What is a transparent interview (and should my company use one)?

Few people enjoy the interview experience, whether as candidate or interviewer. Could “transparent interviews” be a better way forward?

This new take on the traditional interview has been creating a bit of a buzz in recruitment in recent months.

But is a transparent interview something your business should utilise or expect your IT or engineering recruitment agency to use? Let’s take a look.

What is a transparent interview?

In a transparent interview, the candidate is provided with the list of interview questions they will be asked in advance.

Some proponents of transparent interviews suggest sending candidates only the broad topics that will be discussed. Others hand over the exact questions they intend to ask.

Both strategies can deliver some surprisingly beneficial results when used to recruit for many different types of engineering and IT jobs.

Why use transparent interviews?

1) Pressure and memory

Will the nature of the role you’re recruiting for require the candidate to recall information under pressure? If so, the traditional interview process may offer a good indication of their future performance.

If not, you may not learn much that’s relevant about a candidate by requiring them to remember things under interview conditions. There’s an excellent example of this in author Malcolm Gladwell’s work on the US LSAT (law school) exam.

Gladwell found that the exam optimised for “hares” (people who can process difficult problems quickly) when the job of being a legal professional needed “tortoises” (people who can focus long-term on a single problem).

2) Surprise vs planning

The requirements of the role you’re recruiting for should govern your interview process. Are you really looking for someone who can handle surprise questions? Or do you need someone who can plan how to accomplish a longer-term goal?

For example, if you are recruiting for a data engineer job, it’s unlikely you need someone who can react on-the-fly. Instead, you need someone who can deliver results after having time to reflect on information they’ve been given.

For some roles, you might want to test if a candidate is able to anticipate questions based on a job description. A traditional interview might be better here – but ideally this will be a planned metric you are testing on, not a default.

In other cases, a transparent interview will give a candidate the chance to use skills more like those they will actually use if you hire them.

3) Respect, time-wasting, and well-being

On top of not always being a good way to gain an accurate estimation of candidate suitability, organisations that prioritise the well-being of their team can find traditional interviews are at odds with the positive, inclusive, and supportive culture they are trying to build.

A transparent interview shows respect for a candidate’s time and doesn’t subject them to stress that can be completely unnecessary given the nature of the engineering or IT job you want them to do for you.

In return, having seen the interview questions they will need to answer, some candidates will withdraw from the process knowing they will not be able to answer them. This saves everyone a great deal of time.

Should your company use transparent interviews?

When recruiting for certain IT and engineering jobs, a transparent interview – or, at least, a more transparent process than is traditional – can have some serious benefits for prospective employers.

By reflecting on the skills you are recruiting for and matching your interview process to them – or knowing your recruiter will do so – you can gain a greater understanding of candidates’ qualities.

Plus, in a world where candidates with the right skills are at a premium, showing that you offer a role where you treat your team with respect right from the start offers benefits all of its own.

Need a specialist IT or engineering recruitment agency to help you find the ideal candidate for a role?

Let’s talk. Ernest Gordon uses market-leading AI recruitment technology to locate the best professionals from our extensive talent pool.

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