Author: Laura Mazzullo
Yes, you’ve all seen dozens of articles on interview tips for candidates. Most are designed to assist candidates in improving their interview techniques to ultimately increase their chances in landing their ideal job. But, what about the interviewer? How are we helping them increase their chances in securing their ideal candidate? Are we to assume all hiring managers know how to interview perfectly? Or, like candidates, do we know that all interviewers can benefit from tips and pointers to help them? Just as candidates at all levels welcome new techniques/pointers to help them on a search, so should Managers.
Why should Managers consider how they are interviewing? In this candidate-driven climate, candidates are being quite discerning and critical about organizations they are exploring. The interviewer and his/her disposition will strongly contribute to the candidate’s interest (or lack thereof) in pursuing the opportunity further. How an interviewer interviews is incredibly important in terms of building employer branding, candidate experience and offer acceptance!
What needs to be done? Internal Talent Acquisition teams should be partnering with their Learning and Development teams to create company-wide interviewing training for managers. Interviewers must be trained! Managers must have up-to-date information on today’s market and today’s candidate. As the job-market is always changing, so must the way interviews are conducted.
How can Interviewers improve? I’ve been receiving a lot of feedback recently from candidates regarding what they want during interviews. I also have been noticing ways in which Managers can be improving to match the expectations of these discerning candidates. I hope these pointers help:
1. Address concerns directly to the interviewee When interviewing, if you have a concern about what you’re hearing…address it! By addressing concerns, you give the other party a chance to explain it further. Equally, you are initially creating a climate of transparent communication which is a key component to a successful hire. Deliver the concern in a kind way but tell the interviewee you need more information, clarification and you want to learn more. Where most Managers go wrong is they tell a candidate “So nice to meet you, I think you’re great for the role!” and then go back and tell their Recruiters they had XYZ concerns. Address them directly with the candidate and you’ll be amazed at how you can make communicative breakthroughs with them that can lead to a successful hire.
2. Cheer up if you’re having a bad day (or don’t go in!) So many candidates recently have shared experiences with me where they’ve interviewed with a cranky individual. I have heard the gamut from Managers yawning during interviews, answering their phones, not making eye contact, never cracking a smile, rushing them along…and I wonder, why did they even conduct the interview? If you’re having a rough day, you have two choices: 1) You can regroup and recognize that you are about to make a huge impression on someone (and ultimately your company brand) and walk in with a kind/friendly approach or 2)you can tell your colleague “Look I’m having a rough day and am super frazzled. Would you mind taking this interview for me?” I recognize option 2 doesn’t always work depending on who else is approved to be on the interview panel, but don’t be ashamed to ask for help if you need it. Your disposition during an interview greatly impacts your ability to attract/hire top talent. You want to ensure you are friendly and engaging. Everyone has bad days. Just make sure you’re not interviewing when you’re cranky!
3. Understand their motivators A candidate told me today “I think companies just hire the person that they need for the role, they don’t care what I want”. If that’s what some companies are doing, it doesn’t work. The approach should be “I want to better understand this candidate, know what motivates and drives them, and see if I can offer them a solution in our firm.” This means asking lots of questions around their ideal role, ideal environment, ideal manager, ideal career trajectory and really being honest if you are the right mentor/firm for them. Instead of interviewing them to ‘fit’ what you need, think about fitting what they need. It also may mean a role needs to be customized for the ideal candidates, or that a few things need to be tweaked on the initial candidate ‘wish-list’: these are all creative solutions that can occur when you fully understand a candidate and what they want.
4. Answer the tough questions Create a climate for the candidate where they feel comfortable asking you the tough questions (i.e. That awful review they read on Glassdoor, the enormous turnover they’ve heard about on your team, the concerning things they’ve heard about the work/life balance at your firm). You want to address those concerns and answer those tough questions for them. Many Managers want to avoid these ‘elephants in the room’ and pretend they aren’t there. That’s unrealistic. Every single firm will have a negative concern to overcome and as an interviewer- it’s your job to be trained on how to overcome those objections and answer the tough questions! Don’t shy away from the tough conversation…embrace and welcome it. It will show the interviewee that you are transparent, communicative and straight-forward.
5.Don’t play hard to get If you really like a candidate during the interview, let them know. Ask them if they have any concerns you can address, questions you can answer and ensure you know their interest level. But, by all means, share your interest level with them! In this competitive marketplace, candidates are being courted by a number of your competitors at the same time you’re contacting them. This means, you have to tell them how great you think they are! This “poker-faced” interviewing style that’s been around for a while doesn’t work in today’s market. Crack a smile, build rapport, tell them they’ve made a good point when they have, tell them you agree with them when you have…don’t hesitate to share positivity. If a candidate knows they did well, their interest level typically grows.
Laura Mazzullo is founder and owner of East Side Staffing, a boutique recruitment firm specializing in the placement of Human Resource Professionals. More information can be found about Laura and East Side Staffing at www.eastsidestaffing.com.