Old fashioned interview mind-sets

Posted by Lawrence Bond February 28, 2022

Are you an old-fashioned interviewer?

From an employer’s perspective, is it old fashioned to think that the recruitment process should be all about the candidate selling themselves and that they should be desperately falling over themselves to work at your business?

Well, and at the risk of looking indecisive, yes and no (but more YES!). Yes, the applicant has to show a desire to work for you and your business and it would be silly to employ someone who doesn’t instill confidence or leaves you feeling that they’re in it for the long term and the right reasons.

However… …generally, employers now realise that a candidate who happens to be one of those great applicants and who will help your business, will also be a great asset to other firms and the interview process has to be a two way “sell” to increase your chances of a successful outcome for you.

Furthermore, if they’re in a job at present, you’re not just battling other suitors but also their current employer who is more likely than ever to try and persuade them to stay – their present employer also clearly has an advantage at the point of resignation, as they can promise change and use their notice period to continue working on that. As well as financial counter-offers, the emotional counter-offer is huge – the ease of transition to a bigger role where they’re already respected, where they can come and go without having to prove themselves in the same way they would at a new business and the whole “I’m so sorry, it’s us not you, we can change, please stay” approach from their present boss!

Therefore the need to sell to, and engage with, your preferred candidate whilst you have the chance is essential.

Although you may be passionate about your business (I love my Company!) an outsider will need to buy into why you feel like that before they start to care.

Unless your applicant isn’t known to be on the market, there’s always likely some form of a tug of war for that top talent from agencies and other like-minded businesses. another reason to re-look at how you can improve the enitre interview experience and not just the questions/conversation element.

Some of the largest businesses such as Google, Apple etc can make candidates jump through numerous hoops and have a drawn out interview process but even these high-profile, ‘cool’ companies spend a huge amount of time and effort on selling their way to the candidates.

So, what can you actually do to increase engagement at interview & how can you improve your chances of securing that great, high demand candidate and their subsequent offer acceptance? There are so many factors that you can look at and we will gladly offer free advice on this (and other recruitment related areas). However 5 ideas that will help you have a competitive edge are:

Start the engagement process before the interview:
Pick up the phone, talk to the candidates and get them excited about the meeting. Even if they’re offered another role in the meantime, they’re more likely to wait until they’ve met you. It takes time but it really ‘humanises’ the process and creates engagement.

Speed of the process:
Although you don’t want to rush the process unnecessarily, you may need to ‘mobilise the troops’ quickly. Even if it’s ensuring you get that 1st meeting sorted ASAP.
I often hear employers who have heard that their candidate has taken another role say “if they were interested, they would have waited” but that’s not how the business world works. Business tends to move quickly and those same leaders would often approach revenue opportunities with a swifter mindset.

Treat candidates the same way you would treat clients:
Engage with them, show them around your offices and ensure that your receptionist expects them, knows their name and that your team are welcoming and say hi as you show them around. It would make you feel welcome if you were the applicant and gut feel counts for a lot.

Don’t make the interview feel like ‘Mastermind’ or ‘The Apprentice’.
Step back from how you’ve interviewed in the past. Do you know the competences, skills, personality traits you need? I suspect you know exactly what you want but does your process really enable the candidate to relax enough for you to look beneath the surface? Do your questions differ from others?
We often include small tests that tell us loads about a person’s ability to interact whilst not being obvious. As an example, we regularly let the candidate chat to the team whilst I deal with a brief issue or make them a drink. I step out and leave everyone to have an informal chat. We re-group afterwards and our team tend to find out a huge amount about the interviewees personality, fit, research in those five minutes. It obviously helps that our team all have 20+ years experience of interviewing!

Embrace technology:

A few years ago, very few people saw video-interviews as a suitable alternative to meeting. Whether you have a hybrid approach or an office based set-up, a video interview is a far more efficient approach for many. It’s quicker, cheaper for the job seeker and far easy to diarise than an applicant taking a half day.

This doesn’t need to replace a face-to-face meeting but should compliment it and ensure that you don’t waste yours or the candidate’s time IF there are clear ‘red flags’ either way. Equally it can create a far more productive in-person meeting as the video meeting will often create engagement and give greater direction to the next conversation.

Follow up and keep in touch:
Send a nice follow up to your candidates after their interview. It may even be a brief text to say thanks, great to meet you and manage feedback and the next step/timescales, but think how nice you’d feel if you received a personalised, email, text or call to let you know that you had done a great job and your future at their business looked bright.

Even if your offer is rejected or you decide not to offer that person, keep in touch and include them in your network as life changes! It’s not too tricky with tools such as LinkedIn so commonly used.

Recruitment is not an exact science and it’s often an emotive process for candidates, not dissimilar to buying a house. Keep putting yourself in the applicant’s position and reviewing and improving the process. This is just another area where you can be the envy of your competitors.

We give our clients (and potential clients) a lot of free advice on subjects like this. If we do that, we know you’ll promote us and use us when the time’s right.

If we haven’t met yet, get in touch and let’s have an old-fashioned conversation!

Contact Form