The interview process is obviously a time consuming and costly one and therefore the ideal scenario is to find a candidate who fits the bill the first time around. Of course if that person doesn’t walk through the door then re-running the process is disappointing but essential.
But what if you offer the job to someone that you really wanted and they turn you down because of a negative impression you or someone else within your organisation had given them?
You may never actually find out the real reason, but to hear that the cause could have been avoided would be extremely frustrating.
Therefore it is essential that you are ready to show yourself and the company in the best light from the moment the ideal candidate arrives. Unfortunately even Russell Grant would find it difficult to predict who this is and when they might appear. Here are a few tips to ensure that you are firing on all cylinders and are immediately creating a positive impact whenever the one may arrive.
1) First impressions:
There is an old saying that it only takes 90 seconds for an interviewer to make up their mind about an interviewee, so surely it must be equally quick for an interviewee to make up his or her mind about an employer. First impressions count, so make sure that your front of house (receptionist, secretary etc ) is fully briefed regarding the arrangements for the interviews. There is no better way of creating an initial bad impression for candidates (except maybe slapping them with a wet fish as they come through the revolving door) and demonstrating an uncommunicative organisation than the first person they encounter not knowing who they are or why they are there. To avoid the receptionist having to desperately ring around to find out whats happening, provide them with all the information they need in advance including:
- Who the candidates are
- What position they are applying for
- What time their interviews starts
- Who to contact when they arrive
- Whether or not they have arranged a car parking space
If reception can pre-empt the candidates as they arrive:
(You must be Lotta Potential, you’re here for an interview for the Marketing Manager position. Did you get parked alright? Please take a seat. Your interview isn’t for another 20 minutes, would you like a drink? You look a little peaky, would you like to lie down?)
…then this will create the impression of a slick organisation.
Also, if the candidates are providing a presentation and are bringing memory sticks which need virus checking, arrange for the receptionist to organise this while the candidates are waiting so that the interview can start immediately at the appropriate time.
2) Inspect the room:
Before the first interview of the day, it is vital that you allow enough time to check the interview room in the first instance. By arriving only minutes before the first interview you will potentially have to clear up (or if you are lucky enough to be arranging for someone to do it for you,) which can make you behind schedule before the process has even started. An even bigger no-no is to bring the first candidate directly to the meeting room without checking the room at all, as you could potentially find the remnants of whatever the previous occupiers have been up to.
It is also essential that you allow enough time between interviews. Time is needed to make notes on the previous candidate, remove used glasses, put the notes and CVs of other candidates out of sight and wipe away any tears from the table top (theirs or yours).
3) Check the tech:
If you are using technology within the interview make sure the laptop/projector/TV work perfectly before the interviews get underway. There is nothing more awkward than making small talk with a candidate while Malcolm from IT rummages around under the table looking for the appropriate cables. Also, plug in the laptop rather than relying on the battery life and if the laptop has a stand-by or locks out after a certain period of time then switch these features off during the interview process.
In case a lock-out does occur, make sure you have the appropriate password in advance if it isn’t your own computer.
4) Be prepared:
If you were ever in the Cubs or Brownies you will know this already, but preparation is key.
Read a candidate’s CV thoroughly before the interview and prepare any questions that you want to ask them specifically so that you can give them your full attention whilst conducting the interview itself. It can be extremely off putting for candidates if you are desperately flicking through their CV during the interview looking for your next question whilst they are delivering their carefully constructed answer which could be the key to their future.
Also, it may seem basic, but make sure you have the answers to all the simple questions the candidate may have regarding the organisation and the benefits of the job. Not knowing the company turnover or whether the job comes with private health care may leave you sitting there with a significant amount of egg on your face.
5) Create a real impression:
We have all heard of nightmare dates where the date in question has made certain enhancements to themselves and hasn’t turned out to be entirely what the person expected them to be.
Of course, it is important to show yourself and the organisation in the best light, but it is pointless making out you or the business are something you are not in order to increase the attractiveness of the offer to the candidate. At best the chosen candidate will feel like they have been tricked once they start work and this may have an immediate impact on their motivation. At worst the candidate will hand in their resignation right away or shortly after starting which means that you will have to go through the whole recruitment process once again.
With experience comes increased
Unfortunately from my experience the more senior you get and the more interviews you carry out the more likely it is that you will overlook many of the points above.
As interviewing becomes a chore rather than a new experience and there are increasingly important demands on your time, it is easy to overlook how costly the interview process is and how important it is to find the right candidates for the business at all levels within the organisation. Senior employees will read CVs last minute, wont check rooms and turn up to interviews at the last minute or even late. So even if you are an old hat at interviewing, it is worth check boxing the above points once again in order to project a shining reflection of the organisation.
Author: Gary Skipper is the Marketing Manager for Newman Stewart, an Executive Search and Management Selection company which finds excellent people for excellent businesses and can be found at www.newmanstewart.co.uk.