How to Get the Best out of Your Candidate at Interview

Us recruiters interview lots of candidates every day; some stun us for the right reasons, and some render us speechless for others… Sometimes though, interviews can go wrong purely because a candidate is nervous – this can leave us losing out on some really great placements in the process. It’s in your best interests to provide your candidates with advice and support on how to secure the role with your client. Take a look at my top tips on how to get the best from your candidate at interview:

Be clear and informative

Fear of the unknown is one of the main reasons candidates become nervous. Put yourself in your candidate’s position and think of all the things you would like to know before attending an interview; what’s the dress code, will it be in a group scenario or one-to-one, will there be an assessment involved and how many people will be grilling them? Make sure you’ve prepped your candidate and covered all aspects of the process starting with the most obvious. If you don’t know the answer to these questions then ask your client for more information, and let your candidate know in good time. 

Practice makes perfect

Some candidates may not have much experience with interviewing, especially if they’ve been employed by the same company for a long time. Offering them the option of a mock interview with you or someone else on your team will give you the chance to see their areas of weakness, in turn helping you to identify the best ways to assist them before the final interview takes place.

You should try and reflect the interview style of your client where possible; include generic questions and then add in specific, more technical questions that you know to be role specific. Some examples of questions candidates often get stuck with are:

  • “Tell me about yourself.” This is such an open-ended question that candidates are often caught off-guard, causing them to stumble. They should be providing highlights of their educational background, career to date, goals for the future, and injecting a bit of personality with it too – talking about hobbies and interests outside of work are always a good way to demonstrate that they can be a good team-fit.
  • “What makes you think you’re a good fit for this position within our organisation?” The key part here is within your client’s organisation – ensure your candidate knows the business and what it can offer them as well as how they can add value.
  • “What will you achieve in your first year here?” This is a tough one – the client wants to hear that your candidate understands the job role well, so do your best to pass on any snippets of information that may be useful, including what team targets may look like or how the appraisal process works.

Be open

Every so often the subject of salary expectations will crop up in an interview situation – make sure you’ve spoken about this in detail with your candidate before you present their CV to the client! Have an honest conversation with your candidate and find out what they’re thinking with regards to this specific role. It may be that they would be looking for an increase on their initial expectations once they’ve found out a little more about the responsibilities of the job. Pass details like this on to your client in order to avoid an awkward clash over cash at the end of the interview.

Interviews can be scary but supporting your candidates as best as you can definitely makes a difference to their interview experience, and may even earn you a fee in the process. Do you have any secrets on how to make sure your candidates make a good first impression? Leave them in the comments below!

How to manage a candidate job offer

Heidi Gardner

Heidi is PhD student at the University of Aberdeen. Her research focuses on the issues surrounding the recruitment of patients into clinical trials.

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