will actually come on site — prior to interviews — and get to know OpenTable’s culture, team and office in a casual atmosphere.
“Once invited back for an interview, our process for our support team allows you to get a look into a day in the life of someone who currently has the role. We have candidates come in and shadow our support agents and ask them questions when possible.
“We have a collaborative team mentality when it comes to hiring. Everyone — from CSRs to supervisors to our management team — is involved in one way or another. As a team, we come together to calibrate on the open house and interviews while sharing a meal together.”
Randy Abbott, Customer Support Operations Manager at OpenTable
Growth doesn’t have to hurt.
Ask The Right Interview Questions
ALLOW FOR OPEN-ENDED RESPONSES
“At Fiverr, we believe in the art of entrepreneurialism, hustling and getting sh*t done. During our hiring process, we strategically implement questions and exercises that tell us whether or not a candidate is a self-starter, or as we like to call it, a 'doer.' The interview process is very qualitative and open-ended, even for product or developer roles that can be slightly more quantitative.
“When hiring, we look for passion, hard work and dedication. We also put a lot of attention on making sure that candidates are not just a fit for the position they are applying for, but a fit for our brand as well. The Fiverr community is made up of millions of people around the world, 190 countries to be exact, and we want to make sure our employees are as self motivated, open to taking risks and passionate as our community.”
Liat Peles, U.S. HR Director at Fiverr
IDENTIFY SPECIFIC CHARACTERISTICS IN CANDIDATES
“Our interview process typically includes a variety of Examity team members so both Examity and the prospective employee can assess if the opportunity is a good fit.
“What does 'fit' look like at Examity? As a fast-growing edtech company, we want team members who are ready to be challenged. Being successful here takes an entrepreneurial mindset: Are you willing to take risks? Are you comfortable with change? Do you aspire to build on your past successes and develop your leadership skills? Candidates who answer 'yes' to those questions have the unique combination of flexibility and ambition that we look for in prospective teammates.”
Kara Courtois, Director of HR at Examity
Make the Interview a Two-Way Conversation
ENSURE THE INTERVIEW IS MUTUALLY BENEFICIAL
“At PG, we want to make sure that the interview experience is mutually beneficial between us and the potential employees. It is important to us that candidates are given the space to recognize and express what they’re looking for in their next opportunity — as we’re solving for needs on both sides.
“As far as what we look for in prospective teammates, we focus on finding individuals who embody our values, which we believe are our baseline expectations in working with other human beings. Beyond that, they are encouraged to bring anything else they have to the table since that is what ultimately leads to creativity and innovation. Oh, and being a dog-lover doesn't hurt either!”
Cindy Gordon, VP of People at PolicyGenius
LEARN AS MUCH ABOUT CANDIDATES AS THEY DO ABOUT YOUR TEAM
“We don’t focus our attention on brain teasers or impossible questions. Our interview process is meant to be a two-way interview: we want to learn as much as possible about the candidate, but we also want them to learn as much as possible about our culture and day-to-day operations so everyone can make as informed a decision as possible.
“We take a realistic approach to the interview and always try to work through something interesting we have been working on recently. We also discuss our methodologies and processes to ensure candidates get a realistic look at the job and the team.
“At the end of the day, we are trying to assess what would it be like to work with the candidate, and we want to offer them that same opportunity to assess us. Once a candidate makes it onsite, their technical abilities have been fully vetted. Onsite interviewing allows us to focus our attention to cultural fit. We think that is key to having a successful team.”
Alejandro Castro, Director of Software Development at SecureLink
ENCOURAGE CANDIDATES TO ASK QUESTIONS TOO
“Respect: We do want to make sure we give everyone equal consideration and respect their time. The first step in our process is a two-minute questionnaire with a good mix of aspirational and practical questions.
“It’s about you, not us: While we will come with many questions, we will also spend significant time sharing with you the ins and outs of the role and why we believe you could be a fit. We do expect every candidate to come with their own questions. It’s fair to say that at SpotMe, 'interview' is a misnomer and 'exchange' would be a better word for it.
“Leadership involvement: Hiring people is the single most important decision for a company and our CEO, Pierre Metrailler, personally meets and interviews every candidate during the process. His approach is simple: transparency and establishing a personal connection are key.”
