I was recently asked by a local journalist for a soundbite on speed interviewing. This is apparently one of the latest job hiring strategies to hit the job market and is seemingly being adopted by an increasing number of companies. The process, pretty much like speed dating, allows both the interviewee and hiring company to assess their potential match. It also exposes the applicant to a large number of hiring companies in a short space of time, as they rotate within a pre-arranged group of recruiters and hiring managers. All of this supposedly maximizes the candidate’s chance of receiving an offer. Speed interviewing is also a great money saver for any employers who want to meet as many candidates as possible in the least amount of time.
Because I’ve been around for a while, this type of interview process seems to me to be new speak for job fair, a system which was, and still is, commonly used to identify graduate potential at universities. I have attended many myself, on both sides of the counter. Typically, interviews last between 5 -15 minutes and allows large numbers of both candidates and employers to check each other out. At the higher end of the scale the hiring managers and employers are as much under scrutiny by the very top candidates, who usually have their pick of the best offers. As a student, I have vivid memories of the organisations getting the highest numbers, were the ones providing the best food. Apparently even today – pizza works.
I would say that the process has value to the extent that it gives a preliminary overview to both parties, based as it is, on first impression criteria only – such as physical presentation, body language, oral communication skills and so on. Any suggestion that this could be used as a substitute for an in-depth and thorough selection process – fills me with total horror. That was my sound bite! Do I think this is a valuable solution for busy people in today’s world? No I don’t. We spend about 2000 hours a year in the workplace. I think it’s a decision that should be made after careful consideration by both parties.
The thought that this process might be drifting off campus into mainstream recruitment is worrying and I spoke only the other day to a professional person in their early 30s, who recounted an interview experience which was not far removed from what I have just outlined. He described the process as “dehumanising”.
The major weakness of this process, is that a little like it’s namesake ” speed dating“, it’s based on the chemistry between the individuals involved on the day, in that 15 minutes. So in a romantic context, it is highly unlikely that a couple would opt to move in together on the basis of a 15 minute conversation, no matter how well they hit it off. If the duo do get on, a second date would probably be the next step to progress the relationship. One would hope that corporations would exercise the same degree of caution. The risk of making a poor hiring decision leading to low retention rates and ineffective onboarding could be significantly increased. For any candidate, forced under pressure to make a hasty decision, the downsides can also be notable.
Nevertheless, if the system leads to a second interview, it should be taken seriously by all concerned. If it doesn’t, the organisation in my book has question mark on it.
§ Appearance First impressions do count, especially when it comes to speed interviews. Candidates should dress as if they were going to a full interview.
§ Research the companies you wish to target and ask meaningful questions. It could save time later and getting caught up in low value processes or missing a great opportunity.
§ Get the recruiters contact details so you can send your CV by email. Connect with them online afterwards on a professional platform such as LinkedIn.
§ Bring a supply of copies of your resume for anyone who might want one, more than the number of people you have signed up to see. You just never know.
§ Prepare and practise your Elevator Soundbites – you may need several different versions depending on the number of companies you are meeting.
If you are offered a job on the spot, treat this like you would a date. Be flattered, but extremely cautious. You simply don’t know each other well enough to make any committment.
Or putting it another way: would you move in with someone you’d only known for 15 minutes?