When the hiring process heats up, a cool down is key

In a previous blog, I discussed the Jim Collins advice we always follow in the hiring process: When in doubt, don’t hire. Keep looking. But how do we come to the consensus of certainty or doubt in the first place? Well, it’s a group effort that we like to call the “candidate cool down” session.

This group effort can be seen all the way through our unique 6-step recruiting process. The candidate not only meets the hiring manager, but potential coworkers within the department they are applying for as well as leaders and team members from other departments they could potentially work closely with if they are offered the role. Before the decision is made on whether or not to extend an offer to the candidate, all team members involved in the interview process gather together for a “candidate cool down” session.

The cool down should be held the same day as the final meeting (or as close to it as possible), should involve all interviewers, and should only take about 30 minutes. During this time, everyone involved gives his or her thoughts and whether they are a yes or no on moving forward with the candidate. We go around the room and have a very open and frank conversation.

One of the advantages of this group cool down is the amount of experience in the room. There could potentially be 20 to 50 years of hiring experience we can leverage, so any red flags can be talked through from experience. This can be a great tool, especially if the hiring manager is newer; they get the value of the wisdom of the room. Generally any red flags are noticed by multiple team members, and experience determines whether that makes candidates a hard no or if it is something to dig deeper in on reference checks.

Another key to the candidate cool down is to ensure the recruiter is in attendance because A: The recruiter has great feedback and B: When the recruiter’s in there, they start to get a good feel for what the manager is looking for in future hires. The discussions on things that are yellow flags and red flags—you want the recruiter to hear that so they can tailor their searches to include that information.

Feedback from the candidate cool down adds real power to the interview process. Ultimately, you hope that everyone has great feedback and it becomes apparent that the candidate is a great fit for the role in question. But sometimes it goes the other way, and having the discipline to take the extra step to meet as a group for the cool down has saved us a lot of time and remorse at bringing in the wrong candidate over the years.