Would you want to work with you?

Having been both sides of the table as a candidate and an interviewer I’ve learnt a lot about the recruitment process over the years!

As a Candidate, interviews can be daunting and yet exciting at the same time. You swot up on the job, research the company and the people, learn your CV verbatim and everyone tells you to just ‘be yourself’. But as I reflect back on my interview experiences the more I feel that my performance has often been influenced just as much by the Interviewer and the environment than my own mindset.

I remember once coming out of an interview and feeling so disappointed, not because of my performance but because the agency and the Interview process just didn’t live up to image I had of them. Externally their brand was something I really bought into and had always aspired to, but the interview experience just shattered that perception and made me feel a bit cheated.

Let’s be honest with ourselves, all agencies talk about the importance of Brand consistency yet when it comes to ourselves we often overlook the experience we deliver internally. True?

I sometimes feel that when it comes to the interview process we all tend to lose sight of ourselves. We are so focussed on the person in front of us, asking questions and wondering how they’d fit in, we don’t portray the real us.

So as an interviewer you really need to consider two things:

  • How am I going to get the best out of the candidate and this interview?
  • How am I going to represent my agency and my brand?

Just like the Candidate you need do your own Prep too, and I don’t just mean flicking through the CV and stalking the Candidate on Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter. You need to really try and develop questions that are bespoke to them. Use questions that encourage them to talk about their personality as well a their profession.

Don’t just ask them to ‘talk through’ their CV, you should have read it! Pick out the bits you want to find out more about and be specific. Talk to them about their earlier life when they studied or started their first job. It will give you some real insight into the type of person they are and how they started out.

I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve been asked, “Describe yourself in three words” to which I once replied, “Five Foot Ten”. Surprisingly I actually got the job. But really, what else can you say that’s going to set you apart from the competition with that sort of question? Positive, Energetic, Motivated, not very original.

The same goes for, “what are your strengths and weaknesses?” How can you possibly answer that with any degree of differentiation or honesty?

If you need to ask one of the ‘standard’ questions then look at how you phrase it such as:

From a professional angle: “What do you think your Boss would say if we asked him what you were good at and maybe not so good at?”

From a personal angle: “What do you think your friends would say”?

This sort of phrasing will really help the candidate think more deeply about what you are asking and encourage them to talk in a more open way. Plus it helps lighten the mood.

But ultimately I would urge any interviewer to develop questions that really reflects your agency, your personality and that uses your tone of voice. Which brings me on to how you represent your brand in the Interview process.

Earlier in this Blog I mentioned having my perceptions of an agency completely shattered by the Interview experience. This was a place I’d always had on my radar and my expectations were high. But from the moment I entered the office it all went a bit downhill. I’m obviously not going to go into details but I almost didn’t feel welcome and the questions were so defined I found myself often giving one word answers.

Interviewers really need to think about how they represent their brand to candidates. You never know where that Candidate is going to pop up. If they don’t end up getting the role it’s likely they will end up with a competitor, so think about the way they might talk about their experience with you. They could also end up as a client!!!

My final point relates to the follow up of an interview. As a Candidate I’ve always found it incredibly frustrating that the level of feedback isn’t always as detailed as it should be, especially if you’ve been in on several occasions and invested a lot of time in the process. Make sure your feedback is constructive, honest and prompt. And if you’re not in a position to make a decision, then tell the Recruitment Agency or candidate directly. There is nothing worse than hearing nothing but radio silence.

So as we embark on the next Phase of our recruitment at Fogg, these are the five things I will certainly have in my mind:

1. Think of your candidates as potential ‘advocates’ of your agency.

2. Treat them as if they were a client and give them the full brand experience.

3. Give them the opportunity to be themselves and be yourself too!

4. Make sure you are ready to recruit and ready to make a decision.

5. Respect your candidate. Give through and constructive feedback.

An Interview is not just about a Candidate selling themselves to a potential Employer, it’s about two people finding out if they are right for each other.  You need to find out about them but they need to buy into you and your brand.

It has to be a two way thing.

Kerry Howl 

Marketing Director, Fogg Associates