The world over, companies vie for the attention of the industry’s best talent. In this stiffly fought battle for candidate attention, every step matters. By simply paying attention to interview scheduling, HR and recruitment professionals can make a huge shift in the overall interviewing experience.
According to the 2022 Candidate Experience Report by Criteria, 33 percent of candidates decline job offers due to a lack of flexible work options. If that seems a lot, consider that 53 percent of candidates abandon the recruitment process owing to poor communication. As an HR professional, efficient communication and interview scheduling can go a long way in ensuring success.
This comprehensive guide aimed to help HR professionals effectively handhold candidates throughout the outreach and engagement journey.
What is Interview Scheduling?
Interview scheduling is a comprehensive process with multiple stages. For the interview scheduling process to be effective, the candidate, the HR/recruitment professional, the hiring manager, interviewer/panel and any additional personnel need to coordinate very closely. Given the stakes involved, communication gaps are an ill-afforded luxury.
Beyond the people involved, the interview scheduling process must also factor for essential discussions, measurement metrics, available slots across multiple calendars and more.
How to approach Interview Scheduling
Since the hiring phase for a candidate can runover a significant period, the interview scheduling process must adapt across three key phases: pre-interview, interview, and post-interview.
1. Pre-Interview Phase
This phase begins with the initial conversations, even preliminary exploratory discussions up until an interview. At this stage, both sides in the discussion are still getting to know each other. This is where HR professionals and recruiters can lay the groundwork for a smooth interview experience.
Since these are initial exchanges of information, communications signals between you and the candidate will form the first impression here. Sending communication over email or other platforms with clarity and transparency creates a positive impression among candidates.
- Confirm the Hiring Team’s availability
Once you have collated the list of applicants and potential candidates to engage in a conversation, the next step is a round of filtering. This is where you weed out obvious profiles that do not meet the requirements for the job profile.
The next task is to work closely with the internal hiring managers and interviewers. At this stage, you also face a challenge in accommodating the need of the candidate as well as the interview panel.
Seek input from everyone in advance. Offer alternative options to offset conflicts. Timely reminders for both sides of the discussion in the run up to the call or meeting help avoid unpleasant surprises.
- Prepare and Send Interview Details
A well-structured email invitation prior to the interview helps establish comfort and confidence. Since this is an activity you will perform frequently, creating a template will increase efficiency and ensure consistency. Mention essential information, such as the job title, date, time, and duration of the interview.
This will help the candidates have a better understanding of what to expect during the interview and move any external engagements, if needed. You may also include the names of the interviewers and their LinkedIn profiles to serve as a reference for candidates to prepare better for the discussions.
- Prepare for the Interview
Before the interview, familiarize yourself with the candidate’s background and relevant skills. Based on the needs of the hiring manager, prepare a set of questions that help evaluate skill and culture fitment within the team and organization.
If your organization has any assessment tests to gauge these parameters, this would be the apt moment to rate the candidate objectively. This preparation ensures that you can ask targeted questions to assess the candidate’s suitability for the role.
2. Interview Phase
In this next phase, the candidate will start engaging with individuals apart from you. Setting a detailed process for information flow and steps during the interview will ensure that the same enriching experience you have created pre-interview phase continues undampened.
- Create a Positive Candidate Experience
In case of a face-to-face interview, besides the interview panel, you will also need to ensure available facilities and meeting rooms. If the interview is virtual, then confirm any dial-in details for the platform, with instructions on installation prior to the call. Establish a welcoming atmosphere for candidates by making them feel at ease during the interview.
Engage in a conversation with the candidate to ease them out of any nervousness on the day of the interview. This is an opportunity to highlight the company’s culture and work environment.
- Conduct the Interview
To make effective use of the face time you have with the candidate, rely on standardized interview questions that you create before getting to the interview phase. This ensures that all candidates go through a fair, objective, and unbiased evaluation.
During the evaluation process, focus on the candidate’s problem-solving approach, rather than the answers specifically. In an article for the Harvard Business Review, Nilofer Merchant advises, “Instead of asking, ‘Have you done x or y or z?’ you want to ask, ‘How would you approach doing x or y or z?’” To ensure that your approach is as bias-free as possible, take notes. This will help you revisit the discussion later to identify any gaps or strengths that may have gone unnoticed earlier.
- Seek Feedback from Candidates
Once the interview has ended, check again with the candidate to seek feedback on the process and their experience going through it. If you want to make changes in the specific areas of the hiring process, you can ask them questions to gain more information on the interview process itself. This open communication fosters a positive impression of the company’s values and candidate-centric approach. If there is consistent feedback from multiple candidates, that is an opportunity to fix it.
3. Post-Interview Phase
In the post-interview phase, you assess the candidate. This is where to refer to the notes you captured while the interview was going on. If needed, you may also borrow notes from the interview panel to have a 360-degree evaluation of the candidate. Collect feedback from everyone possible, and work closely with the hiring team.
