Everyone claims to listen to others; indeed, many people make such a statement and truly believe it. But how often are the complaints you hear about one person from another about their perceived inability to listen? Or, it may simply be an attitude problem. Equally, a lack of skills may be a cause; it’s amazing that we spend so much time teaching kids to speak, yet never to listen!
You might be wondering whether this recruitment blog post is aimed at those being interviewed or the people conducting such interviews. The answer is both. Let’s look first at some of the barriers to effective listening.
What gets in the way of serious listening?
There are two keys areas here: environment and attitude. The first should be dealt with quite easily. When effective online recruitment processes deliver candidates for a face-to-face interview, it should be held in a private place – sight and sound – with no interruptions. Sight is included here because a location where the outside can be seen, and can be seen into, easily distracts as much as any noise factors.
Moving on to attitude, the question could easily be: ‘Where do we begin?’ From the interviewer who doesn’t really want to be undertaking the role, to the individual who is simply seeking answers that confirm their beliefs, feelings or even prejudices, it’s an extremely large ball-park! For the interviewee, often nerves play a part, or an eagerness to be heard making what they consider to be the ‘right’ noises.
Each party to a recruitment interview should have a positive attitude to it, they should appreciate exactly what they want to achieve from it. A joint intent, if you like, is to achieve ‘matching’ – where a candidate for a position fits the bill, and that person sees the organisation as one they are keen to work for. Such an intent places clear responsibilities on both sets of shoulders.
Let’s sweat the small stuff
So far, we have focused on the bigger interview picture, its objectives and processes. Yet, as it progresses, interview listening is equally about recognising the smaller signals that are offered. It’s also worth remembering here that you should listen with your eyes just as much as your ears. Matching the attitude and behaviour to the actual words allows signals to be identified and acted upon.
Using these skills, you can start to identify ‘sort of’ answers – ones that obviously don’t tell the full picture. Here are some examples of phrases that highlight this: ‘I don’t usually…’ ‘Most times I would…’ ‘Well, it’s not normal for us to…’ and even ‘Well, I prefer to…’ If you were a police officer interviewing a suspect, these answers would be the dodgy alibi that needs to be fully checked! In interview situations, this doesn’t mean that people are being obtuse or deliberately misleading; it simply means that there is more of a story still to be told about this area or subject.
A complete post about listening skills in recruitment interview situations could probably be of Old Testament length. This one should help you to set an effective environment to enable listening, and also to be that little bit more aware of what is said – and may not be.
Here’s a controversial statement:
Interviews are scarier for interviewers than interviewees.
Not only do you have the responsibility of structuring the interview, knowing exactly what you want and bringing the best out of a candidate, you have some pretty tough decisions to make at the end of it. Life-changing decisions, in fact.
But, before you go into interviewer meltdown, here are some tips to make sure you are fully prepared for the task ahead.
1. Know your business.
Not just your job.
That moment at the end of every interview when you ask the candidate if they have any questions? Make sure you can answer them. Whatever they may be. What skills does the business need long-term? Be ready to spot talent and think outside the box. They may not be right for this precise role but if you know the entire business inside out, you will be in a position to refer them, develop them and potentially hire someone who has the ability to make an impact in a way you never thought possible. So, re-learn your business in the same way that your potential candidate will be learning it for the first time. And don’t get caught out.
2. The last minute CV print-out.
A cursory glance over a candidate’s CV five minutes before they walk in the room just isn’t going to cut it. Prepare for the interview in the same way your candidate will have. If they knew your name in advance, presume they have researched you on Linkedin (maybe on Facebook too, god forbid) and do the same back. That way you can tailor your questioning to a real understanding of that person, getting the most out of your time together. Remember, you are both on trial here.
3. Start as you mean to go on.
Make the beginning of the interview as positive as possible. Putting your candidate at ease is going to help you analyse their suitability far more easily than if they are stressed or on edge. So start by giving information, rather than with the hard questions. Talk a little about your role, the vacancy, how it fits in with the business as a whole. Make them feel excited about the position and ease them into questions based on your knowledge of their experience. Remember when you’ve been on the other side and make this interview memorable for the right reasons.
4. Be specific.
This is where your knowledge of the candidate’s experience will really come into play. Dig deeper into their CV. What did that project return for the business? How did they create company buy-in for that campaign? A good candidate with a robust CV will relish these opportunities to share their expertise and knowledge. A bad candidate will expose themselves. An easy decision for you.
