Bi-directional Interviews, how to show the best of you and your company to your candidate

I always write about how to prepare or do a good job interview, but very randomly about how one must convince, persuade or just perform a good job interview to a candidate as a recruiter point of view.

For a start, a candidate must feel at your company confortable. That includes before, during and after. I need to say that I pay special attention to the details, like the front desk and reception person. This would give you an impression of the company. Independently of any controversy on the person welcoming you and the way is dressed, heels or not, for me the important thing is the cleanliness and atmosphere of the reception.

So welcome your candidate well, show the way. Do not leave the candidate alone in reception. Bring him/her to a meeting room. Waiting for in a reception can make you extremely nervous, everybody will walk through looking directly at the candidate so many times reverse proportional to the size of the company, making the candidate uncomfortable (people are all curious, and all people think is going to be our substitute). A cup of coffee and/or water is always appreciated. Interviews for certain level positions include in my opinion a cup of coffee. I remember some Directors in a company I was working in, who were always offering a cup of coffee when you entered the room. You felt always more relaxed and had more open conversations and less aggressive. Coffee or tea (in my opinion) helps to create a talking atmosphere.

When I am doing interviews as a recruiter I always thank people for coming, for being flexible (to my agenda which is always hectic), and for the patience of the interview about to start (I like details from explanations  i.e.). I tell people in advance how it is going to be. Therefore, I recommend to present (in this order) the company, yourself and your department and the job opening position.

It needs special attention the  presentation of the company. There is a big mismatch generally about what a candidate thinks of the company and what reality is, sometimes for good and sometimes for bad. Same with a position and job description and its duties. Mention the candidate which department will be and really really important for you is to mention the candidate the direct reporting and dotted lines. People automatically for whatever reason, tend to position  him/herself in the reporting and automatically  consider the boss the direct report. But my point is more related to leave clear the position in the company and do not give false expectations. Also in case is not yet decided the reporting lines, mention it politely but also trying not to give an image of lack of organization and/or management. We all understand that companies evolution and the uncertainty will be always based on the good of the company.

The first way to start an interview is giving the chance to the candidate to present him/herself. Listen to the candidate if he/she is able to give a good self-introduction. You would be surprised at this part of the interview by the candidates. Here the candidate generally makes an interpretation of what you want to listen. Therefore it is recommended in advance to guide a bit to the candidate like “would you introduce yourself in terms of experience in the field of…. sector of… evolution of your career… years of experience in Management….etc..” on what you would be interested.

During the interview I personally take a lot of notes because I generally do not want to interrupt. Better always not to interrupt. Remember that you want the best of this person, not the best of oneself. I recommend to interrupt only when candidate is giving either too much information or loosing in examples not interesting for the position. Ask your questions afterwards.

Do not make loose any time the candidates. It sometimes happen, that after some time you feel that (for whatever reason) the candidate is not right for the position. Show respect for the candidate following some questions in a general interview steps and orderly (not to damage the  candidate self esteem)  but stop the interview earlier than expected if you know it will not go further. Time is money.

I try always to avoid direct NOs but I give as much negative information I can in a polite way like “we were looking for candidates with more experience in the field that I could see in the CV” (use conditionals) or i.e. “for us experience in the field is a primary request” and give always a chance on showing either motivation/extra knowledge with phrases like “could you please elaborate more your duties in your last position” or “could you please give more examples of experience in the field of…”. Feedbacks will help the candidate in the waiting hours to have more or less realistic confidence in getting the job.

I have done some difficult interviews where I could not get what I expected from the candidates. But I want to remark the good ones. The best interviews I have done in my life, we both ended up happy and one hour and a half. We were both sides interested in listening. Happy because I had a interesting one to one discussion with an expert, a Manager, a student, a Trainee, engineer, etc.. I could understand the other and he/she could understand the other. This was independently of accepting or not for the position that Person. Therefore ask intelligent questions and give the chance to elaborate a bit more the potential good examples. Ask also some innocent personal questions or make small jokes to relax a bit the candidate pressure.

In the end of the the interview thank the candidate for coming, for the interview done and the motivation for the position. Before it is asked tell the candidate the next steps, why and the decision making people involved. It would help the candidate to understand the company, the organization and the steps. Do not hide anything that the candidate could easily see the first day at work and also he/she can never tell you he/she was deceived. I always say “It is what it is”.

My final conclusion is that as I wrote it is important to take care of the candidate and taking care of the times and steps during the interview. But again the best advice for one interviewer is BE YOURSELF during all these steps. In the end it is a match, if it does not work, it does not work. But at least you tried to be liked by the candidate.




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