Alexandra Tamashiro, Marketing Manager at SpotMe
CREATE A PERSONALIZED INTERVIEW EXPERIENCE
“One of Xero's core values is #human. We understand how important it is for candidates to find the right career fit, so we strive to deliver a personable, #human interview experience. We pride ourself on our culture and are very protective of it, so expect at least half of the interview to revolve around how you live our values and will be a great addition to our culture.”
Justin Pendergrass, Senior Talent Specialist at Xero
Balance Technical Skills with Shared Values
SEE IF CANDIDATES ALREADY LIVE YOUR CORE VALUES
“We look to see if a candidate has the technical acumen in our tech stack, but also that they understand and will embody our core values. During the interview process, we ask technical questions about our core values. We might ask a candidate to give us an example of some specific technical challenge they’ve faced, but also ask if they can give examples of times that they demonstrated one of our core values. We look for people who are not robots, but who are willing to ask questions and have open discussions to make sure we are doing things the best way we can.
“Our team is very diverse in our skill sets, but the one thing we have in common is the desire to continue to learn — whether that be in our area of expertise or an area that we are not as familiar with.”
Doug Stillings, Software Engineer at CampMinder
KEEP DIVERSITY HIRING GOALS TOP OF MIND
“Spruce prioritizes diversity in all that it does. It is one of our core hiring principles and is discussed in every kickoff we have for a new role. Spruce also has 10 defined company values, including diversity, which are woven into every interview process. This means we’ve got diverse perspectives on every team, at all levels of seniority.
“Additionally, leadership reviews long-term company goals and OKRs with the team on a regular basis. Our company-wide meetings allow individuals to showcase their work and provide perspectives on the key business priorities and decisions. This transparency ensures that progress and changes are well-socialized and creates a space for feedback on all initiatives from high-level strategic decisions to delivery of a new feature.”
Nicole Reyes, Head of Product at Spruce
LEARN HOW CANDIDATES WILL ADD TO YOUR CULTURE
“In all interviews, a well-rounded team assesses skills and value-fit. Peers, direct reports and managers are all part of the interview process. By the end of the candidate’s time at NI, we want them to know what working with everyone would be like. In addition to the core skills of the job, we want to know if candidates embody our core values of collaboration, ownership, leadership and an entrepreneurial spirit. Our values make us unique as a company, and we want new colleagues to add to our culture.”
Deborah Evans, People Manager at Networked Insights
Test Candidate Skills in Real-Life Scenarios
ASSESS SKILLS DIRECTLY RELATED TO THE ROLE
“Our interview process gives candidates an opportunity to show their skills. If you’re interviewing for a sales role, you do a presentation. If you’re in engineering, you write code. If you’re a content marketer, you write a piece of content. We realize not everyone is a great interviewee, but that doesn’t mean their skills aren’t outstanding.
“Throughout the interview process, candidates meet with their potential manager quite a bit, along with their would-be peers and even leadership. We also like to take candidates out to network over a meal or beverage. It’s important that you like us as much as we like you. Talking outside the office is a great way to make sure you want to spend 40 hours a week with us.”
Megan Kovach, Director of Talent Acquisition at Project44
HOLD A PAID WORK TRIAL THAT'S PRE-CONTRACT
“It’s long. We have screening calls with multiple members of the team, a paid work trial and a multi-week contracting period prior to being hired. We want candidates to try us on for size, and we want to gauge conviction and cultural fit. We’re looking for people who want to make a dent in the universe, and that takes a bit more time than an online application or coding test.”
Alan Curtis, CEO at Radar
ALLOW CANDIDATES TO SHOW RATHER THAN TELL
“Because our process is skills based, we don’t feel the need to put on the scare tactics. We want to create an experience where you get a taste of the awesome culture here, but mostly, we open up the opportunity for you to play on the field. Our interview starts like any other interview: a preliminary phone screen with our recruiter, and, if everything goes well from there, then we’re going to invite you to meet more of the team.
“Our onsite interview is broken down into two parts: First, we set you up with a sales manager to run through a role play session, where you get to learn how to pitch our product, and our sales managers see your selling style and how you take coaching. This actually prepares you for the next step: We have a computer set up, we’ll give you a headset and a script and we’ll have you make some calls. This is where our candidates really get to shine.”
