With over 15 years recruitment experience, our Managing Director Nathan Connolly has taken part in his fair share of interviews and has lost count of how many times he's been asked for advice on how best to construct the ideal interview experience. Below he shares his thoughts...
Interviews in coffee shops, airports, train stations, the office kitchen and once by the lift! We’ve heard at all! Whilst candidate experience at interview has been getting consistently stronger over the years – at the bleeding edge of both digital and technology recruitment it’s a recruitment consultant's worst nightmare hearing the post interview feedback line “I liked the idea of them and the project is great but I can't see myself there the other interview I had was much better”.
We understand that the right experience is a time consuming endeavour but as Marks and Spencer found in early 2004 you may find that a huge swathe of your potential employees and interviewees are potential buyers and users! It’s amazing how quickly word travels in talent communities and giving the wrong impression to one candidate can have its repercussions with people you may not have even met yet!
A look on Glassdoor will give the candidate a snapshot into office life but as with all review sites, these are often only forced – "really enjoy it here its good" or aggressive and upset "couldn't pay me to stay in this f**king place" and rarely middle of the road.
A good consultant can easily explain these away if unfounded and if they are should be able to work with you address the situation and outside perception of the business.
The difference between candidate experience at firms across the country is chalk and cheese so what does a good candidate experience look like...and please remember if we are your agency you will be one of at least 4 other companies that want the person coming in.
There's a myriad of reasons why you may not want an interview to take place on your premises; whether its lack of space or confidentiality, it's critical you get it right. A good recruitment consultant will have met candidates and clients across the country so let them guide you on the best place to suggest. Costa Coffee in the high street may be close, but with lots of background noise and distractions, it's not going to allow you to have a decent conversation!
No one likes a clock watcher not least your potential future employee – avoid any awkwardness and set an alarm for the length of time you agreed on upfront!
I've sat in numerous interviews with clients over the years and on occasion have been staggered to see what can only be a lackadaisical approach to the preparation of the candidate. Trust your recruiter, by all means, to put the right people in front of you, but we also strongly advise you do your own research to allow you to tailor your questions in order to get the answers that matter to your business.
Put a Face to the Name
If you are meeting a candidate for interview, chances are you’ve already thoroughly analysed their CV, but have you scoped out their LinkedIn profile? Make sure you can put a face to the name and make your reception/concierge staff aware the candidate is coming so there’s no chance of awkward exchanges.
Be On Time
Arriving late for an interview can often give the candidate the impression that the meeting isn’t top of your priorities (despite the fact that’s unlikely to be the case) so make sure you allow plenty of time to get set up and prep before hand to avoid any last min delays and tarnishing the interview from the get go!
Sell the Opportunity and Business
In such a competitive market, it is hugely important that you sell the opportunity. How you sell your business and position can make the difference between securing the candidate you want and them going to work for one of your competitors. Your recruitment consultant will be able to work with you and give you the competitive edge that your role and company offer but start by simply explaining the advantages of joining, potential career development on offer and the key projects they will be involved in.
Give An Office Tour
We always advise on giving candidates a little bit of a tour around the office and potentially a quick intro to the team they’ll be working with day to day to give them a real feel for the business environment.
See the Candidate Out
It’s always a nice touch to see the candidate out at the end of the interview. Not only does this show the candidate an element of respect for their time and efforts, it's also provides you with a great opportunity to talk about something outside of the interview setting and get to know them a little more.
Give Constructive Feedback Afterwards
If after the interview you didn't feel it went as well as it could have, pass on any constructive feedback to the candidate via your recruiter (or direct if you aren’t using one) so that they can learn from the experience and improve where necessary. Candidates often take time off on holiday and pay to attend interviews so providing constructive feedback goes a long way.
If you like the candidate you've interviewed and think they would be the ideal match for your business, get your consultant on the phone straight away. Companies who can act fast following an interview have the greatest chance of securing the best talent. Unfortunately, we often see delays at this stage be because candidates lose interest or accept another offer. With so much time invested in the process by this stage, it's worth acting fast!
Allow time for questions
The questions candidates ask and how they ask them are as critical as yours, so if you're interested in securing the candidate, this will be your best chance to really sell the business and 'close the deal'. Ideally your recruiter should have prepped you for the sorts of questions you are likely to be asked (if they haven’t, call us!) If it's too late to swap agencies, be prepared to answer the following;
- Why did you choose to come here?
- What do you like about working here?
- What's the businesses three and five-year plan?
- What progression is there in the role?
Work with your consultant to learn how to position the business and the sell; what are the competitor's offering? Is it an interesting role? What are your USP’s and so on.
If you would like help in recruiting for a role within your business or would simply like some advice or support, please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0203 397 4565 for more info.