What Makes a Great Interview? Lessons From the ’Best Places to Interview’
While tech giants like Facebook and major consulting firms like Bain dominate the latter, the former contains more than a few less-fawned-over companies, like the healthcare nonprofit Dignity Health and the CRM platform Salesforce.
The Best Places to Work list offers tons of inspiration for improving your company culture, but looking to the Best Places to Interview can help you figure out what your candidate experience should be like. The candidate experience doesn’t always receive as much funding or effort as employer branding initiatives do, but it really should: 83 percent of candidates say a negative interview experience can change their mind about a company, and 87 percent say the same about a positive interview experience.
So, what did organizations do to end up on the Best Places to Interview list? Let’s take a look at some of the anonymous feedback Glassdoor used to determine the composition of the list:
The Top 5 Best Places to Interview in the U.S.
1. Dignity Health
Interview Experience: 93 percent positive
Interview Difficulty: 2.7 out of 5
Interview Process: 21 days
“Interviewed with a director and manager. Very friendly, welcoming, and interested in hearing about my needs, we well as discussing what qualities they were looking for in a new team member. The employee who referred me told me about the caring atmosphere within the Dignity Health system, so I was not surprised that my experience was so positive.” – Dignity Health Employee (Santa Maria, CA)
2. Horizon Media
Interview Experience: 91 percent positive
Interview Difficulty: 2.7 out of 5
Interview Process: 17 days
“Each individual was pleasant and easy to talk to. There were times when I forgot it was an interview! It felt more like simple conversations about work and each other. I say ‘each other’ because each interview was very much a two-way conversation, not an interrogation. I was very relaxed and pleased with the whole process!” – Horizon Media Employee (New York, NY)
3. Cadence Design Systems
Interview Experience: 86 percent positive
Interview Difficulty: 2.9 out of 5
Interview Process: 23 days
“The interview process was smooth and proficient. Multiple smaller interviews were held throughout a few week span. HR and hiring managers were very responsive to questions/comments/concerns throughout the entire process. All follow-ups and phone calls post-interview were professional and educational. I would rate the whole process as painless.” – Cadence Design Systems Employee (Chelmsford, MA)
Interview Experience: 85 percent positive
Interview Difficulty: 3.3 out of 5
Interview Process: 35 days
“Interview process was lengthy, but thorough. Great opportunity to really see and understand the culture of the company. Greatly appreciated the transparency and the enthusiasm employees have for what they’re doing and the company.” – Salesforce Employee (Indianapolis, IN)
5. J. Crew
Interview Experience: 83 percent positive
Interview Difficulty: 2.0 out of 5
Interview Process: 9 days
“Very personal and easygoing. Asked about certain passions and goals and didn’t feel like just a simple retail job interview. Overall, felt comfortable and helped the nerves. The store energy was very friendly and welcoming.” – J. Crew Employee (New York, NY)
What Makes a ‘Great Interview’?
One immediately striking feature of the top five companies: None of their interviews received a difficulty rating higher than 3.3 or lower than 2.0.
What to make of this? Well, it seems candidates are a bit like Goldilocks when it comes to interview difficulty. They don’t want anything too hard or too easy, but something that’s “just right.” Rigorous enough to require a little effort, but not so rigorous that interviewees walk away emotionally and/or intellectually drained.
Another thing worth noting: The length of the interview process varied wildly, ranging from a low of nine days to a high of 35. The takeaway seems to be that the length of the process isn’t as important as the quality of the process – though that doesn’t give you license to drag your feet. You should always try to keep the process moving along as swiftly as possible. After all: While you’re busy taking your sweet time, someone could snatch your top choice right out from under you.
So if the quality of the interview is what matters most, then what qualitative characteristics do great interviews hold? Here, we see a pretty strong consensus: Great interviews are friendly, welcoming, and conversational. They’re not so much a chance to asses the candidate as they are a chance for candidates and employers to get to know one another in order to see whether there might be a fit.
If you’re angling to attract more high-quality candidates – and who isn’t? – this is the most important lesson you can take away from this year’s crop of Best Places to Interview: Treat your candidates like people, not potential seat-fillers. If every step of your interview process adheres to this principle, you just may find your company on next year’s list.
Oh, and your talent bench won’t be too shabby, either.