Interview Settings: Conducting Offsite Job Interviews
By: Dona DeZube, Monster Interview Expert
Small businesses are often busy places where every square foot of space counts. What’s often lacking is a quiet space to conduct an interview. Moving your interviews settings offsite can be a great solution.
Offsite interviews are also useful ways to fill a job in another city, recruit students or evaluate a candidate’s social skills.
Get the most from an offsite interview settings by heeding these five interview tips:
1. Put thought into your interview setting and strategy.
Keep offsite interviews in a public place where both you and the candidate are comfortable. Hotel suites or other “private” spaces are to be avoided.
“Choose a place where you can focus on the person,” says Peggy McKee, author of How to Ace Your Phone Interview and CEO of Career Confidential. A quiet restaurant or even a massive hotel lobby may work for conducting interviews. “If you have deeper pockets, renting a small conference room at the Holiday Inn Express is a nice touch,” says McKee.
Are you filling a position that involves entertaining clients? Conduct your offsite job interviews in a setting similar to the one where your firm entertains. An interview over dinner lets you see if the job seeker slurps his soup or if she can keep the conversation rolling in social situations.
Just because the interview is offsite, don’t assume you can go “business casual.” Take time for interview preparation as thoroughly as you would for an interview in the office. Review resumes and have a list of relevant, behavioral interview questions ready to go for each interviewee. “If someone puts you off your game, your preset questions become important,” McKee says.
Arrive early and let the facility know that you’re interviewing. That way, if candidates go up to the hostess at the restaurant or the manager at front desk, they’ll get directions to where you are.
2. Leave plenty of time between interviews.
You don’t want candidates stacked up in the lobby when you’re conducting an off-site job interview. Applicants could know one another, so scheduling job interviews to overlap could create a lapse in confidentiality that job seekers won’t appreciate. Schedule your interviews appropriately.
When conducting the interview, spend a minimum of 25 minutes with each candidate, no matter what. “It’s very important to realize you’re an ambassador for the company,” McKee says.
If you realize five minutes into the interview that the job seeker isn’t a good fit for your opening, talk about what your company does and what other opportunities might be available, she suggests. Remember that every candidate could someday become a customer -- or could be someone who will share their interview experience online.
3. Keep your guard up in social situations.
When you conduct interviews, you represent the company, so watch your manners and be polite and respectful to everyone you encounter. Your behavior represents your management style. For instance, if you’re surly toward the wait staff, job seekers may assume you’re going to be surly to them once they’re hired.
Skip the alcohol. No one gets more coherent as an interviewer by drinking. No messy food. No cursing.
4. Let them know you’re the one hiring.
Many candidates who attend job fairs only make recommendations may have interacted with recruiters who don’t have authority to hire, says Kelly N. Harris , director of Florida State University’s Career Center. Let the candidates you talk to know you’re the one making the hiring decision whenever you’re in an off-site interview setting. This will help engage the candidate and get their full attention.
You can do this subtly by phrasing the information as a question. I plan to make a decision about this position within the month. If I hired you, how long would it be until you could come on board with me?
5. Get out from behind your booth.
If you decide to participate in a college career fair, one of the worst things you can do is simply sit behind your table or booth and not engage the students, says Kelly Kochis, director of the Center for Career Education at Becker College in Worcester, Massachusetts.
“The employer needs to be out from behind the table and approaching the students,” she says. “A student who’s standing there looking at them wants to come up and talk to them and doesn’t know what to say. Come out and say, ‘Hi, let me tell you about my company.’”
Give yourself a leg up with college recruiting by having your own elevator speech in which you introduce and quickly explain what you’re company does, its company culture, unique benefits, staff development opportunities available at your company. If you’re a nonprofit, explain your company’s mission and purpose (if it’s not salary).
Conduct Off-Site Interviews, Reap Recruits
Following these five interviewing tips when you take your recruiting beyond the typical office interview setting can lead to some great hiring conversations.
By making the interview experience a good one for the applicant, you may also find you enjoy the novelty of off-site interviews, too.