The Sales Recruitment Network UK Ltd

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Why interviews go wrong...

Interviewing is a very subjective thing and most of us learn from the experience of being interviewed ourselves and then, when we move into management, we rely on our line managers or personnel department to guide us in the early days.

Ultimately we all end up with our own style, approach and techniques. It would be very presumptive for anyone to tell you how to conduct interviews; I’m certainly not trying to do that here.

What I would like to do is to share are some of the experiences that candidates have encountered during interviews that have caused them to decline offers.

The list below is by no means comprehensive but is an accurate account of issues I’ve come across this year.

Each of the these has led to at least one exceptional candidate walking away from (or in the case of number one, being overlooked for) a good offer and the company has missed out on an employee who could have made a significant contribution to their business.

1. The list

 

It would be foolish to enter into any recruitment program without two things written down: a detailed job description and some candidate criteria. The latter is a very useful tool in assessing both CVs and candidates.

The problem arises when an employer creates a criteria and then adheres to it rigidly with absolutely no flexibility. Of course some roles require certain qualifications, experience, contacts etc but the more ‘fixed’ criteria you list the less likely it will be to find the ‘right’ person and the more they will cost you. I had an outstanding candidate turned down because he lived five miles outside of a designated catchment area; the company finally compromised on a much less experienced candidate two months later.

2. Too many cooks

 

Ii is often necessary to involve more than one person in an interview, especially at the later stages, this serves a number of obvious benefits.

Problems arise when there is no clear ‘Chair’; interviews can quickly descend into a free for all with candidates being thrown questions from all directions with no cohesion and little time to answer.

It also makes it difficult for an individual to ‘connect’ to his interviewer and vice versa, resulting in a poor interview and making a genuine assessment of the candidate impossible.

3. Time

 

Time is a critical factor in recruitment. While you're sitting on the CV of a good candidate they’re exploring other options. As a recruitment agency we move quickly with good applicants for exactly that reason and having conducted the necessary initial interview we get them to our client asap.

Unfortunately, I’ve waited as long as three weeks just for a response to a candidate submission.

The other bottleneck that often arises is the gap between first and second interview.

This can be slow because it’s difficult to tie in the senior people who need to conduct the interview but it’s much less of a problem if the candidate is kept informed of the situation and it is ‘managed’ properly.

For the candidate, when an application disappears into a black hole of no-communication predictable problems arise; candidates believe that the company has no interest in them; they attend other interviews and accept alternative offers; they lose confidence in the company with the slow response and won’t work with them. The thinking here is if you can’t organise an interview what would you be like to work with?

4. Ambiguous offers

 

I’m surprised how often this happens: ‘We haven’t agreed the bonus scheme’; ‘we don’t know what the target will be’; your salary will comprise of’ X’,’ Y’ & ‘Z ‘and whilst’ X’ is a small amount and it says this is your salary I can assure you it isn’t..’

We all know people work for money and what you’re offering needs to be clear and unambiguous otherwise a lack of confidence or trust will drive the candidate away.

Avoiding these mistakes is not only good practice. The job market is competitive and good candidates are hard to find. Like it or not, if you’re an employer and you want the best candidates you need to ‘sell’ your company and that sales process takes place during the recruitment phase.

As always, if you want something done well with a good outcome do it professionally; as a bespoke recruitment company we can certainly help.

Michael Thomason

 

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