- Fill the Interview Scorecard
Based on the information you have gathered from your notes and the collective feedback of the interview panel, fill in the interview scorecard. Enter in as much detailed feedback as you can. This helps in the event of a tie between a tough choice between candidate scores.
This helps create an objective evaluation process, while also minimizing the impact of personal human biases.
- Collaborate with the Hiring Team
Since the candidate you have interviewed will work closely with the hiring team rather than you, input from the respective team matters. This helps determine the suitability of the candidate for the role. Similarly, analyze candidate feedback to help improve the interview process.
- Provide Timely Communication
It is normal for candidates to eagerly seek the results of the interview. It is only fair to send them an email thanking them for the time they have spared to be a part of the process and their patience. The email is a good opportunity to inform them of the expected timeline to provide them with the results.
Email Template to Schedule an Interview
To help you with interview scheduling, we have created an email template that you can customize based on your needs.
Subject: [Company Name]: Your Interview for the Position of [Job Title]
Hello [Candidate’s Name],
Thank you for your application and interest in the position of [Job Title] at [Company Name]. We are impressed by your work background and would like to invite you for an interview [at our office / via Skype / via phone] to discuss the position of [Job Title] and get to know you better.
We see mutual alignment between your experience and the requirements for this role.
Date: [Day, Month, Year]
Time: [Start Time – End Time]
Duration: [Duration in Minutes/Hour]
Location/Platform: [In-office Address / Skype ID / Phone Number]
Interviewers: [Names and LinkedIn Profiles]
Please let me know your preferred time slots from the following options, and I can send over a confirmation and additional details:
[Day, Time 1]
[Day, Time 2]
[Day, Time 3]
Looking forward to meeting you,
[Your Contact Information]
Interview Scheduling: 5 Best Practices to follow
Constant coordination with a larger pool of candidates with varying requirements and stages in the hiring process can get daunting. However, with better planning and adequate preparation, interview scheduling can be a breeze. In an article by Forbes, Neil Morelli from Codility advises that instead of banking on your intuition or your candidates interviewing skills, it’s better to have a plan. We recommend the following best practices for interview scheduling:
1. Schedule interviews immediately
The best talent in the industry is not available for hire all the time. When they are, they could be having parallel conversations with multiple companies. Therefore, when you have identified prospect for an interview, act swiftly to schedule an interaction. Inaction or delays could prove costly.
If your conversations give you the confidence of a potential fitment, make the next move. Respect their schedules by adhering to the times you have agreed upon. In case you have interviews lined up with multiple candidates on the same day, consider buffer periods between each session. This prevents one interview from delaying the next.
2. Use standardized interview questions
Given the impact of inherent human biases, and human oversight that could result in undesired experiences, standardized questions ensure consistency in results. Moreover, it also enables more objective notetaking and collaboration internally between the interview panel.
The implementation of standardized interview questions in the interview process ensures consistent evaluations and fair comparisons between candidates. In addition, having a list of standardized questions also makes it possible to evaluate each candidate on specific focus areas such as skills, approach, or problem-solving abilities.
3. Schedule follow-up interviews with quicker turnarounds
Once you have identified a profile that fits the requirement to be shortlisted for interviews, you must move as quickly as you can. Be accommodating to the scheduling needs and comfort of the candidate. It creates an impression.
This can be a major influence in choosing the offer when left with a choice. If your potential candidate has cleared the initial round of interview and your hiring process requires additional rounds, having a quicker turnaround time will reduce the overall time from the first interview to an offer letter.
4. Engage effectively
Clarity builds trust. During the interview process, the transparency that you offer candidates will boost the perception they have about you and your organization. We all have schedules that change all the time. That is true even for the candidates you plan to interview.
If rescheduling happens frequently, communicate it transparently. Be flexible in accommodating the needs of your candidate to reschedule as well. This will help create a wonderful experience of interviewing with your organization.
5. Gather interviewer Feedback
The interview process will be at various stages with multiple candidates. It will be a challenge to recall the conversation with a candidate that happened days or weeks ago.
To ensure that the evaluation happens with objectivity and fairness, connect with each interviewer, and collate feedback about the candidate.
Bonus Tip : Use technology where you can
Relying on a scheduling tool such as a modern HRMS with an automatic interview scheduling feature can go a long way in easing your scheduling woes. Not only does it relieve you of the need to remember and coordinate between multiple calendars, but it also ensures necessary communications to the respective stakeholder in the conversation.
Using tools such as Google Calendar or even Outlook Calendar is an effective way to ensure hassle-free interview scheduling.
Interview Scheduling with Keka’s Applicant Tracking System (ATS)
Incorporating an ATS can significantly enhance the interview scheduling process. ATS can automate candidate communication, scheduling, and feedback collection. By streamlining these tasks, HR professionals and recruiters can focus on building relationships with candidates and enhancing the overall candidate experience.
