I was chatting to my father over the weekend about his experiences of job “interviews” in the 1960’s when he first left college. Morose interviewers firing open questions over an imposing oak desk whilst portraying the demeanor of a disinterested headmaster thinking “why on earth should I bother giving you a job?”.
This kind of arrogant interview style was commonplace where there is a rich choice of candidates to employ; where jobs are few and interviewees are plentiful.
Fast-forward to 2014 and the vast majority of the market sectors we operate in genuinely struggle to identify and recruit the best people. A shortage of highly skilled people coupled with an improving economy and falling unemployment makes the battle for talent even more intense.
It may surprise you to read that even now, a frightening number of companies and hiring managers still interview candidates with the attitude of “I’m doing you a favour coming to work for me”.
It’s an accepted fact of life that job seekers have to be enthusiastic, well prepared and articulate at interview, with the very best interviewees having a clear ability to articulate why they are the best fit for that particular job. Interviews are simply a “sales process”, and the individual who has the best presentation and sells themselves most effectively in the eyes of the hirer will be offered the job.
Conversely – the shrewd hirer also realizes that it’s a 2-way process to get the best people. They must prepare professionally and present their company and job as being the right fit for the candidate and a great career move. Face-to-face interaction and a real concern to ensure that the candidates needs are met at two of the key attributes to getting the best people into the right job. Fail to prepare – prepare to fail.
So – a useful tick-list to prepare and execute the perfect interview (as a hirer) is:
- Read the candidates’ CV fully & note down any questions. Reading the CV for the first time in the initial 2 minutes of the interview is unprofessional, not acceptable and is the single biggest candidate moan following a bad interview.
- Pre-conceived perceptions can be very damaging. Conduct each interview as if the candidate is ideal for the job. On many occasions we’ve experienced interviewers who are initially luke-warm to a candidate having read their CV, but then half-way through the interview that the candidate is ideal. The problem is that initial 30 minutes of disinterest has put the candidate off and it can be very difficult to salvage the situation.
- Treat the interview more like a “discussion” than an examination. Most candidates are nervous and the more you can do to quell these nerves the better chance you have of the candidates true abilities coming out. Far too many great interviewers turn out to be average employees.
- It is imperative you can answer the question “Why should this person join our company” – and that you convey this fully during the interview. It’s much easier rejecting a keen candidate, than wanting to recruit someone who isn’t “sold” on your company. Again – treat every candidate as is you are interviewing the ideal candidates that you must hire.
- Ask challenging, scenario based questions relevant to the job requirements. Avoid “stock questions” as it’s easy for a good interviewee to rehearse answers. Test the interviewees reactions to common situations experienced in the job and “role-play” can be a very powerful tool.
- Always follow up on interviews – particularly if the candidate is not successful. Company PR is very valuable – and we have a lot of experience of companies that interview candidates then don’t follow up; so when they want to recruit in the future candidates’ won’t attend interview due to their reputation as a time-waster.