If you think the best places to work are also the best places to interview at, you’re sorely mistaken.
Glassdoor, the employer review website that publishes an annual list of the U.S.’s top companies, recently released a list of the 50 best places to interview, and there is very little overlap between the two.
In fact, you’d have to scroll all the way down to the 42nd best place to work, Southwest Airlines, to find a company that made both lists (the airline was ranked as the seventh best place to interview).
Topping the list of companies that provide the best candidate experience is Cleveland-based paint company Sherwin-Williams, followed by Chicago-based accounting network Grant Thornton LLP in second and Peoria, Illinois-based construction equipment company Caterpillar Inc. in third.
Rounding out the top 10 are BNY Mellon, J. Crew, H&R Block, Southwest Airlines, Ernst & Young, Walt Disney Company, and PricewaterhouseCoopers.
"Companies on this list have a few things in common," says Lisa Holden, Glassdoor’s employer engagement manager. "We see a lot of feedback pointing to informative interviewers, consistency across locations and transparency throughout the process."
The list was based on more than 300,000 interview reviews submitted through the website over the past 12 months, collecting feedback from candidates on the overall interview experience, the questions asked, and their level of difficulty. In order to be considered, companies had to receive at least 100 ratings, have at least 1,000 employees, and receive an average positive review experience score higher than 82%.
"Our methodology accounts for difficulty and duration by industry," says Holden. "This allows us to assign an expected duration and difficulty level to each industry, and compare companies to that expectation. The companies featured on this list exceed that expectation and thus are the leaders in their industries."
The fact that most of the country’s top employers didn’t make the list of best places to interview points to a gap between how job candidates are treated in comparison to actual hires, says Holden.
"We’re all familiar with the famous perks that companies like Google and Facebook offer their employees, but when it comes to the candidate experience, neither organization appears on the list," she says. "For Facebook, this is because the company had a below-average percentage of positive experience during the period of eligibility," Holden explains, "When it comes to Google, other companies outshined when compared for optimal interview difficulty and duration."
The list is instead dominated by retail companies, 16 of which made the top 50, including Publix (11th), DSW (18th), Old Navy (20th), American Eagle Outfitters (24th), and the Gap (25th).
"Retail is traditionally a tough industry to work in—and we see that feedback show up in the form of Glassdoor reviews. However, the retailers on this list get high marks for offering a consistent, friendly, and transparent job-interview experience," says Holden. "These are big companies with hundreds and in some cases thousands of locations, and at that size they’re challenged to create a consistent experience across all locations," she says.
There is, however, some justification for providing a more rigorous interview process, as it tends to result in a better employee experience later on, explains Holden.
"Recent Glassdoor economic research finds that more difficult job interviews are statistically linked to higher employee satisfaction," she says. "A 10% more difficult job interview process is associated with 2.6% higher employee satisfaction later on."
Holden adds that there is a limit to this strategy, as an extremely difficult interview process might turn away some of the better candidates. "On a five-point scale, the optimal interview difficulty that leads to the highest employee satisfaction is four out of five," she says.
Holden does warn, however, that a lackluster interview process can damage an employer brand and significantly limit their ability to find and hire the best candidates.
"The interview is one of the first steps in an employee’s journey through an organization," she says. "Companies on this list start their employees off on the right foot," Holden adds, "and are in a better position to maintain a quality employee journey throughout the remainder of their time together."