5. Culture first.
The last thing you want to do is be responsible for bringing in ‘that guy’ to the business. The one that simply doesn’t fit in, is difficult to work with and, no matter how extensive their experience, just never feels part of the team. Leave time in the interview for finding out about the person behind the CV. What do they do out of work? Generic answers won’t do here, do a bit of digging, where were they last weekend? Does that resonate with how your business or department operates? It’s not just about do you like them: will they bring that something extra to your company that it needs? And, from their point of view, will this be an enjoyable place for them to work? Only you can answer that one…
We can help you prepare for the task of interviewing. Just give our team a call and we will talk you through the process from start to finish. Or follow us on twitter for more interviewer insights.
Don’t tell anyone that we told you, but recruitment is pretty scary. And we aren’t talking about your candidates’ sweaty palms before an interview. Whether it’s the responsibility of HR, in-house recruitment teams or your partner agency, the whole process is challenging from start to finish. Because it is important to get it right.
And, when it goes wrong, it can go spectacularly wrong.
We have been looking at the biggest factors that can send your recruitment campaign spiralling out of control, and how you can manage them. Because, when it comes to getting it right, we know how to keep those recruitment demons at bay…
1. Too few candidates.
Here’s one that’s bound to get your heart racing. Is it me? Is it us? Was it something I said?
You put your job ad out with all the confidence in the world but nobody is ‘swiping right’ on your company. Gutted. Here’s where your arsenal of online recruitment tools come in. One of the biggest factors in recruiting the wrong person is that there simply wasn’t enough choice in the first place. So, cast your net wide but still set your campaign out in a targeted way from the start. Use our Campaign Builder to make sure you are communicating the right message to the right person at the right time. And then you can feel safe in the knowledge that your decision is an informed one, and not about picking the best of a bad bunch. That kind of relationship is never going to last.
2. Too many cooks.
Having everyone involved in every stage of the recruitment process may feel like the right way to go about things. And it would be, if everyone could agree about everyone they met. But too many subjective opinions too early on can confuse matters and send your tightly planned campaign way off track. Our advice? Ask yourself some precise questions and stick to them: who really counts in this process and at what stage? As specialists in the online recruitment process we can guide you through the entire process, vetting and filtering candidates as we go, so your team can work on a far more productive ‘need to know’ basis, saving everyone a lot of potential arguments. For us, it starts with getting under the skin of your existing company structure, so we ask the important questions first, saving you time and money in the long run.
3. References? What references?
The best of the best recruiters do not see references as a final ‘sign off’, they uncover and use information they get from referees to inform their decision. Too often recruitment processes play ‘tick box’ with this most useful and informative part of the process. That’s why we spend time investigating references and, crucially, asking the right questions. Because, if anyone knows, it’s the previous employers. And it’s not just about finding out whether your candidate was forthcoming on the brew round (although, obviously, that’s going to be part of it…)
4. Say what you want…
It might be crystal clear to you, but is that job description really worded correctly for the type of people you want to attract? Whether it is a new or existing role, taking the time to get all the information down in a structured and thought out way could be the difference between your dream candidate picking up the phone, or not. And, trust us, there’s a skill to it. Start by being as open as possible. The recruitment process should not be the test, leave that to the interview. Lay it all on the line and be transparent. The right candidates will thank you for it.
5. Past experience vs. future potential
How you analyse applicants based on their experience or what they could bring to your business can feel like a bit of a tightrope. Pay more for the old dog who may be reluctant to learn new tricks or invest in the young pup who hasn’t been tried and tested? This comes down to the person and there can be no hard and fast rules. Just go in with your eyes open and remember, if it feels right, it probably is.
For every job role, every business and every candidate the recruitment process can feel like a minefield. And mistakes can be costly. At Net Recruit our approach is built upon understanding your business and the potential pitfalls from the start. Then we create a campaign that helps you minimise the scary bits to ensure you arrive at the best results. So, stop hiding under the duvet. Let’s beat the recruitment monsters together.
Find out more by following us on twitter or checking out our easy to use Campaign Builder.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could read the mind of your interviewer?
Until we learn how to do that, being prepared with some of the most commonly asked questions can really set you up for a killer interview. Whilst we don’t recommend a ‘canned’ response to questioning, knowing what could be asked and what you will say will help you feel more confident, and stop you being caught off guard.
These are some of the topics you are more than likely to be quizzed on in job interviews, and how you could respond.
1. What do you know about the company?
This is not an opportunity to demonstrate how good you are at memorising the ‘About’ page on their website. Instead, demonstrate an understanding of the company goals, and how they align with your own. By showing that you understand and appreciate the vision of the business you are already fitting in with their culture, ambition and values. Hiring you should be a no-brainer.
