Candidate Interview Prep for Recruiters

Recently we gave you this Hunted article which detailed how to go to a recruitment job interview and walk out with the gig. When you’re an established Recruiter, interviews become more about them, than you. You know your skills, your performance and why you’d be a good option for any potential employer.

You’re effectively selling yourself every day, so doing it again in an interview shouldn’t be a stretch.

In today’s article however we’re imparting advice, on how to give advice. A kind of interview inception, if you will.

A checklist of ‘best practice’ tips, so your interview to placement ratio starts turning in your favour.

1. Know The Process

It’s pretty difficult to coach someone on a process if you don’t know what it is. So finding out about the expectations of a client’s absolutely paramount to guiding a candidate successfully. What’s expected may differ depending on the Manager or department too so just because you’ve worked with a client before doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ask.

How many stages are there? Are there any tests? Do they need to do a presentation? When will an offer be made? How many people are interviewing your candidate? What kind of competition do they have?

As with a lot of areas of recruitment, sound questioning will stand you in good stead. You don’t want to be on the phone to a candidate and not know the answer to one of their queries.

Preppy Nerd

2. Get Preppy

Unless you’re like one of those weird and over protective parents who accompany their fully grown child into an interview and clean their face aggressively with a handkerchief, you won’t be there for this one.

Therefore, telling them what to expect is obviously important.

But there’s also a fair amount of consulting to do too. They say assumption is the mother of all… ‘fudge’ ups. So assuming your candidate can interview well is a sure fire way of making no placements. Once you’ve told your candidate what to expect, you need to make sure they’re prepared.

There’s a difference between these parts.

The first part sets expectations. 

The second (and most crucial) part actually checks they’ve thought about how they’ll deliver to those expectations.

If a candidate’s under prepared, they won’t get the job. But, worse than that, the client’s likely to expect under prepared candidates from you in the future. Which won’t do your relationship any favours.

3. It’s Not a Test, It’s Coaching

When you’re dealing with candidates at the higher end of the spectrum, you might experience hesitation in checking up on how well they interview. You might even get some that push back. And some may not even want to hear anything you’ve got to offer on the subject.

There’s a difference however between patronisingly questioning someone’s ability and coaching.

To get around this, ask your candidate what their success rate is at interview. If it’s 100%, then you don’t have to worry too much.

But asking whether they want to run through any questions and answers before the date’s a priceless exercise. This will give you a great opportunity to assess how well they’ll do, and more importantly address any deficiencies.

Baseball Coach

4. Contract or Perm?

The kind of job you’re recruiting for should determine the type of interview your client’s conducting.

I’d imagine virtually all contract or interim positions at a client could be done over the phone. You might not get a feel for a candidate’s personality over the phone, but is that needed? Maybe if that personality is paramount to the role, but interim or contract placements should be less about character fit, and more transactional.

If they’re interviewing for a permanent role, you already know personality fit might come into it. And you, hopefully, know what kind of character their future boss will be. Use that information wisely. Give them pointers above and beyond key skills and directions to the front door.

5. Suits You, Sir

The ‘look’ your candidate decides on for their interview is an extension of the character they’re showing. They’ll be judged on it by the interviewers. Therefore make sure you know what to expect from them and the client.

It’s always safe to assume that being slightly overdressed is better than being underdressed. But narrowing down just how far out those parameters are is a good exercise.

6. Questions, Questions

However the interview’s gone, your candidate should have questions at the end. If they don’t it shows a severe lack of interest. Run through some with them beforehand to make sure they’re on the money.

If the target for this interview is getting the job, then it’s important to ask pertinent questions that will frame the conversation in the right way.

But, be careful in your approach to this. There are many stages to an interview process, and asking irrelevant queries may not maximise the end of the interview, which is a crucial point. A Manager may not know about the future of the business. Just like a CEO may not know about individual project scope.

Tailoring your candidate’s specific interview questioning will mean you can thrash out any strategies when the end of the meeting arises.

Control Centre

7. The Nerve Centre

Interviews can be stressful and nervy events. And different people have varying ways of rising to (or running from) that stress.

Advice about body languagedress code and questioning will set the tone, but there’s absolutely no substitute for meeting your candidate in person. Judging for yourself how they’ll fare will mean you can help them on a much deeper level and settle any nerves.

Mindfulness is a good thing to tell them about. And so is setting their mindset. Small things like referring to it as a ‘meeting’ rather than an interview will subtly adjust their thought process.

Equally, recent research from Harvard’s Business School shows being excited prior to a nerve-wracking task increases performance and confidence. So a candidate being excited about the possibility of an interview could be an ace up their sleeve and eradicate any jitters.

8. Wish ‘Em Luck

At the end of the day, you won’t be in your candidate’s interview. So there’s not much you can do to alter its course as it happens. Imparting advice from one candidate to another is a good idea however, so make sure to do a proper and full debrief following the event.

If they’ve thought about the process and have everything planned, you’ve covered as many of the bases above as you can.

Wish them luck.