The first of my school friends to apply for a part-time job returned from his interview successful, but armed with reports of a nerve-wracking interview process. Alongside a group of other hopeful applicants he had been asked: ‘If you were a biscuit, what kind of biscuit would you be?’
At the time, it seemed vaguely ridiculous but ultimately, terrifying. I found myself frantically wondering, what kind of biscuit am I? What characteristics do I share with a mint slice? Would a wagon wheel demonstrate my varied skill-set?
Now as a recruiter, who spends much of the day interviewing candidates, I can confirm that asking someone what kind of biscuit they are is more than vaguely ridiculous – and not just because biscuits have no conceivable hireable qualities.
Having spent the last 6 months honing my own interview techniques, I was prompted to reminisce on some of my own experiences and reflect on what helps to make an excellent interview.
Here’s a couple of things I’ve learnt:
Interviews don’t have to be terrifying to be effective
The two best interviews I’ve personally had shared a number of important similarities:
- The hiring manager was prepared, relaxed and conversational from the get-go
- I was encouraged to give examples when discussing my skills, competencies and achievements
- They were not at all terrifying
An interview really needn’t be overly formal or intimidating. In fact, by using the first few minutes of the interview to get acquainted my interviewers allowed me to move past my nerves and focus on communicating clearly and effectively.
When your interview becomes a conversation, you’re better able to express the points you need to put across; it gives the interviewer a real sense of who you are, what motivates you and what you’ll actually be like to work with.
A fully prepared candidate is the best kind of candidate
A better prepared candidate will give a better interview. Interviews should not be seen solely as an opportunity to put a candidate ‘on the spot’ or ‘see how they react under pressure’.
Of course, you don’t want to give your candidate all the answers but even a heads up as to your company’s interview style can do a lot to relieve nerves and set expectations.
Some ways to prepare your candidate:
- Provide a full position description in advance
- Explain who they’ll be meeting with
- Briefly describe the interview set up – formal or informal? Structured or conversational?
- Provide a brief agenda on what you’ll be covering
Giving candidates an opportunity to properly prepare means hiring managers can set high expectations, interviews are streamlined and you’ll get the best out of your candidate.
Poor communication during the interview process can leave candidates frustrated or disgruntled which will ultimately damage your brand.
Be open and forthcoming about remuneration details
More than once I’ve had to ask for explicit salary details during an interview. Given that salary and benefits are the reason we seek employment to begin with, there is nothing to lose by being transparent about the remuneration details. Relationship building with a new employee starts at the first interview and a disregard or sense of awkwardness around this subject will quickly lose a candidate’s trust and respect.
Obviously, as a candidate, you have no control over how your interview will be run, but a great interview is a taste of what’s to come once you have a position within the company. So, if being asked to compare yourself to a biscuit is as good as it gets, the job probably won’t be your cup of tea.
By Claudia Bellwood, Temp Consultant, Rusher Rogers
For more musings from Claudia, you can read our blog here.