You’ll no doubt have heard time and time again that we’re in a candidate-driven market, where competition for the very best people is fierce. It’s not unusual for the most exceptional people to have two or three job offers to choose from, not to mention counter offers from their existing employer. So how do you make sure that those people who stand out above the rest choose to come and work for your company? 
There are lots of factors that play a part in this, from the online branding and reputation of your company, the appeal of the job adverts you post, the recruitment process, the salary package on offer etc. However, in this particular blog I’m going to focus on the importance of the interview itself…because even if you get everything else spot on, if you turn off your candidates at interview then it won’t matter. 

The importance of the interview 

I was speaking to a friend this week who is currently in the process of looking for a new role. I knew she’d had an interview earlier that day and I asked her how it went. 
Her response was “I’m not really that keen on the role any more, they just didn’t sell the company to me.” She proceeded to tell me that the person interviewing her was due to be leaving the company and that they were interviewing for their replacement. By choosing a person who was due to leave (and therefore already likely to be disengaged) to conduct the interview and not a manager who was passionate and engaged with the company, my friend was left with the impression that the company didn’t care or consider the role they were interviewing for was important. 
In all likelihood, this employer has now missed out on a talented new employee. My friend has other interviews lined up and is likely to get snapped by one of those companies. 

Your candidates are interviewing you too! 

When you interview someone, you have every right to expect certain things from them. For example, you would expect them to be punctual, dressed appropriately, have really done their homework on your company, have some pertinent questions to ask and be able to answer your questions thoroughly with real-life examples to back up their claims. 
Just as there are boxes you’d expect your candidates to tick at interview, there are some things that they should be able to expect from you too. If you want to avoid driving candidates away during your interview process, here are three questions to ask yourself: 

1. Is the first interview with an ambassador for the company? 

In theory whoever conducts the interviews should be a real ambassador for your organisation but in reality this isn’t always the case. Many companies choose to hold the first stage interview with a more junior member of staff who might not fully understand the role they are interviewing for and how it fits into the bigger picture. It is only once the person goes through to second interview stage that they are more likely to meet a member of the senior management team, by which point it could be too late. 
I believe this should be the other way around. For example, if you were going to sell a house, wouldn’t you want to make sure it was looking its best before prospective buyers came round, to increase their chances of coming back for a second viewing? By ensuring that the person conducting the first interview is someone who has a passion for the company and can share the vision, their enthusiasm is likely to encourage the candidate to return for a second interview. This person is likely to be a senior member of staff, possibly a director or Managing Director depending on the size of your company. 
I’ve spoken to clients in the past who have had reservations about conducting interviews in this way due to the higher costs of the director’s time. However, if you have screened your candidates thoroughly before the interview stage then every person who walks into your interview is a potential employee and therefore someone you should want to impress. If you don’t make enough effort to do this, you risk losing them to someone else. 

2. Have you done your homework? 

We all expect our candidates to turn up to an interview having fully researched our company and we owe it to them to do some research of our own. It’s worth setting aside the time to read their CV in advance of the interview and making a note of any pertinent questions that spring to mind and get a sense of the career path they have taken to date. You might also want to briefly check them out on social media too and see if this gives you any more insight (they will probably be doing this to you too!). 
Tip: Take note of your candidates’ hobbies and interests and ask about them. If you ask conversational questions and take an interest in them, they should feel more relaxed, making it easier to build rapport. 

3. Is the process happening as quickly as it could be? 

If you have managed to make a good impression on your interviewee, they will be eager to know what’s coming next. It’s worth remembering that your company is likely to be one of several that your candidate is interviewing for and due to high levels of competition for the top people, time is of the essence! It’s not uncommon for a company to miss out on recruiting their first choice of candidate, simply because they took too long to make a decision. 
Tip: If you’re planning to recruit, it’s worth checking the diaries of those who will be involved in the process first, to ensure it runs quickly and seamlessly and doesn’t fall into a holiday period. This will increase your chances of being able to secure the best person for the role. If for any reason this is not going to happen as smoothly as you’d like, make sure you stay in regular contact with your candidate to reassure them that they are still very much in the running. 
To sum up, in a candidate-driven market, employers must do everything they can to increase their chances of securing the best people to come and work for them. Interviews are a crucial part of this. By working hard to impress your candidate just as you’re expecting them to work hard to impress you, you’ll be in a much better position to build a successful team for the future. 
Nick Peacock is the Owner and Managing Director of Ascendant Recruitment. If you’d like help finding high quality people for your team or you’re looking for a new job in Office Support, Sales & Marketing, Human Resources, Finance & Accountancy, Bid Management or Warehousing & Logistics then please call us on 01908 200270 (Milton Keynes) or 01604 439380 (Northampton) or email us on [email protected]
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