Job Seekers Rank These Companies as Best Places to Interview

Great applicant experience also helps employers choose best new hires

By Roy Maurer Sep 23, 2016
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Job seekers said their favorite companies to interview with were honest and friendly, according to Glassdoor's Candidates' Choice Awards for the Best Places to Interview in 2016.

The annual ranking of the 50 employers with the highest interview scores is based on input from candidates who anonymously submitted reviews on the Glassdoor employer review site.

Instead of being intimidated, job seekers said they found interviewing at the winning employers—such as paint company Sherwin-Williams and accounting firm Grant Thornton—to be a friendly, upfront and honest experience. They described interviewers as "super down to Earth" and approachable.

An audit associate candidate from Boston said that the candidate reception at Grant Thornton the night prior to the interview was "very helpful because I was able to meet the people interviewing me, establish a connection before the interview, and got to know more about them on a personal level."

A customer-care representative candidate from Chicago described the interview experience at Southwest Airlines as "totally the opposite of regular corporate, uptight interviews." Upon arriving, the candidate was "taken into a fun, colorful room to take selfies" before beginning a conversation with the hiring manager. 

"The interview process is crucial to finding the best qualified candidate for the job and one who would be the greatest asset to the organization as a whole," said Kristi Jones, talent acquisition manager for H&R Block, the world's largest tax services preparer, based in Kansas City, Mo. "This is a first impression of your company and one that a candidate will remember and share with friends and family. Turnover is expensive so you want to get it right the first time."

Rod Adams, U.S. recruiting leader for consulting firm PwC, headquartered in New York City, emphasized that first impressions matter for both parties.

"Most of the time, the interview is the first opportunity a candidate has to speak formally with a potential employer about his or her skills and experience," Adams said. "While the candidate may be sweating, the company is also under a microscope during the interview process. Each one is working to wow the other."

According to Glassdoor ratings, the top 10 best places to interview with in 2016 are:

  1. Sherwin-Williams
  2. Grant Thornton
  3. Caterpillar
  4. BNY Mellon
  5. J. Crew
  6. H&R Block
  7. Southwest Airlines
  8. EY
  9. Walt Disney Co.
  10. PwC

The list was compiled using Glassdoor's proprietary algorithm to calculate interview scores, which take into account overall experience, interview difficulty and duration. Glassdoor received more than 300,000 interview reviews between the eligibility timeframe of July 6, 2015 and July 5, 2016. 

How to Improve the Interview Process

The growing use of data analytics on candidate experiences, hiring decisions and on-the-job performance is opening up great opportunities to make hiring more effective, said Andrew Chamberlain, chief economist at Glassdoor.

According to Chamberlain, improvements to the interview process could include:

  • Sharpening interview difficulty and focusing on testing specific on-the-job skills.
  • Moving toward standardized interview questions to reduce interviewer bias.
  • Cutting unnecessary screening rounds that add to hiring delays.
  • Using data, experimentation and statistical methods to study what actually works and doesn't in company interview processes. "Human resources has lagged behind, in terms of using A/B testing and data to make smarter hiring decisions," he said.

Tips from the Winners

For the interview process to be a successful experience for both candidates and employers, top-rated companies say providing a positive experience, putting candidates at ease, helping candidates prepare for the interview and offering a realistic job preview are vital. 

"You want to give a positive impression of the company regardless of whether the person actually gets hired," Jones said. "At H&R Block we treat every candidate like they could be a potential client."

Southwest Airlines only hires about 3 percent of their applicants. "Even though we can't select everyone who applies for a position, we still want them as customers or to reapply with us," said Shari Conaway, director of people at the airline.

Conaway said that a reception team greets candidates to make them feel more comfortable and take the edge off. "Our recruiters realize that it won't be a great interview if someone is so nervous. Making somebody comfortable is our top priority, so that when they interview they can be themselves. We want to see their true personality and work ethic."

Preparing for the interview and ensuring that the candidate is prepared is also key. "When a job is opened [at H&R Block], we set up a hiring manger kickoff meeting where we go through every detail from the job description and compensation to who's on the interview team and structure of the interview," Jones said. HR then creates a customized interview guide for recruiters and hiring managers to ensure a more consistent process. The company also sends candidates a detailed interview schedule with directions, interviewer names, titles and departments encourages them to research the hiring managers on LinkedIn.

Southwest shows ramp agent interviewees a detailed video of what it's like to be a ramp agent, and takes call center candidates on a tour of the call center to see what the work environment is like.   

"In order to ensure that the interview process is a win-win for both the candidate and the employer, it's critical for the employer to be transparent about the role and the responsibilities of the position," said Dan Black, Americas head of recruiting for consulting firm EY. "While Millennials and Generation Z are assertive and confident, they also value flexibility and opportunities where they can make a difference, so employers should be upfront about key benefits and the total rewards that they offer."   

At PwC, interviewers ask questions designed to help them understand what makes a candidate tick, Adams said. "We're interested in much more than professional or educational accomplishments. We're digging to find out what makes an individual unique and what experiences have shaped who he or she is as a person."

Southwest uses a combination of behavior and motivation-based interview questions. Interviewers ask for very detailed answers about past behavior but also look at a candidate's motivation. "We look for candidates with a great attitude, because we hire for attitude and train for skill," Conaway said. "You can't train someone to be nice."

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