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Preparing to Interview

Preparing to Interview

The Importance of Getting it Right

Interviewing is a crucial part of the recruitment process in most organisations, but preparation can often be overlooked, particularly during busy periods. A structured interview not only helps to ensure you recruit the right quality of candidate, but also helps to create and maintain a positive image of the business for them in what can be a highly competitive market.

Despite its importance, in our experience many clients have not been trained to interview. As a result, some of the important aspects are often not covered in enough depth or can be missed out entirely. To ensure that you get the best out of your candidates, and that just as importantly, they get the best out of you, please feel free to use the following information to prepare your interview process. If you would like more specific help, please feel free to contact one of our experienced consultants.

Recruit for the Business, Not just for the Role

How do you do this? Put simply, you need to recognise that high performing people equate to a high performing business. Successful recruitment processes identify the core characteristics of their most successful people prior to recruiting for a new role, which gives them a benchmark to recruit against.

The next step is to design a structured interview process to assess whether potential employees have these desired characteristics. These selection methods need to be implemented across the entire business, to ensure that everyone within it knows what they should be looking for in order to maximise the success of new hires.

Cultural Fit

The interview remains probably the best way of assessing the candidates’ cultural fit. Not only is this important to you as an employer looking for the right candidate to bring into the organisation; it is also increasingly important to potential recruits, particularly those in a competitive market who are looking for the right long term move.

What does cultural fit mean? Traditionally it has been a simple way of saying 'people like us', but this can create a tendency for recruiting managers to select in their own image, which perpetuates the fit already there. Whilst this may prevent conflicting opinions, be wary of using ‘cultural fit’ as an excuse to avoid hiring opinionated, challenging people. With the right direction, these people can often bring fresh perspective and new ideas which may drive the business forward in a different and exciting way.

Defining the culture starts at the top, even when recruiting for positions at all levels across the organisation. Take the time to make sure that all recruiting managers are aware of the importance of cultural fit when interviewing prospective employees.

Selecting the Great Candidates from the Many

One of the most important parts of a recruitment consultant's job is to understand a candidate's skills, experience, achievements and motivations, both professional and personal. We pride ourselves at Sacco Mann on avoiding the "tick the box" approach to selecting candidates for interview.

"Tick the box" selection is when you simply ask whether the candidate has the experience listed in the job specification. If the candidate says yes you tick the box and then move on to the next question. The problem with this style of selection is:

  • How do you know that what the candidate says is right?
  • Is this approach sufficient enough to determine whether the candidate is suitable?
  • Have you asked them to provide specific examples which demonstrate the experience they say they have?
  • Before you select any candidate for interview, consider what would be required to be successful in the position you are recruiting for. Use this as your basis for separating the great candidates from the many. This in turn should help you select the right candidates for interview.

Example Interview Questions

We would always recommend developing a customised structured interview for each position you are recruiting within your organisation. Having said that, we felt you might benefit from having some sample interview questions to work from. Feel free to use these interview questions as a starting point for creating your own structured interview.

Interview questions relating to the role/ business:

  • What attracts you to this job and what qualities do you think you’ll require?
  • What do you know about our business and what attracts you to us?
  • What are you looking for in a new role?
  • What would you like to avoid in your next role?

Interview questions relating to the candidate's current/ previous job:

  • What attracted you to your current / most recent job?
  • What has prompted you to leave / consider a move at this stage?
  • What problems did you encounter in your last job and how did you deal with them?
  • Explain your previous career moves
Career related interview questions:
  • What made you choose a career in this profession?
  • What are your career goals?
  • What will your referees say about you?

Interview questions relating to the candidate:

  • How would you describe yourself?
  • How would others describe you?
  • What has been your greatest success?
  • What has been your biggest disappointment to date?
  • How could you improve yourself?
  • How do you handle criticism?
  • What do you think makes a good manager?
  • What motivates you?
  • How do you deal with work pressure?
  • Where do you see yourself in 5/10 years' time?

Post Interview

Constructive feedback - positive marketing

The best recruitment processes balance rigorous assessment with compelling attraction messages. There is no point in having a structured recruitment process if you don't highlight to candidates why your business and this role in particular would be right for them. In addition, consistent communication and constructive feedback are increasingly important to candidates in a competitive market.

Providing candidates with feedback on their interview is a principle that few companies would disagree with. Yet in practice, where there are increasing numbers of candidates, it can be difficult to provide constructive feedback to everyone, particularly when it comes to more sensitive issues such as 'chemistry' and cultural fit.

Research by assessment services provider SHL shows that failure to provide feedback after an interview had left 19% of candidates with a negative feeling towards the company. It is a part of the recruitment process which can either underpin all the positives from a well structured interview, or undermine them. Here at Sacco Mann, we firmly believe in helping you to get it right.

For More Advice

If you need any further help or advice and / or you would like one of our consultants to go through some additional interview advice, please do not hesitate to contact us:

Call: 0845 241 5644

Email: recruit@saccomann.com

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