Being able to bring the right people with the right mix of skills and abilities into a business is critical for the organisation’s success in the future. Recognising this, organisations often make substantial investments in attracting good candidates, devoting time and money to getting it right, yet surprisingly few think strategically about the interview process itself and its role in convincing the best candidates to accept their job.
Why is this important?
Competition is fierce for the top performing candidates; everyone wants to bring a star into their business. The best candidates are likely to be interviewed by a number of different organisations, and they may receive a number of job offers. Securing the best candidates for your organisation means ensuring that they see your role as the most attractive.
What makes a position or organisation attractive varies from person to person, but it is often not just about the money. Candidates will accept positions where they feel they will be happy. Where they will be able to develop further. Or even where they will be able to achieve a work-life balance that works for them.
Being able to position your organisation as aligned with the desires and aspirations of potential candidates makes it more likely that you will be able to successfully recruit them. Conversely, candidates who have a bad interview experience or dislike the interviewers are unlikely to accept the role, even if it looks like a good fit on paper.
How can interviewers make a good impression?
Just as interviewers are making judgements about the candidates, so too are candidates making judgements about the interviewers, and many of the same questions are racing through their heads: Am I a good fit with the organisation? How will I complement the team? What will the future look like here?
There are three things that an interviewer needs to do to make a good impression on the candidate:
1. They must represent the organisation in a way that is reflective of the external branding of the organisation.
The candidate will have applied to the organisation with an appreciation of what the organisation does, and how it will behave. If the organisation presents itself as fair and ethical this should come across in the interview. If the organisation claims to be innovative and flexible, then the interviewers need to reflect this too. Where a candidate notes a difference between what the organisation says it will do and their personal experience of the organisation, it is harder to build trust or engagement, and they may come away feeling disillusioned.
Interviewers should prepare for the interview by ensuring they are aware of their ‘employer proposition’ or how the organisation positions itself in the marketplace. They should be familiar with the organisations vision, mission and values, and consider how they could reflect or share these within the interview. This could include the language used or the ideas or examples shared.
2. They must empathetically consider the needs of the person and aim to proactively engage with them on a personal level.
Candidates need to be able to imagine themselves within the organisation to want to join it, and interviewers can support this by deliberately building rapport with the candidate. They should be warm and positive and show interest in the candidate as an individual. They should take the time to explore the interests and aspirations of the individuals and constructively explore what these could look like within the organisation. They should show interest in the questions posed by the candidate and probe further to ensure that they are able to answer in the best possible way. Good questions could include:
• What attracted you to this role?
• What are your longer-term aspirations?
• What do you hope to get out of this opportunity?
• How could we support you to achieve your goals?
3. They must ensure that the recruitment process is perceived as fair and aligned to the requirements of the role.
It is important that candidates perceive the recruitment process as fair and related to the role because they want to know what criteria they are being assessed against. No-one wants to feel that an organisation treats people unfairly or to walk away from an interview thinking “that was a bizarre experience”. This means that there should be a clear link between the contents of the selection process/interview and the requirements of the role. Any tests should be clearly relevant to the role, and the reasons for asking them clear and transparent.
Ed Mellett is an entrepreneur, careers professional and the man behind practicereasoningtests.com. He co-founded and launched the leading student and graduate careers website wikijob.co.uk. Now in its 11th year, wikijob attracts over 400,000 unique users per month and is a must-visit resource for students considering their careers post-university