HR BLOG: Getting through scary interviews

Interviews. The word itself is enough to stress some of us out. They are the Marmite of recruitment – some people love them and others can’t stand them!

It’s probably because everyone’s had, at one point, the interview where everything went well. The interview where you can say nothing wrong. Where you can leave with your head held high, knowing you’ve really sold yourself. And of course, everyone’s had the interview from hell. The one that you can’t reminisce about without cringing.

Many employers resent the amount of time that interviews take. Therefore, they do not make enough effort in the pre-interview stage, meaning they do not get the most out of them.

The interview scenarios

Unlike many aspects in recruiting, the interview scenario is subjective and dependent on the organisation running it.

If you attended interviews at five different companies, you may have five completely different experiences. They all varying upon, we believe, two factors: people and process.

As a business, if you make either of those negative, you could push talent away. Or even worse – put your organisation in the firing line of a tribunal.

The people matter

Let’s start with people. The approach and style of an interviewer can have a real impact on a person’s perspective of the organisation. First impressions count and interviewers all too often forget that they’re selling the opportunity to the candidate as much as it is the other way around.

Quick-fire direct lines of questioning are great for seeing how candidates operate under pressure. They do not, however, give the employer an idea of what somebody will be like in their day-to-day working lives.

In short, don’t use Jeremy Paxman! He’s great for making politicians squirm, but he’d be terrible for attracting talent to your business.

The interviewing method

Now what about process? This describes each step you take from launching job advertisements, interviewing, DBS checking, inducting and everything else in between. The process you undertake will vary upon the role you’re recruiting for, but please exercise consistency.

Although candidates are not yet employed by you, they can still make claims for discrimination on all protected characteristics. Be consistent in how you select CVs, how you interview and the way that you compare candidates. This could be by preparing key questions in advance and asking each candidate the same ones – this allows you to be more objective.

Of course you may want to have some fun and ask a quirky Oxford University-type question like “If you could design a new musical instrument, what sound would it make?”.

Don’t go rogue in interviews

Sticking to the theme of interviews and process, be mindful that it’s in this sensitive phase of recruiting that most businesses fail.

Consider the girl rejected via text. The lady questioned about her age due to a concern that she wouldn’t have enough energy for the job. Or the woman asked if she was just going to get pregnant and leave. These are all examples of interviewers going rogue and landing the employer in trouble.

How The HR Dept can help

So, whilst the UK’s politicians undergo arguably the toughest interview process throughout this and next week, spare a thought for your own recruitment practices. Are they appropriate? Are they giving your business the talent it needs to meet its goals?

The HR Dept is, of course, here to help and advise. So if you’ve got any questions for us, please get in touch.

Alison Schreiber runs The HR Dept Durham and Darlington franchise, and works with a number of businesses across PBP. For more info, visit HR Dept Durham and Darlington or call Alison on 01325 526036 or 07535 853226.