"Thank you very much for the help you have offered. When I first contacted you through email, I was really surprised at how quickly you got back to me. The position you found for me fits me perfectly well, and I like it very much. Throughout the process, you have been so helpful, liaising very professionally and efficiently. Thank again for all you have done."Underground Production Geologist, South Perth
Employers: The Interview Process
(April 2012)If you have been reading the last few blogs (and if not, why not?!), you will have gained some insight into how to prepare yourself for the interview process. We have suggested how to present yourself, how to deal with the question and answer process, how to conduct yourself throughout and so on. This has been all about how you present your wares to the customer, but what, actually, does the customer want?
The customer, of course, is the potential employer and he or she will have very specific ideas (and, to be fair, personal views) about what the ideal employee will bring to the company. Each side needs to come away from the interview process feeling better than they did before. If they do, then employment is likely to follow. And to help in the process, the rest of this blog is directed toward the employer, i.e., the interviewer.
One problem for companies is that, in times of expansion, a large number of new staff may be needed, but the basic skill set required of a new employee may be suitable for several different positions. The interviewer will therefore need to be well briefed by management as to the intended structure of the new, enlarged, workforce and how the different parts will inter-relate. Only then can the interviewer devise an interview strategy, to enable him or her to identify the candidates that are needed.
Before the interview takes place, the interviewer will have seen the CVs for the various candidates, and initial judgements will, inevitably, be made. Hopefully, he or she will also have read our blog 'The lies that job-seekers tell', dated 25.9.2010.
Of course, each candidate will have polished their CV, often with the help of a recruiter, and whilst CVs are often fairly uniform in style, they can still reveal much useful data, often as much by what they don't say as by what they do.
For instance, you can immediately be suspicious of a work history that has gaps in it and, if the candidate is in other respects attractive enough for you to offer an interview, then you are entitled to, and must, ask probing questions until you are satisfied that you have the full picture.
How should you, as the interviewer, deal with the candidate during the interview/s? Always with propriety, of course, and always bear in mind that, in the candidate's eyes, how you behave is how the company will behave if they get the job. Indeed, in some ways you are the biggest advert for your company during the interview, and whilst the candidate will not necessarily be drawn to the company by your display of courtesy and so on, any rudeness or indifference from you will certainly tell the candidate that yours is not the company to join.
So, here are a few basic points for you to think about:
- Make sure you have done your research on the interview process itself. Increasingly, companies are having to broaden their approach and be flexible over what they want from the candidate, simply because an expanding jobs market makes it more difficult to get the traditional 'right fit'. You therefore have to look more innovatively at the skill and character sets required because, if you don't, you will find it difficult to keep people in their new jobs. And we all know how much time, money and effort is involved, and therefore wasted, in hiring and training someone who doesn't last the course.
- When you schedule the interview, stick to the date and time unless you absolutely have to change it. If you keep re-scheduling, at best you look disorganised. At worst, you look both rude and uninterested.
- If you receive any pre-interview phone calls or emails from the candidate, you must answer them, for exactly the same reasons.
- If you find that the CV is hard to read, or that it contains significant spelling or grammar mistakes, beware! Remember that this should be the candidate's best attempt to convince you to employ them and, if it really is the best the candidate can produce then what problems are you likely to have when you employ them?
- Just as you will expect a candidate to be courteous toward you, during the interview, so too will the candidate expect similar consideration from you. In particular, be careful to make sure that your questions are relevant, and do not stray into the realms of the over-familiar or inappropriate. In any event, some topics are a definite 'no go' area, such as those dealing with marital status, sexual orientation and the like, and the legal ramifications are both well-known and, potentially, severe.
- If you ask a question, listen to the candidate's answer! Candidates should be well-prepared, but they are sometimes keen to demonstrate their familiarity with key words and phrases, and will sometimes 'twist' their answer to make sure that these words and phrases are included. So if you hear phrases such as “corporate values”, “leadership style”, “team commitment” and so on, you may need to probe a bit deeper, just to ascertain what the candidate's true feelings and motivations are.
- Candidates will, of course, be nervous during the interview and this is good because it helps them to focus better on what is required. Because of nerves, however, candidates will often make a mistake of some sort. This doesn't matter, but it does give you a chance to see how well they recover from the mistake. You will then get a better idea of the candidate's real mettle, and how they are likely to perform in a real-life situation.
- The well-prepared candidate will anticipate that behavioural or situational questions are likely to form part of the interview, and many will have prepared themselves by thinking of examples of past achievements and unique selling points. This need not negate value of this approach, however, especially if you ask some 'what if?' questions (for example, you can describe an imaginary incident and ask “ what if this situation came up? How would you deal with it? What knock-on effects would follow from your actions and how would you deal with those?”)
- Try asking a candidate what they identify as their major weakness, and how they have dealt with this. Ideally, a candidate will be able to demonstrate that, in identifying and then overcoming the weakness, they have become stronger and/or better in some way. This will be another indicator as to how they will conduct themselves in their work, and how they deal with problems.
- In some cases, especially at second or subsequent interviews, role-play can be very helpful. It not only puts candidates into a 'real life' situation, as far as your business is concerned, but it also highlights how they deal with people who may well be part of the team for which they may be working, how they fit into the company's ethos and how adept they are at coping with spontaneous situations under pressure.
If there is anything that we haven't covered, or you would like more detail on anything we have mentioned, then please contact us at Skye Recruitment – we're always happy to help.