Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Sarah Miller. Her opinions are her own.
The recruiting game has changed in recent years with the introduction of more accessible online job forums for job seekers, meaning an influx of applications for hiring managers or recruiters to sift through. So, when a short list of appealing candidates is finally created, the job interview is the next step in assessing whether an amazing potential employee on paper is as fantastic in real life.
It is through the job interview process that you determine a candidate’s suitability for a role, and the result of which can hinder or help your reputation as a hirer.
Employers are recognizing the importance of quality talent. In an article published by the Society for Human Resource Management the Vice President of editorial, Tony Lee says –
‘Talent acquisition isn’t a cost center that should be squeezed during every budget review. Hiring is an investment in the future, and the companies that adopt this belief will attract the best and brightest candidates.’
There are so many facets to the hiring game, but we’ve collated a list of 9 job interview hacks to perfect the art of the interview and find the ideal candidate for the role.
1. Write an intriguing job ad
There is nothing more yawn inducing than a dull job ad. Even clicking on the link to the job post now seems exhausting. But what if all of a sudden your potential future star employee reads a succinct, clear and intriguing advertisement for a job they’d actually be interested in? A beacon of hope for an awesome job vacancy awaiting their application.
Constructing an appealing and concise job ad is the key to attracting the right sorts of candidates, rather than being another job on the internet that people are uploading their generic cover letter to. If you are a recruiter, ask the hiring manager what a typical ‘day in the life’ in this role would be, ensuring clarity on the responsibilities and expectations that the candidate would need to adhere to. Make the effort in enticing the person reading it, and they’ll make the effort too.
2. Be prepared
Knowing who you are interviewing prior to the interview is an underestimated advantage to have. Being well versed in the candidate’s previous job history and entering their name into the search engine might reveal more information about a person.
Have a structure in place and an ordered question list, whether it be memorized or on a sheet of paper so that you maintain control over the interview, rather than wasting time on one question.
“Be prepared, you will need to communicate effectively and know your audience, remember that they are interviewing you while you are interviewing them (times have changed)” – Shaun McGowan, Co-Founder at Lend Pty Ltd.
3. Ask the right questions
In searching for the ideal candidate, it is imperative to tailor the questions you ask a future employee based on the job they are vying for.
Different companies will have different priorities when selecting their next team member so ensuring that you ask the correct questions could mean the difference between a happy employer and an extremely grateful one.
For example, a company like Google prides itself on hiring forward thinking, intelligent and creative individuals – not just those who are knowledgeable in tech.
4. Keep it in their best interests
Knowing the most you can about a candidate holistically can be extremely beneficial to your cause, keeping in mind that prying too far into one’s personal life isn’t professional.
Asking questions about their hobbies, interests and extracurricular activities could help you determine whether the person is the right fit for the company and if the company is the right fit for the candidate.
Being well informed about a candidate’s future career aspirations and what motivates them about your particular role will also help you immensely in your selection process.
5. Make the candidate feel at ease
A job interview can feel like a performance for a job seeker, a very frightening performance where they are exposed with all their cards on the table. Candidates have spent time working out how to best demonstrate their tricks and preparing themselves for any question that may come their way.
It is important for a recruiter to diffuse any anxieties in the best way that you can and help the candidate feel calm and confident enough to share honest answers to your interview questions.
There are many ways in which a recruiter can achieve this, each will have their own mechanism for doing so. A suggestion would be to ask a few easy questions in the first instance and progress to harder questions or allow them to ask a round of questions. Be personable but not too personal to a point where information gained won’t be relevant to the job.
6. Assess soft skills
When a candidate is presented before you who may not possess the experience or the expertise required for the job, don’t immediately discount their capabilities for the role.
A common misconception is that a potential employee won’t be successful in the role because of their previous qualifications. The truth of the matter is that people can pick up skills and processes easily.
Most can learn an unfamiliar computer programmer or read up on what it takes to write an effective press release, for example. Something that you can’t pick up on paper is personality. This is where soft skills vs experience may be worth weighing up.
Could this person be a great fit for a company? Do all roads point to a yes, but their CV says no? Have a think about how the two balance out?
7. Explore the resumé
Regardless of whether a candidate brings a hard copy of their resume into the interview it is in your best interest to have a copy with you too. Every resume is different and even though a candidate’s resume has got them this far it is wise to dive in at the deep end and delve into the parts you find most interesting. Without a doubt, you will learn something new about the candidate’s personality or previous roles / experience and it could be the difference between a hire and a pass.
Find out what courses they have completed – they may have actively sought a First Aid qualification or started a social basketball team at their last company. These things matter.
8. Write up a pros and cons list
In the final stages of narrowing down a shortlist of great candidates to the best candidate you may be faced with a situation of being unable to decide who best to put forward. With this, go back to your basic intuition of whether each candidate would fit? It is wise to ask some simple questions. What is attracting this person to the role? Will they be a cultural fit? Are there skills matched with those of the day to day job and can you see career progression?
Write a pros / cons list for each of the candidates to simplify the process and gain a clearer understanding of who matches up better than the other.
9. Stay in touch
Job hunting can be a daunting process. We often forget that being left in the dark about a pending application or interview can be disheartening and anxiety building. To keep your candidate happy it will be in your best interest to maintain regular contact with relevant information and next steps.
In a recent article by the Lincoln Journal Star, Scott Wintrip, CEO of Wintrip Consulting Group wrote:
“An increasing number of executives are recognizing the threat posed by empty jobs. They’re no longer willing to allow their organizations to engage in the old way of hiring: keeping a job open until the right person shows up. Instead, they’re requiring department heads to participate in the new way of hiring: cultivating top talent and then waiting for the right job to show up.”
Building a network of great job seeking individuals could set you up for the next request a company gives out. Cultivating an active library of talented people for your client will set you up for the long run, rather than working in isolation from applicant search to hire.