In my nearly 30 years of working for Hays I can confidently say that the bulk of interview advice that I’ve both read and offered has been targeted at candidates – what to wear, what to say and how to act to secure the job. But, are the people doing the hiring making the most of the opportunity? First impressions count, not only for the people being interviewed, but also for those carrying out the interviews.
We often forget that interviewing is a skill, which makes it particularly difficult for the hiring manager who interviews once from time to time or for the manager who is asked to get involved in the recruitment process for the first time. The thought of having to find the best candidate after spending only an hour or two with the prospective candidate can be a daunting prospect and it is highly likely you’ll be feeling the pressure.
We are very proud to have been recently announced as a winner of the Glassdoor top 10 Best Places to Interview Award and we invest a huge amount of time perfecting our interview skills - we conduct over 1,800 face-to-face interviews every day. We are, therefore, well placed to recruit the best people to work for Hays and to pass on the best advice to our candidates and clients. This has never been more important, given that skills shortages continue to take hold and it can be extremely competitive to secure top talent.
Here are our top five tips to help first-timers overcome their nerves and find the people who will really make a difference to their team.
Don’t forget that interviews take a lot of time and preparation from the candidates so it is only fair that the person carrying out the interviews invests the same in their preparation. Get the basics right of being on time, reviewing their CV prior to the interview and making sure you have booked an interview room. Put a schedule in place for when you’ll conduct the first and second round interviews and who will be involved in the final decision. Interviews that drag on for months usually just result in you losing the good candidates who are quickly snapped up elsewhere.
Make sure you are clear about what you absolutely must see from the candidate and the areas that are ‘nice to haves’. Some skills may be trained in time, others might not be realistic for the level and pay you are offering, and some might simply be luxuries given the types of candidates available. Whilst some of this will come to light throughout the recruitment process, if you are clear about this from the outset and are prepared to compromise on some of the non-essentials you’ll open up the talent pool and give yourself more options.
Choose your questions wisely
Make sure you are up-to-date on the latest interview techniques, and prepare a list of standard questions and a rating system that will allow for a fair comparison. You may have heard stories of companies asking weird and wacky questions about what animal they are most like or describing an object in the room, but these are unlikely to give you the information you need. You only have a limited amount of time, so be clear on the questions you want to cover and address any CV gaps or areas of concern.
Get a second opinion
Set tasks and assignments at key stages in the process that will help you to identify which candidates have the skills you need. This might be a simple writing test if that’s important to the role, or it might involve the candidate submitting a task or delivering a presentation. Think about what they will be doing day-to-day and make sure this is reflected in the tasks. Also, get a colleague or manager involved in the process. It is inevitable they have carried out interviews before so will be better versed about potential pitfalls. At the very least, they will be able to provide a second opinion and it will take the pressure off you as the sole decision-maker.
Be clear on your USPs
Interviews are two-way and you need to convince the candidate why they should work for you. Be clear about how your organisation stands out from your competitors. The candidates will want to understand what is expected of the role, what the team is like, where they will be working and what opportunities are on offer long-term. Don’t just rely on the salary - training is important and you may get quizzed on the benefits package, how the company promotes a positive work-life balance and whether the organisation is diverse.
The stakes are high – you don’t want to struggle to recruit, have a long-term gap in your team or recruit the wrong person. This can make it even more daunting, so don’t be surprised if you are finding the process overwhelming at first and need to overcome your own nerves. But, it is a great feeling to get your first hire on board, performing well and helping them to progress their career, so tackle the opportunity head on and seek further advice if needed, to help reduce the chance of making a costly mistake.
If you are looking for support with your employment needs please contact your local office.