November 22, 2021
We all get nervous for interviews, it’s totally natural. That gut wrenching feeling we get before entering an interview room is completely normal, but have you ever thought how the ever person (the person interviewing you) might be feeling? We all enter these scenarios thinking that it’s an Alan Sugar type character who’s going to be interviewing us, but that may not be the case at all. Interviewers can be nervous too sometimes, especially if they’ve not interviewed someone before. We’ve all been there, interviewing someone for the first time, it can be daunting so I thought I’d jot down some ideas on how to help you prepare…
First things first though, it’s important to note that I’m writing this in an undeniably candidate led market. What does that mean? Well….in essence top talent is always in high demand and even more so currently. Marketing and positioning an opportunity effectively as well as moving with pace are key factors in the candidate experience that will influence outcomes. Simple. This is important to understand because it does alter your interview style. Gone are the days where you can sit a candidate down and grill them for an hour. The candidate you’re interviewing is likely to have numerous other processes live and they will assess you and your company as much as you’ll be assessing them. Remember that…
1) Be prepared – Candidates are expected to prepare like crazy before interviews, and rightly so. However, as an interviewer it’s important to prepare accordingly too. What does that mean then?
- READ THE CV: Sounds like common sense but you wouldn’t believe the amount of interviewers who go into an interview without having read the CV. When you’re reading the CV, jot down any questions you want to ask them on their experience, reasons for moving from one company to another and enquire about any gaps / points of intrigue you spot.
- Prepare your questions beforehand: if you have a job description, ensure you’ve read it and make sure you know what the key competencies are so you can prepare what questions you want to ask.
- If you’re asking the candidate some competency-based interview questions, try and base them around the job description.
2) Before the interview:
- DBFL (“Don’t be ‘friggin’ late”) – This is a phrase I have to use with my rugby team very frequently. You wouldn’t expect the candidate to be late, so it works both ways. Oh and if it’s an online interview, check your Wifi signal 10/15 mins before the call…
- Ice breakers / small talk – So important. No one enjoys the awkward silence when you meet someone for the first time, try and put the candidate at ease by finding something light-hearted to talk about. The British weather is personal favoured topic of mine 😉. Offer them a drink, maybe a short tour of the office and make them feel comfortable (they’re assessing you too remember….first impressions and all!)
3) Interview structure – This is VERY subjective, there is no right or wrong way to structure an interview. However, we are in a candidate led market right now so you need to sell, and you need to sell well.
- Overview of the business – Often the most effective way to obtain buy in from candidates is to effectively and honestly promote your business and the opportunity you are recruiting for, excite the candidate and be interested in the candidate. What do I mean by all this? Start the interview by providing a clear overview of your business, the vision/objectives, overview of how the business has coped with Covid-19/Brexit, why the business is looking to hire etc.
- CV run through – once you’ve explained the business and hopefully obtained buy in and interest from the candidate, now is the time for them to shine. Often it’s a good idea to ask them to talk through their CV and highlight their relevant experience. Get them talking. You will inevitably have some questions throughout. Judge it, you can ask the questions there and then, or you may want to ask at the end – your call!
- Additional questions – Now is the time to really explore whether the candidate is suitable for the role. This will be straight forward as you’d have prepared the questions in advance…wouldn’t you?!?
- Question time? – It’s important in any interview that the candidate is given a chance to ask any questions they have, of which hopefully they’ll be many, that’s a sign of whether someone is interested or not, if they have lots of questions. When answering these questions, remember you’re selling (if you still want too) and they’re assessing you…
- Cultural fit – Explore their hobbies and interests! We all want to hire people we get on with and will thrive in the culture or the company. You could do this at the start when you’re searching for an ‘Ice breaker’. But either way, it’s worth ensuring it’s not all work work work, especially if you like them!
- The Close: Let the candidate know some timescales of when they’re likely to hear back, worth also giving them the heads up on likely next steps if you’re thinking of progressing them. If there is a task/presentation for the next round, let them know so it’s not a surprise further down the line.
4) After the interview:
- FEEDBACK – ALWAYS give feedback, positive or negative. Remember you’re representing you and your business here. Word can travel if you don’t give feedback, the candidate has given up their time by expressing an interest in working with you so the least they deserve is some feedback.
- If you like the candidate, drop them a line, why not. It will go down well and will be well received, especially if they’re weighing up your opportunity vs others.
- Move quickly, don’t hang around if you interview someone you like, progress them ASAP. There’s nothing worse than a candidate you like being snapped up quickly by another organisation because you didn’t move fast enough.
Finally, how did you perform? Hopefully this will be the first interview of many, review your own performance. What did you do well? What not so well? A good idea might be to ask your manager or someone senior to you to join you in the interview so they can give you feedback on how you get on. Nerve wracking yes, but that’s how you learn.