Alex Rainer, Director of Sales at Signpost
Establish Stages within Your Interview Process
MAKE SURE EACH INTERVIEW STAGE HAS A CLEAR PURPOSE
“Our interview process is binary: candidates have to pass each stage to move on to the next. It’s really thorough. Each stage gives us an opportunity to learn more about how someone communicates and solves problems, and what skills they bring to the role. As a candidate, it’s a really great opportunity to see what it would be like to work here and who you will be working with, from peers to leaders. As an employee, it’s an amazing chance to help grow and shape the organization. Hiring is a company-wide effort!”
Karen Mascavage, Manager of Talent Partners at Stack Overflow
COLLABORATE WITH YOUR TEAM AT EACH STAGE
“Our interview process typically consists of two phone screens, a series of in-person interviews and then a final-stage project or presentation. Movable Ink has a very collaborative work environment. One thing I find makes our process unique is that in choosing our interview panel, we really try to think about who this person will regularly collaborate with and include them on the lineup.”
Molly Hopkins, Recruiter at Moveable Ink
UTILIZE DIFFERENT TEAM MEMBERS AT EACH STAGE
“Our interview process includes approximately three to four stages, where candidates meet with different team members from Platterz across North America. This is a great opportunity for them to learn about the scope and vision for Platterz, all while getting to know our organization and team members. Our local team in Boston plays a key role in the interview process for our Boston office, meeting all of our candidates before extending an offer.”
Iryna Korsunska, Talent Manager at Platterz
Keep the Interview Process Succinct and Convenient
ALWAYS EVOLVE AND IMPROVE YOUR HIRING PROCESS
“As a young company, our interview process is ever-evolving. Not having any redundancy is incredibly important to us. When you know something, we can tell. We don’t need you to get up and diagram something on the whiteboard or elaborate for an hour. We try to fill our time with natural conversation, so the interviewee feels they are getting to know us just as we get to know them. We look for people who are passionate about their careers, and the natural conversation tends to tell us all we need to know about that person’s current knowledge and potential.”
John A. Entwistle, CEO at Coder
KEEP THE PROCESS SHORT AND SWEET
“We try to keep our interview process as simple and efficient as possible so that we and the candidate can make a timely decision about whether we align with each other’s interests and goals. The first step is a call with a member of our talent acquisition team to answer the candidate’s questions about the role, team, and company while identifying what they’re looking for in their next position and company they join.
“If there’s some alignment, we’ll schedule a phone conversation between the hiring manager and the candidate. Here is an opportunity to take the discussion a step deeper. If we’re still a match, awesome. Let’s bring the candidate in to meet with the rest of the team and have them check out what our environment is like. After an onsite, we discuss feedback individually and as a team and come to a conclusion to move forward or not, usually within 48 hours.”
Shaun Kelly, Talent Acquisition Lead at Threat Stack
BE FLEXIBLE WITH CANDIDATES' INDIVIDUAL SCHEDULES
“We want to learn more about a candidate’s skills but also get to know them on a personal level so we can make sure they are a fit with the team and our collaborative culture. We have a fast and effective three-stage interview process, which allows us to get a comprehensive picture of a candidate’s professional background and personality. Stage one is a phone screen, while stages two and three are both in-office interviews, which allow candidates to meet with the hiring manager, executive team members, and others within their potential departments.
“We use a data-backed interview methodology that allows us to make the most of the candidate’s time and allows them to tell their story. We know that it can be challenging to interview while being employed so we try to be flexible on interview times, frequently interviewing candidates after typical business hours so candidates take minimal time off from work.”
Tony Tornaritis, Talent Acquisition Manager at Forward Financing
UTILIZE RECRUITMENT TOOLS TO SIMPLIFY PROCESSES
“As a leading tech company in Austin, we take full advantage of technology to help make our interviews unique. We use HireVue OnDemand and HireVue LIVE to conduct video interviews with candidates across the globe, which can be taken on both web and mobile devices and allows you the flexibility to complete the interview on your own time.”
Johnathan Mesta, Technical Recruiter at Blackbaud