Recently, after interviewing a candidate, they sent us this note:
Thanks for taking the time and effort for such a comprehensive interview, where I think I came out ahead even if I don't get any work from Aquent, since I learned quite a bit! You are to be commended for your interviewing technique and skill, and you certainly stand out from a crowd.
Let's face it: Interviews are stressful. You're putting yourself on the line and effectively asking someone to judge you. This is not anyone's idea of fun!
So how can it be that someone we interviewed found the process so valuable that they were willing to thank us for the experience?
Assessment vs. Evaluation
While there is an element of evaluation in our screening process, we prefer to look at it in terms of assessment: We want to take stock of your skills and experience so we have the best possible sense of the positions for which you would be best suited.
In other words, it's not about passing judgment (who wants that anyway?) and much more about getting a good picture of the full range of your capabilities. Furthermore, we strive to put these capabilities in context for you. We understand creative and digital career paths. So, based on where we know your skills are, we can make informed recommendations as to what you should do to take your skills to the next level.
This last part is what makes our assessment process not only valuable to our clients, but also valuable to our candidates. When you leave an interview with some clear insight into what you can do and what you COULD do, given the right training and work opportunities, then the interview teaches you, and not just the interviewer, something important about yourself.
A Comprehensive Approach
In order for an interview to have this kind of value, however, it needs to be thoroughgoing and comprehensive.
For this reason, our process actually has several different components.
On the one hand, we want to get to know you as a person and to understand things like your communication style, your preferred work environment, and how effectively you collaborate with others. To that end, we've developed a structured interviewing format that allows us to capture this kind for information in a consistent manner from one candidate to the next.
On the other hand, we want to know what you can do and what you have done in a professional context. To get at that, if you are a designer or a copywriter, we conduct a detailed review of your portfolio, delving into the specific role that you played in the creation of each piece as well as the impact each piece had on your client's business.
Similarly, if you are a marketer, we want to review the projects you've undertaken and the programs you've overseen. We want to know specifically what business objectives these projects and programs were meant to achieve and what ultimately resulted from them.
Finally, if you are a front-end developer, interactive designer, or production artist, we want to see samples of your work but we also want to see what you can actually do with the tools and technologies employed in your area of expertise. For these purposes, we have developed challenging, hands-on skill assessments that ask you to use the appropriate tools to complete specific tasks.
In addition, we also enlist our network of subject matter experts to perform code reviews and conduct technical interviews with candidates, particularly in the realm of front-end development. Candidates frequently find this time spent with our subject matter experts to be the most valuable part of the whole process.
One goal of our assessment process is, as I've said, to provide the candidate with a kind of benchmark of their skills: Where do they sit on the continuum of professional experience and ability and what do they need to do to advance their careers?
To help candidates take these next steps, we try to find work opportunities that will provide them with the on-the-job experience that will take them to the next level. We also offer ongoing training through Aquent Gymnasium.
Of course, we are not always able to find the exact right fit for every candidate we interview. And we might not (yet) have the exact training that this or that candidate requires to develop the needed skills.
For this reason, we strive to make the interviewing and assessment process as meaningful as possible and, in fact, an important part of every candidate's ongoing career journey.