Between #MeToo, Time’s Up and the buzz around equal pay, it’s been quite the year for women in the workplace. But in my role heading up Talent Acquisition, I see there is still much we can do to remove obstacles and biases that prevent women from achieving all that they can. One way to make a difference? Helping women bring their transparent selves into the interview process. Not only will this lead to a more satisfying candidate experience — it can ultimately raise their retention rates.
I’ve trained countless teams to put candidates at ease and use behavior-based interview methodologies to glean real stories from their career history, all geared at bringing a candidates’ true self into the process. After more than two decades of interviewing, it still surprises me that candidates spend more time selling themselves in the interview process than showing their true selves. Our process still seems designed to force candidates to over-index on selling versus authenticity.
So how do we hire great women? How do we make sure there are mechanisms in place to ensure we can attract talented women into the hiring process, get them to accept roles and ultimately be successful in our companies? While Glassdoor is made up of 50 percent women and women hold leadership positions throughout our organization, I believe our process can still evolve to help us identify when the right person truly fits the position.
I’d like to explore some ways we may enhance our interview process to allow us to widen our lens, hire more diverse candidate pools and allow our great candidates to know they are picking the right role. I wish that, much like me when I started my role at Glassdoor, other women could start their new positions knowing they had asked the right questions and had stepped into a role that is perfect for them.
1. Think About How We Find our Candidates
The recruiting process is tired, and I’d argue ineffective. We write a job description and post it. We reach out to candidates based on that set of specs and pitch them, asking for engagement on a very specific set of tasks. Yet we know from studies that women will generally only apply for roles where they feel 100 percent qualified. How many amazing women are we turning away by limiting ourselves to a list of requirements in a job description?
2. Encourage Teams to Open Up Their Lens
Whether it’s in the writing of the job description or just being open to great candidates however they come to us, we need to encourage our teams to think more broadly. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “Why can’t we find A-players?” but when we’re recruiting for roles, hiring teams are not generally open to looking outside the target candidate. We can help our teams to be opportunistic — think about arming your recruiters with an “If you ever see this” list of skills or target companies to allow great candidates to come into the mix anytime we meet them.
3. Prepare Your Candidates to Be Fully Informed
At Glassdoor, we talk a lot about the informed candidate. Candidates have more resources than before to learn not just about the company and the role, but also about the culture and work environment. We keep our professional networks intact through social tools, so candidates can often find at least one person who can tell them what it’s really like to work at our companies.
The interview process can be scary; picking a new job is a big decision. While some people are fine making decisions with their gut, others make long lists and spend days going through pros and cons before feeling comfortable enough to make a choice. We can encourage our candidates to ask the right questions in the process to make sure they leave with all the information they’ll need. When your candidate is fully informed, there is a much higher chance of retention.
[Related: How to Recruit Informed Candidates at Scale]
4. Implement a Realistic Job Preview on All of Your Roles
Some teams are quite good at preparing tests or case studies which replicate the day-to-day environment. Others may have these same steps covering some basic questions that test candidates — I’m thinking of multiple layers of personality profiles for sales roles, or basic whiteboarding for engineering — without giving candidates a true feeling of what it would be like to work with your team. I’ve found the best examples present the candidate with realistic problems, and challenge them to solve them (or discuss solutions) with the teams they’d work side by side within their new role. Enough of the “What would you do” questions — let’s show our candidates that they will love their challenging new role.
Many of us are working on bringing in diverse talent pools, and specifically bringing strong women into our companies. Building diverse teams allows us to design better products, appeal to wider customer bases and make better business decisions. The more we can do to allow these candidates to enter into our interview process — and self-select out, too — the better chance we will have to recruit and retain amazing candidates, regardless of gender.