Applause IT

We’ve all been there, many of us on either side of the desk and one thing is true in both cases, interviews can be difficult.

You often have a candidate who is desperately trying to make a good impression, they are often nervous and perhaps don’t come across in their usual way. On the other side of the desk you have the hiring manager and perhaps the potential line manager of the new recruit who are weary from wading through numerous CVs and cover letters hoping that the person sat in front of them is the one!

Hiring the wrong person can actually be more costly than not hiring at all. Accepting a job that’s not right for you in terms of skills, knowledge and company fit is also a nightmare, so it’s no wonder interviews can be such a stomach churning time for all.  

We all know that interviews are one of the key steps in the recruitment process, many HR and hiring teams are still making mistakes that can easily be sorted to make the interview process a more positive experience for everyone involved.

The person recruiting will no doubt have spent many hours trawling through a mound of CVs looking for the best candidates to put forward to the next stage of the recruitment process, the interview. On the flipside, it’s likely that the candidates will have sent off their CV to several recruitment agencies or directly to other employers, they will probably have several interviews under their belt and are now feeling almost robotic with their responses to your questions.

Here we thought we’d give you a few of our tips on how to make the interview experience something engaging and productive regardless of which side of the desk you’re sat.

Be the very best version of yourself

There is so much pressure on both candidates and interviewers it’s easy to forget what an interview actually is. In all honesty, an interview should be a conversation between two or a few people to get to know each other and see if they can offer something of use to each other. Of course the stakes may be slightly higher than an average natter but the principles are still the same, and the stakes are high for both sides so it should even it out a little.

It’s therefore very important to be yourself, not your relaxed Saturday night sat in your joggers self but your professional, hard working and conscientious self. If you have to put on an act you won’t be doing yourself any favours, either in the interview or further down the line.

Unfortunately because of a lot of self help articles on the internet people often walk into an interview with a pre-conceived idea of what is expected of them and therefore act accordingly. The downside of all the articles is that so much focus is on etiquette when actually a bucket load of common sense will do. Do you really need to be told not to go as “your relaxed Saturday night sat in your joggers self”, of course not, if you don’t know that joggers aren’t suitable for an interview, you won’t be getting the job!

It’s true on both sides of the desk; the interviewer has read how to catch a candidate out and therefore forgets the important aspect of how to help a candidate showcase themselves best.

The key is to make sure there’s a balance, be yourself, but of course the best version of yourself. You want to come across as intelligent, approachable, attentive and smart, all the things your colleagues would want in a new team member. Try to appear confident, not to be confused with arrogant and don’t make claims you can’t prove or you’ll be caught out. Be yourself, relax and be honest. If you don’t know the answer to a question, say so.

Advice for candidates

You know your own skills and capabilities; you know what you’re good at and the areas where you might need improvement or direction. You should therefore be able to give the interviewer direct answers to the majority of their questions drawing directly on your past experience.

Give specific examples of times when you used your skills to overcome a problem or issue. Talk about how you used your knowledge to help a business. The more specific you can be the better, vague examples look like they are fictitious or you weren’t in fact the key team player you’re trying to make out.

If the interviewer asks about something you’ve not done before, be honest but give examples of things you’ve done that are closely related or examples where you’ve quickly learnt something and applied it to a project or area of working.

If you find yourself struggling to recount elements of your CV when the interviewer is asking directly based on what’s in front of them, it is time to study your CV in more detail and decide if it is an accurate reflection of your skills,  knowledge and experience.

Advice for interviewers

A company looking to hire a new recruit will know exactly what is needed from a new employee from the skills needed to bolster their current employees to the personal attributes needed to compliment those already in the team. Keep this in mind when the interview is taking place and only ask questions that are relevant to the position and the team.

There are actually only two areas you need to know about, does the candidate have the skills and knowledge to solve the problem your company has and does there personality and attitude fit with your company culture? Try to concentrate on these areas without going off on a tangent asking questions that may be interesting but bear no relevance to the role.

Remember, you’re there to get the best from the candidate, not to try and catch them out so make your questions clear and concise, and re-word them if a candidate appears to be struggling, they may well know the answer but didn’t understand the way you’d phrased it, you don’t want to miss out on a great employee just because of a minor communication difficulty. 


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