Scheduling Interview Best Practices

Finding time to schedule interviews

Once you’ve created and launched the job posting, take some time to assess the ebb and flow of your workweek before scheduling anything. Pay special attention to the days, or times of day, that is the busiest and when there are lulls. Find a day of the week that favors a slower or less hectic schedule. For example, if you typically have fewer meetings on Wednesdays or don’t roll out new systems or projects on Fridays, these may be good times to focus your interview blocks. Perhaps, your afternoons are more flexible than your mornings. Whatever the case may be, try to pinpoint the times when your schedule has the most breathing room and block them out for potential interviews.

Avoid scheduling interviews at the very beginning of your workday. Allow at least an hour after coming into the office to respond to time-sensitive issues and prepare yourself for your first candidate. For example, if you are scheduling interviews between meetings, try to have a 15–30 minute gap on either end in case your engagements run long. It is vital that you are prompt and on time for the interviews, you are hosting. Remember, interviews are a two-way street and are likely the candidate’s first personal interaction with you. They will be assessing you just as much as you are considering them. You want to make the best impression possible and show that you value and respect them.

Scale down your candidate list

Now that the resumes are in, you are ready to start the interview process. First things first, scale down your candidate pool. There’s no way you can meet everyone. It’s also improbable that every candidate is qualified for the position. Instead, narrow down your actual in-person (or zoom) interviews with a skills assessment test or a short phone interview. The filter you use in these early stages may vary depending on the technical aspect of the role or if the position is reliant on them interacting with clients over the phone.

Skills tests should be a brief assessment or questionnaire to get a feel for their capabilities in this role. Coordinate with them via email with instructions about accessing the questionnaire, assessment, or provide two or three available times for a 15–30 minute phone interview to narrow the field of applicants.

When conducting initial phone screenings, try not to have more than three or four phone calls a day to ensure each candidate is evaluated on their own merit and avoid overbooking your own schedule. Instead, have all of your interview questions, the job role, their resume and cover letter, and a list of predetermined times or days that you can offer to schedule an in-person interview. Then, go ahead and schedule a follow-up interview while you have them on the phone if they seem like a good candidate.

Creating an interview schedule

You may be interviewing, but you still have other work to do. Don’t let yourself fall behind on your regular tasks by overbooking interviews. Instead, schedule each in-person interview for 45 min to one hour; you don’t want to rush the conversation. Most likely, you will wrap up a few minutes early, but sometimes candidates have great questions that require in-depth answers, or they are highly personal, and the conversation may get derailed.

Allow 30 minutes between each interview, phone, zoom, or in-person meeting. This gap provides plenty of time to make notes, take a break to decompress, and still have a few minutes to prepare for your next engagement.

Like phone interviews, only schedule three or four per day, ideally no more than 12 per week. Any more and your candidates will start to blur together. Overloading your schedule will negatively impact your ability to remember and assess your candidates properly and may cause burnout on your end. If possible, meet with all potential candidates within the same two-week time span, and inform each candidate when you will be reaching back out to them. This will help prevent a back and forth of follow-up correspondence from clogging up your email and demonstrate how much you value their time; it will also send them off with an appreciation of your attention to detail and organizational skills.

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Shawna Lake

Shawna Lake

Founder of Deep End Talent Strategies-keeping job seekers and employers connected to what the other side needs and wants in today’s job market.