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Securing the best fish in a shrinking pond:
3 interview techniques for a skills-short market

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Whilst interview nerves are usually reserved for the person sitting in the candidate hot seat, in such a fiercely competitive market for talent it is often the interviewer who really needs to work on their rusty interview techniques.

Our latest research highlights that employers are actively deterring some of the very best candidates by not putting enough focus and preparation on the interview process. Our recent What Workers Want report showed that 47% of applicants have been deterred due to a lack of preparation by the interviewer. That’s an astonishing figure when you consider that the UK unemployment rate is at its lowest since the mid-70s (in July 2018), and we face critical skill shortages.

Against this backdrop, it’s worrying that organisations could be missing out on future talent simply because interviewers are unprepared or out of date with their interview techniques.

Therefore, you should ensure the following when interviewing:

Give applicants a chance to shine

Interviews should give you the strongest chance of finding the best person for the role, and not be a test to trip applicants up. While open ended interview questions are the most popular for both employers and applicants, less than half of applicants believe that competency-based interview questions give them the best chance of articulating their expertise and skills.

While the trend for bizarre brain teaser-style interview questions seems to be fading, employers should consider whether they are really getting the best out of applicants through their interviews and review the style and structure of their interviews accordingly. Collecting the right information through the application process will also help you conduct more focused interviews with appropriate candidates.

Don’t undersell your people and culture

Today’s applicants also expect more than a formal Q&A with the hiring manager. With the people and culture of an organisation being one of the deciding factors in whether people accept or leave jobs, it’s not surprising that applicants want to get a sense of this during the interview process. If you have extolled the vibrancy of your company culture in your recruitment advertising, make sure this is brought to life in the interview. Applicants also want to know where they will spending their working days - 76% also say they want to see the physical space they’ll be working in before accepting a role.

Despite the importance of technology in recruitment today, it’s still people that really matter. Applicants want to meet the colleagues they will be working with, and managers want to meet their future team. But while 62% of applicants say meeting direct reports is important to them, only 13% of employers offer this opportunity. Where feasible, offering a tour of the workplace and introductions to important team members can really help sell your culture to an applicant who might be unsure about the role.

Communicate clearly and quickly

The interview and offer process should help you develop mutual trust and respect with the applicant. Prompt feedback is incredibly important to applicants, and 58% would only wait between 1-3 days after an interview for an offer before accepting another. Applicants also want to have a clear point of contact, and to understand how long the process will take at every stage.

When employers fail to provide any feedback on an interview they threaten this relationship, and do lasting damage to their employer brand. In a candidate-short market ‘ghosting’ by applicants has also started to take place and employers are reporting applicants ‘disappearing’ even after accepting an offer. By keeping the lines of communication open, even if there are delays in the process, employers can help cement the mutual trust they need from their future employers and ensure a successful hire.

For more detailed insights into how employers can hone their application process to attract top talent, you can request your copy of the Hays What Workers Want 2018 report here.


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