This is the fourth in the series around the secrets of leading a successful search. We started with the posting and the story behind the role, moved forward to the research and networking, then the important vetting process and now the on-site sessions and actually meeting of the candidates. We must discuss early on what the interview day will look like and plan for Game Day.
In our project management model, we outline the first six to eight weeks of the search. We promise results after 20 business days and have consistently delivered these results over the past fifteen years. I want my partners to immediately be thinking about what the on-site interview day(s) will look like and who will need and wish to be a part of these meetings. We have learned that five or six weeks out, schedules can be held and arranged so that we can drop-in names as we determine our group of finalists. As soon as arrangements are confirmed, this schedule can also be shared with candidates. Our practice is to share the names and titles of the team-mates they will meet across their day. We will also note the contact information for their on-site visit coordinator. If there is going to be a presentation, we share the topic early remembering that candidates will have limited time to craft a new presentation
Here is an example of a successful on-site interview schedule:
Day #1 – Morning Travel. Afternoon, candidate handles the transport from airport to hotel. They are then met at hotel by area Real Estate Agent for a Home/Neighborhood Tour. There was a phone meeting prior to make the best use of this tour-time to see some of the areas of interest. It is best if two to three hours can be devoted to this tour. The candidate is then dropped back to the hotel and picked up again for dinner with the hiring manager, a peer colleague, or a few members of the search committee. This evening meal sets the stage for the next day and is a classy touch for showing your welcome.
Day #2 –Candidate is met at the hotel and taken to breakfast and then on to the place of business. Depending on proximity, bringing luggage with the candidate making plans to escort them to the airport at the end of the day. Or, securing luggage and arranging a late check-out for the candidate. If there are multiple locations for meetings, someone should escort the candidate to these sessions is they are not within the same facility. One partner secures an Executive Conference Room within his offices for the day for all interviews and everyone meets the candidate there. In between meetings, and with breaks, this becomes the space for the candidate and it is a wonderful way to show hospitality. The end of the day is a very appropriate time for the hiring manager to have some important one-on-one time. Sometimes they will also escort the candidates back to the airport or hotel or have a colleague assist with this transport and have some added time to ask questions about the role and opportunity. This send-off is remembered! Travel late afternoon/early evening back to their destination.
Travel arrangements are always interesting. It is helpful to share this process with candidates immediately. If they are to make all of their own arrangements, please be prepared to share your travel policies and regulations and please work to reimburse them as quickly as is possible, this too will be remembered. I do have one partner who is authorized to write a check for travel receipts that can be presented on Interview Day. Everyone is always blown away by this practice.
Also important is getting the team on-board around the interviewing process. Sometimes this seems so obvious, but some teams are not accustomed to interviewing or have not done this in a very long time. Some teams are very interested and excited about the interviewing process; others are dreading the hiring of a new leader to replace a beloved manager. Candidates can sense the esprit de corps and this will be an important factor in their decision making. If there is a tour of the offices, please plan to show the candidate his/her potential office.
Never forget that the candidates are interviewing you, your role, their potential colleagues and staff members just as you are interviewing them. This must remain a conversation for best results. This is your chance to shine and create great a great game day experience. You have an opportunity to create raving fans with these interviews.
Post the interview dates, I have a game-plan as to when the next decision and next steps will be made to continue to keep the search on-task and on-time. This is important time to stay connected with your all candidates as this final communication is critical. Someone once said, :”the best-laid plans…”
The final recipe will include the offer, the transition and the beginnings of the on-boarding process.