August 27, 2021

Additions to the Standard Interview: Site Visits

The Managers’ Corner:

Essentially a site visit (which can de done in person or virtually) is a great way of watching people as they take you through part of their work day and work space. They can take you around the office and you can watch as they interact with people. They can show you and talk about projects they are working on and perhaps have someone incidentally (it is supposed to be very informal) respond to some of your questions as they do so and you can also get a view of how candidates organize their work space and why. In other words, it’s an opportunity to see candidates in situ and, in that way, hear what they say, see what they show about themselves and see and hear others talk about the candidates. 

If that sounds a bit odd, think about the kinds of “examinations” some trades people go through for purposes of certification. For years, trades people have been “examined”on the job as an official from the union, a professional association or the Ministry of Labour seeks to determine what they can do by watching and chatting and asking questions right in the middle of the work place. It’s a “show and tell” exhibition which can be very revealing.

In order to make a site visit as productive as possible, it is best to have the candidates determine what the agenda is. Communication before the visit must stress the fact that candidates are in charge of organizing the visit. Much can be revealed by the candidates’ choice of what they want to highlight — and what they don’t, and whom they want observers to speak to — and to whom they don’t. 

All of this can be judged within the context of the job description and the requirements set out in the job advertisement. For instance, if the ad or the job description emphasizes the need to work as a member of a team, an assessor should legitimately expect to hear from or see in action the way candidates work with others on a project. If one of the criteria is organization and planning, they might want to see evidence of long-range plans – and the list goes on.

The site visit does not need to be overly long in duration — perhaps an hour at most — but think about how much more is revealed by watching and listening to candidates, speaking briefly to co-workers and examining venues as well as artifacts that are shown. It is a case of drawing information from people, places and paper at the same time from a variety of sources. It is multi-faceted data gathering at its best.

One of the drawbacks in a site visit is its public nature which means that it might not be suitable for all situations. If candidates do not want their employers to know about an impending departure, then clearly a site visit is out of the question. On the other hand, if the position is for internal candidates, then a site visit is a veritable laboratory of information that can be scanned by trained observers who have been furnished with a clear list of indicators, as always, based on the job description that can be used for assessment purposes.

Want to know more about Bendel’s work in this area?  Why not contact us and we can send you a two-page outline that will help you understand how this relatively uncommon but revealing process can tell you. And it sure beats listening to pat responses to traditional questions in the standard interview. There’s more to data gathering than simply listening to what candidates have to say about themselves. This form of data-gathering is a very fertile source of information in a relatively short period of time. Why not introduce it into your managerial selection process?

Dr. Dan