Interview tips for the interviewer
Why hasn’t interview etiquette evolved with the rest of the world?
We see hundreds of articles, posts, hints and tips about interview techniques. What to do and what not to do in an interview. From what to wear and the protocol of a ‘proper’ handshake through to the importance of body language, eye contact and asking intelligent, relevant questions.
The candidate is expected to research the business thoroughly, study the role description and to anticipate how their skills and experience match the client’s requirements. The candidate is expected to relay tangible results from their previous projects, show their worth and consider how they conduct themselves from the moment they walk through the door to the moment they leave.
Now, that all seems fair doesn’t it, but what about the interviewer? The person ‘testing’ them. Shouldn’t the interviewer be using the interview process as an opportunity to prove to the interviewee all the reasons why they should want to work with them and their business?
All too often when I am taking candidate feedback from an interview, I hear comments like – ‘I found it difficult to read,’ ‘they didn’t give much away,’ ‘I don’t think they had read my CV.’
Recently we represented 5 candidates for a senior role at a reputable firm. Without exception every one of these candidates called me with such positive feedback afterwards, they had thoroughly enjoyed the meeting and were excited at the prospect of progressing things further.
The common theme in everyone’s feedback was that they had found the interview challenging but inspiring. Yes, they were questioned on their experience and felt tested. Of course, they were asked to talk through previous projects and pluck out the most relevant aspects of their experience, but the interview was conducted in such a way that they all felt inspired to work with the interviewer. Their new potential manager described the business and the opportunity with passion and energy leaving all the candidates wanting to take things further. The interviewer had an open and engaging style and gave the candidates complete clarity on why this opportunity had arisen and their plans on how the role could develop further.
Another common theme was that the interviewer had done their ‘homework’. They had familiarised themselves with the candidates’ experience, commented on specific work and referenced specific projects to frame their questions. In other words, the interviewer had thoroughly prepared for who they were interviewing and made it their business to tailor their interview questions based on the work the candidate had done. The interview flowed naturally, and the candidates felt instantly able to elaborate on the elements of their experience that were of interest to the client.
So, by the end of a first stage interview process the client had a really nice problem – 5 equally excited, passionate, driven and interested individuals wanting to work for them.
This particular hiring process got me thinking. Why is it still relatively common practice to sit in a room with someone and watch them feel awkward and under scrutiny? Why do we still create an unnatural environment full of standard, templated interview questions?
Shouldn’t it be common practice for the client to bring their personal style into an interview and express how they feel about the role they are hiring and the business they work for? In taking this approach you will create a naturally engaging environment and give the candidate a real impression of what you potentially want them to be a part of.
The key takeaway of this story is for the interviewer;
Reciprocate the interest that someone has put into you, your business and the opportunity you are offering. Tell them about you, your plans for your team and the position you are hiring and explain how and why this role is an integral part of the businesses’ future.
By the end of the interview process I example here, the client won’t be dealing with having to go back to the drawing board because the candidate pulled out feeling as though the role wasn’t quite right for them. I won’t have to explain to them that their preferred candidate has accepted an offer at another business, or that they have accepted a counteroffer to stay in their current business. The client will be able to make a commercially competitive offer and be the first choice of opportunity for the candidate to accept over and above any other options they may have. And all because, the interviewer prepared for the interview they were about to conduct.