If you want to ensure successful recruitment interviews there are a few things you need to think about beforehand. This will also help ensure that the best candidate accepts your job offer.
After many years of successful (and not always so successful!) recruiting, I can give you some tips on what works and what should be avoided. The three areas you need to focus on are your own behaviour and attitude; going the extra mile for your candidates; and remembering this is a marketing exercise as well as recruitment.
It ain’t what you do ….
The key to successful recruitment interviews is really down to your own behaviour and attitude. If you are bored and rushing to “get this over with”, then how can you expect the candidates to be interested in working with you? If you are arrogant and eager to show your superiority, then that ideal person will not be keen to accept your offer. It may sound obvious but social media is full of examples of very poor behaviour at interview.
The first thing to do is put the interviewee at their ease. Ask them about their journey, or talk about something innocuous like the weather, just to help them settle into the conversation. If they feel comfortable, you will get a far better picture of the real person.
… it’s the way that you do it.
Some simple tips are easy to implement and so obvious that you might assume everyone does them…. but they don’t!
- Don’t keep candidates waiting – they have given up their time to be at the interview, so the least you can do is respect that and keep to your timescale.
- Make sure you have read the information they have provided about themselves and you know a little about their background. The conversation will flow more easily if they think you are really interested in them.
- Give them time to answer your questions – don’t interrupt with your own assumptions about what they are saying.
- If you need more explanation about something they say, then ask for it. Don’t just write them off because they did not answer in the exact way you were expecting.
- Explain the process, so they know what to expect. This includes how long they will have to wait to hear the outcome.
- Give them a chance to ask questions. If they ask any you cannot answer, then get back to them after the interview with the answer.
- Put yourself in their shoes and treat them how you would like to be treated.
- Try to avoid making assumptions based on the way they look, their clothes, their accent, etc. Just concentrate on their skills and experience to do your job.
Walking the extra mile
If you really want to help your candidates to shine at interview, then there are extra things you can think about which may make life easier for them. I am sure you can also think of other things.
It is common for employers to hold all interviews for a job on one day, or at a set time of day. I understand – it needs to fit round all the other priorities you have. But spare some thought for your candidates. They will probably have to make specific arrangements to get to interview at the time, date and venue set by you. So try and be a little flexible over timing. Don’t expect people to be there ridiculously early or late in the day (unless that suits them as well). Don’t expect them to be there on Christmas Eve, or in the middle of another religious or cultural holiday period.
Don’t ignore the little things
You might find it pays to let people know about parking locally, whether they will have to pay for it; or about public transport options. Firstly, they need to know for the interview itself. Secondly, high parking charges or lack of public transport may be a reason why someone has to rule themselves out of the running for the job.
You might want to consider video or telephone interviews, at least as a first filter of candidates. I have recruited successfully based on nothing more than a telephone interview.
I recently saw a social media post by a delighted candidate who had been invited to bring her children to interview if that made life easier for her. There were facilities available for childcare on site whilst she attended the interview and it negated the need for making costly or difficult arrangements for her children for a one-off interview. This, of course, would not be possible for every employer, but that particular employer got good free advocacy on social media.
Your employer reputation
Finally, this is your chance to market your business to your candidates. Whether or not they are successful at interview, you can bet they will go home and talk about the interview and your organisation to friends and family. So you need to take the opportunity to make it a glowing testimonial.
Whilst you are interviewing people, make sure they know about all of the benefits and hidden extras that you offer as an employer. Tell them about pay and benefits, of course, but also talk about things where you might have an advantage over your competitors. Things such as: Mental Health First Aiders; Carer Support; Child care options; Flexible Working.
Make sure you talk about your corporate responsibility initiatives and any charity support or local community work you do. People like to work somewhere they feel they are making a difference – not all employers can do that by the work itself, but they can all contribute in other ways.
If there are any negatives, then it is sensible to touch on those as well. If the parking is non-existent and it is expensive to park, then be honest. But if you can, then give advice on season tickets, etc. which can make it easier.
Finally, it is always useful to give them a contact name or email address in case they have any questions or concerns after the interview. This gives the message that it really is a two-way process and that you want them to feel they have had the chance to raise any concerns or questions.
In Conclusion ….
The key to successful recruitment interviews, as always, is good communication. The three things you need to think about are: a) how you are coming across to the candidate; b) how you can make it easier for the candidate and c) the message the candidate takes away about your Company.
If you can get those three things right, then your interviews should have a successful outcome, both in terms of recruiting the right person and making sure everyone else has a positive experience. Your reputation as an employer of choice will grow and blossom.
If you think this article is useful and you would like more advice on dealing with this – or any other people-related issue in your business – please join our mailing list, or contact us for further guidance.