Backstage at PetRelocation: Interviews and Philosophy
The PetRelocation Hiring Process
When speaking with potential candidates for our open positions at PetRelocation, we try to be transparent in answering their questions and to be open about the fact that we may take longer than other companies when determining who will be extended an offer of employment.
The reason for that? We are firm believers in the value of conducting group interviews as part of our hiring process.
What do we mean by ‘Group Interviews’?
If you’ve seen the movie Men in Black, think back to the scenes where Will Smith shows up to find six military guys waiting in the same room, seated in very uncomfortable egg-shaped chairs. They take a sealed booklet test and a marksmanship test.
At the end of the day, Will Smith proves that he has the observational, critical-thinking and decision-making skills to be offered the job. Our group interviews don’t have the same ‘save the world’ intensity, but given that PetRelocation wants to save the world for our clients when their pets are traveling the globe, choosing the right people to join our team is one of the most important decisions we make.
While our hiring team tries to connect with each job applicant swiftly when it comes to the initial resume review and scheduling a first phone interview, the slowdown in our hiring process occurs when it comes time for candidates to visit PetRelocation’s Austin headquarters. We conduct group interviews (3 to 5 candidates) an average of once a month, after blocking time on staff calendars to ensure that we have the right people in place to meet the applicants.
This means that a candidate who has excelled in the phone interview stage may be asked to wait for two or three weeks before moving forward with us. There are risks that we may lose a strong candidate to other Austin companies because of this timing, so upon occasion, we may revert to a traditional interviewing schedule – bringing one person into the office to meet with a succession of staff over a few hours – but that is a rare event.
Why have group interviews been effective for PetRelocation?
Since the managers see candidates on the same day, there is a reduced change of bias on the part of that manager. No one wants to be the person interviewed when a manager is having a bad day, but if it’s going to happen, by interviewing everyone on the same day the manager’s attitude is less likely to affect their recommendation to hire or not.
By comparing applicants side by side, our hiring team is also able to better assess for potential cultural fit with the company. At this stage this is a critical factor in our decision making. It’s also fairer to the candidates than asking a manager to remember the person they met last week and then measure them against the person they just met an hour ago.
Candidates gain additional insight to the company and can determine if our philosophy, our goals and our culture amount to something they are looking for in their next job.
Given that so many of our positions are client-facing, being able to gauge how a person interacts with strangers, apply their problem-solving skills, use interpersonal communication skills and deal with stress are all great predictors of how they will fit in with our small team.
Scheduling group interview days are also cost-effective for the team. By planning in advance and talking to candidates in a group environment, we save time and dollars by enabling our team to reduce the number of hours taken away from their regular jobs.
Depending on specific needs, we may be searching for peers and co-workers or leaders and managers to join our team. This means the dynamics of each group interview session are never the same.
Sometimes we are looking to add three people to join our Client Care team (the logistical experts who handle everything from pet pick-up to delivery to your new home), or perhaps we also need to find a Professional Services Consultant who likes talking to people about the different plans we can create (and the benefits and drawbacks for each) so they can choose the one that is right for their unique circumstances.
Sometimes, there are times when a candidate’s diverse background and skills mean they could be a fit for more than one open position; we invite them to the group interview with one job in mind, and over the course of the day, discover they are actually a better fit for another department.
With that in mind, the best advice we can offer, other than to actively take part, is to be yourself. That’s the best way for you to determine if you will want to spend 40 hours a week in an office with our team, and it helps us assess the potential fit from our end, as well.