2. Why should we hire you?
Don’t be shy! If you are asked this question you are in luck. It gives you the ultimate springboard to sell yourself, and that is exactly what an interview is all about. You can do the job, you can deliver great results and you can be part of the fabric of the business. This is your chance, don’t waste it.
3. What is your greatest weakness?
Aaaah! The dreaded question! Do you reel of a list of personal afflictions and remain humble or say you’re perfect and high five them on the way out? Finding the middle ground with this question is key. Be prepared with something you are working on. Like: “I have found public speaking challenging in the past but my recent role requires team management and I am finding new ways to develop this skill.” Hired.
4. What are you looking for in a new job?
Read the job specification. And then read it back to them.
5. What do you like to do outside of work?
Bit of advice: get a life. Telling them you like to go out and get pissed every Saturday night is not going to cut it. Think about what makes you tick, and do your research. If you’re fortunate enough to know who is interviewing you before you walk in the room you might find you have something in common. Love camping or languages or maybe you studied art in college? Consider this a first date and be interesting. It’s not just your work ethic they are interested in.
Most of all, have faith in your abilities. They want to meet you so you’re already in the game. It’s up to you to close it down.
Plus, you probably have never been in situation as bad as some of these terrible interviews, check them out here or contact us to find out how to nail the perfect interview.
When an interview goes badly you just know it.
From cringey to awkward to downright hostile we’ve all been locked in a room before that we just can’t wait to escape from. Hopefully you’ve never been in a situation as bad as some of these though. Take comfort in the fact that there is always someone who has messed it up worse than you.
Here are 5 things you should never do in an interview. And yes, they all actually happened. Get ready to hide behind the sofa.
1. Taking a call.
We don’t care if your mum needs you to pick up milk on the way home or if your wife is going into labour. Interviewers see nothing ruder than you picking up the phone halfway through a question. Turn it off and focus on the task in hand. If you’ve got somewhere more important to be then be there instead.
2. Nicknames aren’t cool.
“Hi, I’m Dave but my friends call me Dave The Rave”. Having a personality is cool, having a nickname is not. You are not there to make friends. You may get some smiles in the room but you won’t get the job. Be professional and wait until you’re hired to show your true colours. I’m sure they will give you a new nickname in no time, you party animal you…
3. Don’t cry about it.
If you’re asked a tough question or feel under pressure, for god’s sake, hold it together. Your interviewee is not your therapist. Take a deep breath and open a bottle of wine when you get home. If you break in the interview you’ll never cope in the office. And no matter how nice they are about it, if you start to cry you’ve lost the job. Be strong. It’s not going as badly as you think.
4. Know what you want.
If you fail to prepare you prepare to fail. Cheesy but true. Don’t get the business confused with the competitors you’re interviewing with tomorrow. Don’t act like this meeting has come around unannounced and seriously, don’t forget your interviewer’s name. Being able to demonstrate your planning skills also shows you have passion for the role. Be clear that you are entering this meeting with one objective, to win that dream job.
5. Don’t go over the top.
Have an understanding of the expectations of the interview. You might be able to pull off a killer musical theatre act, but now is not the time to showcase those skills. And yes, we have heard of candidates putting on a performance for their interviewers. Cringe.
The best advice we can give you is to be prepared. You can check out our top tips for planning question responses here. In the meantime, remember the more prepped you are the less likely you are to find yourself in one of these awkward situations.
If you would like to have a chat with your recruitment team on interviews planning, get in touch. Although the musical theatre thing, that was one of ours. Just a warning.
Here’s a great little piece of online recruitment knowledge we’d like to share with you…
Why should I hire you? – this is one of the most daunting questions you can be asked by a recruiter in an interview. How do you answer this? If you already know what the employer is looking for in your answer then it makes answering it a little bit easier.
They want to know if you match up to the requirements of the position. List your experiences and how these are transferable to this position. Also add any other experiences you may have that will benefit the role further.
They will want to know that you will fit in well with their company. Explain how you are a team player, hard worker, committed and adaptable to situations and changes – when/if the going gets tough you can pull you weight. Do your homework on the company and praise their products, service, reputation etc.
They will also want to know that you are committed to the job. Tell them how you are hard- working, motivated and dedicated. This is the job you want. It’s not just a stepping stone in your career and that you want to contribute to the success of their company.
Now that you know why the interviewer is asking this question, you will be better prepared with your answer, if you enjoyed this post then be sure to subscribe to our online recruitment blog for lots more related articles full of recruitment tips, advice and help.