Over the three months to May this year, Antler Australia recruited 71 founders from ~1,000 applicants to join its inaugural program in Sydney. (For more on that click here.)
It was an intense interviewing period which tested my skills as a recruiting professional with almost a decade worth of experience hiring across c-suite, tech, and operations for BCG Digital Ventures, SafetyCulture, fintechs and global banks.
As a part of this recruiting drive, I personally conducted almost 300 interviews, some weeks conducting 10 interviews per day. We implemented a robust end-to-end process to ensure the journey was streamlined, straightforward, and most importantly capturing the top talent.
Many of the conversations I had during this time got me thinking about how important it is for the interviewee to listen to the question and answer it directly as possible.
There is a carefully constructed process that internal talent teams define to assess if a candidate's skills and experience are aligned to the vacant role's key requirements. Each stage is designed to not overlap another stage, so that aspects of the job description are covered without the interviewee having to be asked the same question multiple ways. Or, to borrow a term from my management consultant colleagues, the process follows the MECE framework, meaning the stages are ‘mutually exclusive, collectively exhaustive’.
Therefore, the best advice I can offer someone going into an interview is simply ‘answer the question being asked’. Behind each stage is a scorecard for the interviewer to complete, based on the candidate's answers, to enable them to pass them through to the next round, or hopefully, the offer.
To explain this further, I’ve listed an example interview flow for a Product Manager and ours at Antler, with focus areas, questions and tasks.
Now that you can visualise the way an interview process is designed here are some pointers. A question I will ask in Antler recruiter interviews is ‘tell me about a professional success, giving metrics and the impact it had on the business’. A good answer is ‘I lead the team that developed a new product feature which enabled customers to navigate our app more effectively. This led to customer drop off rates decreasing by 30% and the overall spend in the app increasing 20% each month since implementation’. I would then deep dive into what their personal contribution was, but great, success told and measured! Too often I receive the answer ‘I am the conduit between technology and the business’. While yes, that is valuable skill it did not answer my question and no metrics were given.
A trap candidates often fall into is listing product features over their contributions. During peak interview times at Antler interviews are back to back to handle the volume so we ridgely stick to time slots. When you have 30 or 45 mins, do not use up too much of this valuable time describing what your company does. Yes, of course set the situation, but be mindful of talking product features and benefits so it becomes a product pitch not an interview. If this happens the interviewer will not have received the information that stage of the process was designed for and be able to pass the candidate through to the next.
It is also becoming increasingly important for candidates to precisely answer questions as the internal recruiting function is becoming highly data driven. Companies should be across key metrics, the main ones being ‘pass through rate’, ‘source quality’ and ‘time/cost per hire’. In what I am sharing here pass through rate is the most applicable. This is the number of candidates in a particular stage who are progressed to the next. A good ratio is 3:1, so for every three candidates interviewed one is passed through. Internal recruiting teams will keep a very close eye on their recruiting funnel monitoring how candidates are progressing from one stage to the next. If, for example, in the Antler funnel 80% are progressing from Recruiter Interview to Spike Interview it is showing the Recruiter Interview needs to become more of an effective filter and so the questions will be changed to achieve this. In companies with strong recruiting functions they are monitoring this and adjusting questions accordingly. It really is all about the questions so the candidates need to answer on precisely what is being asked is paramount.
It may sound simple but listening to the question being asked and answering it directly is definitely a skill. Hopefully this glimpse into the recruiter’s mind and back-end interview flows will show why it is needed.
This article was written by Adele Moynihan, Director of Recruiting at Antler in Sydney.