1. Managing the Talent Pipeline
Finding the perfect candidates for your company can be a challenging task, but with Keka’s Applicant Tracking System (ATS) feature, you can streamline your hiring process and manage the talent pipeline effectively. From sourcing candidates to making data-driven decisions, Keka’s ATS empowers you to build a pool of qualified candidates ready for the next steps in your hiring process.
2. Contacting the Right Candidates
Craft job descriptions with clarity. This increases the probability of top talent considering your organization as an employer. Keka’s ATS allows you to communicate job descriptions and goals effectively across high-ranked job sites and social networks. By leveraging this feature, you can significantly increase the visibility of your job postings and ensure that you are reaching the most relevant candidates.
3. Treating Each Hiring Role as an Individual Project
Managing candidates for separate roles can quickly become overwhelming without proper organization. Keka’s Candidate Kanban feature empowers you to treat each hiring process like a project. With a clear visual representation of candidate progress, you can easily assess where you stand in the hiring process and ensure a smooth flow from one stage to the next.
4. Screening Candidates for the Right Set of Skills and Competencies
Identifying candidates with the right skills and competencies is essential to make informed hiring decisions. Keka’s ATS comes with pre-employment testing capabilities, allowing you to assess candidates’ qualifications quickly and efficiently. By leveraging this feature, you can ensure that you are inviting the most suitable candidates for interviews.
5. Interview Scorecard of Each Candidate for Better Decisions
Making hiring decisions can be challenging, especially when multiple team members participate in the process. The Interview Scorecard feature by Keka simplifies decision-making by providing a standardized assessment of candidates. With clear scorecards, you gain valuable insights into each candidate’s strengths and areas for improvement, helping you select the best fit for your company.
6. Bird’s Eye View of Each Job Posting
Posting job openings across various platforms can be time-consuming and difficult to track. Keka’s ATS centralizes your job postings, making it easy to manage and monitor their performance. By analyzing the effectiveness of each job posting, you can fine-tune your recruitment strategy and optimize your reach to attract top talent.
7. Simplified Interview Scheduling
Scheduling interviews can be a logistical challenge, but with Keka’s Interview Scheduler, it becomes a breeze. This feature enables you to seamlessly coordinate interview times with candidates and leave helpful notes to prepare them for the meeting. A smoother interview process creates a positive candidate experience and enhances your employer’s brand.
8. Crafting Offer Letters
Crafting offer letters can be a time-consuming task, but not with Keka’s ATS. Utilize pre-defined templates or customize offer letters to suit your needs. With candidate information, offer details, and necessary documents all in one place, you can streamline the offer letter creation process and extend offers to your chosen candidates seamlessly.
With Keka’s ATS feature, you can optimize your interview scheduling process and build a talented team that drives your company’s success. From managing the talent pipeline to crafting offer letters, Keka’s ATS empowers you to excel in your recruitment efforts and secure top-notch talent for your organization.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. What should I include in an interview scheduling email?
An effective interview scheduling email should include essential details to ensure a smooth and organized interview process. It should contain the following key information:
- Job title and company name in the subject line.
- Multiple interview date and time options for candidates to choose from.
- Interview format (is it virtual, over the phone, or face-to-face).
- Duration of the interview.
- Interviewer’s name and designation.
- Interview location or platform details (address or link for virtual interviews).
- Any specific instructions, dress code, or documents candidates need to bring.
- Contact information for any questions or to request rescheduling.
2. How do I handle rescheduling or canceling interviews with candidates?
Rescheduling or canceling interviews can happen due to unforeseen circumstances, but it is essential to manage these situations professionally and respectfully. When rescheduling an interview, promptly inform the candidate of the change and offer alternative dates and times that work for both parties. Show understanding and flexibility to accommodate their schedule. If you must cancel an interview, express regret, and offer to reschedule at their convenience. Clear and timely communication is key to maintaining a positive candidate experience.
3. What steps should I follow to schedule interviews with candidates?
For a seamless hiring process and efficient interview scheduling, follow these steps:
- Identify interview slots with the hiring team in advance.
- Prepare and send interview details, including date, time, and location/platform options.
- Have a standardized set of interview questions prepared.
- Create a positive candidate experience during the interview, engaging in meaningful conversations.
- Gather feedback from interviewers promptly after each interview.
- Collaborate with the hiring team to assess candidate fit.
- Provide timely communication to candidates about next steps and outcomes.
4. How soon should I schedule interviews after receiving applications?
Acting promptly is crucial to attract top talent. Aim to schedule interviews as soon as possible after receiving applications. Prompt communication and quick scheduling demonstrate your organization’s efficiency and respect for candidates’ time. Ideally, try to schedule initial interviews within a week of receiving applications to maintain candidate interest and engagement in the hiring process.