Creating a Selling Versus Screening Interview Process

by Steven Branstetter | 6/3/14

First interviews are always very interesting, both from a company and the candidate’s perspective. Both parties are not only trying to make a great first impression, but they are also feeling out a new opportunity. As a company, how do you handle this difficult situation and maintain control of the interview?

If you try to sell your company and the position too strongly, candidates may pass on your opportunity, as it may look too good to be true, or they feel overqualified. If you screen candidates too rigorously, are you are running the risk of scaring away a top candidate? Here is a simple strategy you can use to ensure you maintain control during your interview process.

Tailor your first interview to be more of a “meet and greet” format. Bring the candidate into your office, give them a tour, have them meet some of your staff, and talk about the many perks of working for your organization. You want to have them meet with a member of your leadership team that will be able to present your company in the most positive way. Their job in this interview is to “set the hook” and get them excited to come back for a 2nd interview or think positively about joining your organization. This is also your chance as a manager to do a quick spot check: did they come prepared, are they presentable, and did they arrive on time? Company culture is a big topic these days, and during this meet and greet interview you should be able to determine quickly if your candidate will be a potential fit.

If your candidate passes the first interview and you decide to bring them back for a second interview, now is the time to see if they are qualified for the position. If you were able to set the hook on the first interview correctly, the candidate is now extremely motivated to gain an opportunity with your organization. They will now be trying to sell themselves to you, and this will now put you in the driver’s seat. It similar to “good cop, bad cop,” as the first manager they meet with can hold their hand through the process and the other managers can ask the need-to-know, tough questions. This will also help you determine the professional level of a candidate as well. If a candidate feels after a first interview that they have the position in the bag they might show signs of laziness and complacency in the second interview. They might come less prepared for a second interview and I have even seen candidates change their attitude about a company altogether during the secondary interview. These are going to be things you want to bring to the surface, and find out during your interview process.

By maintaining the good cop, bad cop style, even if the candidate is discouraged after the second interview, you still have an internal leader to bring them back around. Be careful who you pick to play these positions, as it may affect future management styles and traits with possible new candidates. By doing this you have both sold the value of your organization and heavily screened the candidate, all while maintaining control of your interview process. This will surely help you attract top talent, while also hiring qualified professionals for your organization.

Steven Branstetter is an executive recruiter at Crawford Thomas, a nationwide executive recruiting firm based in Orlando, Fla., with offices in Houston, Dallas, Atlanta and Washington, D.C. He has extensive knowledge with recruiting in the office technology industry for both OEMs and independent dealerships. Branstetter can be contacted at 1-321-257-0811 or