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This article originally appeared in Issue 55 of InSight Published 22 October 2008

This weekend I had one of those all-too frequent embarrassing conversations with a friend about experiences with recruiters. She mentioned she had been to an interview last week with a recruiter and, of course, I asked how it went. She said ‘it was okay, but it was clear the interviewer hadn’t read my resume before I got there as she kept asking for information that I had clearly provided on my resume’.  

If we are serious about providing more than a resume-referral service to our clients, then our candidate referrals need to provide a high value-add component and interview preparation is a critical part of doing that.  
Thorough preparation is essential prior to conducting interviews, to ensure that the 30 to 60 minutes we spend in an interview is time productively and effectively spent. Here’s a preparation for interview list you might wish to use:

1.                       WHAT?   Agreement with the client   regarding the 4 or 5, competency-based key selection criteria. 

WHY?   Unless there is an agreement, you risk assessing the candidate against criteria which the client regards as marginal.

2.                       WHAT?   Prepare behavioural interview questions that request sufficient, specific detail about a candidate’s demonstrated capability   in the 4 or 5, competency-based key selection criteria. 

WHY?   Unless you have prepared the questions, you risk asking each   candidate different competency questions which makes comparing answers, to assess competency, much more problematic.

3.                       WHAT?   Thoroughly review the resume of each candidate to be clear as to what information provided   on the resume you need to validate   (eg depth of current responsibilities), and what information not provided   on the resume, you need to discover   (eg reasons for leaving last 3 positions) during the interview. 

WHY?   Research on resumes would suggest that between 20% to 40% of resumes contain significant omissions or inaccuracies. It’s the job of the interviewer to ensure that the resume they submit to the client is complete and accurate.

4.                       WHAT?   Bring to the interview a copy of the job description and a relevant page or two of information about the client (from the client’s website or elsewhere). 

WHY?   Build credibility with the candidate. What opinion of a real estate agent would you have if they didn’t have a floor plan, couldn’t tell you when the house was built, what the council rates were etc? 

5.                       WHAT?   Have an interview template  . 

WHY?   Such a template greatly enhances your interview structure, ensures you list all the behavioural questions you need to ask, as well as sufficient space to write the answers to those questions .Writing everything on a candidate’s resume makes it much harder, and takes a lot longer, to find the relevant information post-interview. 

6.                       WHAT?   Ask the candidate to bring in any relevant supporting paperwork   (eg. referee names and contact details, originals of visas, degrees, testing etc). 

WHY?   Saves you chasing it up afterwards and helps you validate the candidate’s bona-fides much faster.

7.                       WHAT?   Email the candidate the details of the interview (time, date, place, parking, public transport etc) and then re-confirm by telephone   within 24 to 12 hours prior to the interview. 

WHY?   Candidates may not write things down, may lose the paper they wrote the interview information on, may forget, may get a better sounding interview, or they can’t be bothered etc etc.

8.                       WHAT?   Book   an interview room. 

WHY?   You look like a complete amateur if you keep the candidate waiting for an interview room or you have to interview them in an inappropriate place (eg, reception or a café).  

The success, or otherwise, of most interviews is highly predictable. The first factor is the interviewer being effectively trained in interviewing and the second is the amount of preparation the interviewer does prior to the candidate arriving in reception.

The good news for you is that if the general standard of recruitment interviews is so low (as the Clicks candidate survey confirms), it doesn’t take much for you to stand out from the crowd.  

Note to Sydney readers:   Attend my Interviewing workshop this Friday morning to benchmark your existing skills and learn some new ones.

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This is an excellent article which will help me conduct my interviews at Volunteers ACT.

Thank You Ross

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