Interview Processes That Candidates Won’t Hate

If employers were compensating candidates for their time during interviews and assessments–how long would their interview process be? 

Just this week, we’ve seen a candidate pull out of the interview process at the final rounds with her top choice company because their final interviews were more time than she could afford to dedicate. The next day, she landed a job $20k over the range listed for that role with only a two step interview process. 

It is a very competitive talent market right now. Candidates with in-demand skills are getting offers very quickly. We are urging hiring managers to audit your interview processes. If you were a candidate, how would this process make you feel? Unless you can say it would make you ecstatic to join the team– there is work to be done!

Frustrations are high when it comes to long, drawn-out interview processes. Here are the most frequent grievances we are hearing from women in the Lady Bird Talent community:

  • Taking time away from work and family for 5+ meetings is adding strain to their daily lives.
  • Take home assessments are very time consuming and they feel like they are doing free work. 
  • Employers are modeling their interview processes after giant tech companies, but salaries pale in comparison. 
  • The reasons they do not receive an offer are things that were discussed in the first interview (industry experience, location, specific technical hard skills.) There was no need for them to invest the extra hours for the employer to reach that decision. 


As a community first organization, we’re really empathetic with these pain points of job seekers, but what can actually be done? Here are a few tips for employers from our time spent partnering with early stage startups in their hiring process.

Pay candidates for sample work

I am surprised how rare it is to see job postings letting candidates know they will be compensated for their time, especially regarding projects and assessments.

Knowing that a company is willing to pay can ease a candidate’s concerns around “doing work for free,” and in many cases can break down barriers to participating in the interview process. If someone is an hourly employee or has to pay for childcare, interviewing can be an expense that may not fit their personal situation. 


With resources on the line, the associated costs can help hiring managers decide if moving forward is a good investment. If meeting with this candidate doesn’t seem worth money now, why would it when they are an employee? 


We’re aware this will increase your hiring budget, but if you can’t afford to compensate for a day or hour of a candidate’s time– do you have the financial foundation needed to bring them onboard? Or worse, eat the cost of making the wrong hire?

Be upfront about the time commitment

Save everyone’s time. Post your interview process or include it in the communication when requesting your first interviews. If a candidate knows they have a personal boundary of only giving 2 interviews, but your team is committed to a 4 step process, no one benefits from putting them through the first 2 interviews.

We’ve seen some amazing interview guides for candidates created in Notion. Use their free platform to create clear documentation of the interview process. Tell them who they will meet, what to expect, and what the purpose of that interview is.  One great example even broke down industry-related jargon so the candidates felt fluent in the conversation. Set people up for success! 


Make meetings a priority for your team

In scaling companies, it can feel like everyone is busy. However, if you expect a candidate to rearrange their life to make your interview a priority, your team should too. Last-minute cancellations, getting slotted into weird time increments between executives’ meetings, and talking about your future with distracted interviewers is a terrible experience for a candidate. 


Proactively block time on your team’s calendars each week to dedicate to filling the role. It can simplify scheduling next steps when things go well with a candidate. If a candidate doesn’t move to next rounds, we’ve yet to hear a startup team member complain about an unexpected bonus hour for heads-down work.

Give options

One of the positive outcomes of a multi-step interview process is a chance for the candidate to meet more of the team. If multiple interviewers will ask repetitive questions, give the candidate an option to participate in a panel interview or break those up into 1:1 calls. Some people will thrive in a group dynamic and appreciate the time efficiency, while others will see 1:1 conversations as more beneficial. 


Consolidate interview steps 

Look for stages in the interview process that you can eliminate or combine.

Is an exercise really helping you assess success in the role? If not, do not require it.

Is the screening call delivering the same information as the first interview? Then get deeper into skills and role fit in the first interview.

Is presenting the assessment the point when the decision is made on an offer? Then cut the final.

The goal is to optimize, not shortening or lengthening the process.

Have different processes for different levels

Interviewing for an entry-level position and a C-Suite executive role should look very different. We recommend 2 steps for a junior role and no more than 4 steps for a senior role with the opportunity to meet more of the team. Work with your team to design processes for each level in your organization.

Give feedback throughout the process

Everyone is getting to know each other in the interview process. Chances are the candidate doesn’t know exactly what hiring managers are looking for. Be clear about indicators of success and any concerns you may have about a candidate’s abilities at each stage.

Knowing what you are assessing can help them respond with more relevance, show their willingness to research and learn, and evaluate for themselves if this is the right role for them. Feedback is an important part of the team working dynamic, don’t wait until someone is on payroll to begin to build that relationship. 

Lady Bird Talent partners with early-stage startups to help build their founding teams. From designing interview processes to sourcing candidates, we’re here to help your team create an interview process that will attract talented women+ candidates to your team. Learn more about Hiring With Us. 

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