Hiring in harried times: the interviewer has a job to do also
Q: A question from the other side, if you will. I am hiring somebody at the moment and I fear that the limitations imposed by Covid-19 will reduce my ability to make the best possible selection. For example, I had intended to ask each of the final seven I call to interview to deliver a presentation on ideas they have for the role. Now I’m worried that I won’t get a proper feel for all the candidates. Will it be too stiff and staged? But I have to hire – the ship will sail if I don’t. (AG, email).
A: Hiring is a formidable challenge at the best of times. In fact, I regularly say to candidates that they should not worry too much about an interview – the people on the other side of the table may have more to concern them than the candidate has, because a wrong decision by the hiring team could have huge consequences for their organisation and perhaps even their place within it, writes Liam Horan, Career Coach, Sli Nua Careers.
While the act of recruiting is not exactly my bag, I can offer you some insights about what candidates might appreciate in the process.
- If necessary, offer some IT support to all candidates in the day or so leading up to the interview. Show them the set-up, make them feel at home. This will smooth out any wrinkles that might derail their chances and, by extension, preclude your company from getting the best candidates.
- Make allowances for technology, which could cause problems in terms of buffering the questions, answers or presentations. Expect that something will go wrong and let the candidate know that they needn’t feel this will ruin their chances. Even the cleverest of people on the IT front can be thrown by a new system. Presentations freeze in typical interviews and town hall meetings – the same will happen here.
- From once the interview starts, put the candidate at ease. Take a bit longer to build rapport. Refer to the difficulties caused by the current period – let them see you are all in the same boat. They will appreciate being given this extra bit of attention.
- One of the scourges of the modern Zoom era is people never fully knowing when they should talk. We’re cutting across each other all the time. Make sure that your interview panel understands that it is their job to ask questions and to listen – this is truer now than ever before. Give the candidate breathing space.
- If technology causes problems during the interview, you could perhaps do a follow-up phone call immediately afterwards with the entire panel taking part on speaker. Invite the candidate to raise anything they didn’t cover or seek clarification on anything you weren’t sure about because of the tech problems. In effect, this is part of the interview and is necessary to satisfy yourself that every candidate got a good shot at it – without this, the candidate won’t be happy and you won’t get a good enough overview of all those in the running for the position.
- Overall, be flexible. These are tricky times. Show your humanity. Relax candidates. Give them a break. It’s a time for the carrot, not the stick.
Liam Horan is a Career Coach with Sli Nua Careers in Ballinrobe.
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