6 Interview Tips To Help Your Candidate’s Star Shine

Sep 25, 2012

Candidates must be well prepared for their interviews in today’s competitive job market. Recruiters who go through the effort to source, screen, and submit the résumé of a qualified applicant must also take time to prepare him or her for upcoming interviews. Leaving this part of the recruiting process to chance could result in the loss of a placement; and possibly even a client or two.

When I was in HR, I once had a recruiter send me a candidate who didn’t even know the title of the position she was being interviewed for. She was completely unfamiliar with the company and had no clue what the role entailed. Needless to say, she didn’t get the job and I never used that recruiter again.

Here are a few quick and simple tips for you to help your candidates with interview preparation:

  • Before your candidate is due to have their first interview (typically a phone screen), you should prep him on the personalities of the people with whom he will be speaking. You can send a PDF of the hiring manager’s LinkedIn profile directly to your candidate, and fill him in on any insider information you have. You should direct him to websites like Hoovers and Glassdoor so he can do his own self-directed research about the company.
  • Make sure the candidate has read any available whitepapers and sales materials on the corporate website so she is knowledgeable about what the firm does, which clients they cater to, and what their main product offerings are. If time permits, quiz her on the details to help her prepare.
  • Provide some basic coaching on how best to answer general questions. If you noticed your candidate tends to talk too much, remind him before the interview to be succinct. One strategy that we recommend to our candidates when doing mock interviews is to write and practice short, 30-60 second “elevator pitch” answers. In particular, you want candidates to be able to explain past achievements in a compelling way that will demonstrate value.
  • If having a phone interview, remind your candidate to use a solid land line with reliable sound quality whenever possible. Tell them to be sure to have their résumé handy, and a glass of drinking water at the ready. Choking up during a phone screen is not optimal! Noise can also be a problem. If your candidate has children or pets, be sure they remember to take the phone interview in a quiet place.
  • Encourage your candidate to prepare intelligent, thoughtful questions for the interviewer that show interest. Typically candidates will have the opportunity to ask these questions toward the end of an interview. These sorts of questions can also serve to ferret out any concerns that interviewers may have about your candidate.
    • What kind of impact do you envision me making within the first 90 days of employment?
    • What does the team collaboration model look like on a daily basis?
    • Given what you know about me so far, would you see me as being a solid fit for this role?
  • For in-person interviews, make sure to discuss attire. Often candidates think that because the workplace is casual, they can attend an interview dressed casually. Have an in-depth conversation with them about what they are wearing. The general rule is to dress one level up from the employer’s workplace attire – i.e. if the dress code is business casual, the candidate should dress in business attire.

A recruiter friend of mine once lost a placement because her candidate wore white socks with a dark suit and the hiring manager didn’t like this. I know it is absurd, but don’t leave anything to chance. Suggest to your candidates they ‘err on the conservative side.’ No dangly jewellery or heavy perfumes for the women and no tattoos showing or overbearing aftershave for the men.

Once you schedule your candidate for an interview with your client, have a plan of action that includes comprehensive interview preparation. They must have the full job description (not the abbreviated one you may have posted online) and should also have as much information as possible about the organization and the people involved.

If you have only limited information, share as much as you have. Don’t forget to debrief your candidate after the interview. You can use this opportunity to gather additional details to share with any future prospects you will be submitting. As the alliteration goes, prior planning prevents poor performance.

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