The thing about first impressions is you only get to make them once.
The good news is that your agency or in-house team have booked twenty interviews, they’ve responded to the SMS reminder sent that morning, and they are due to start arriving in the next hour. Part 3 of this guide will walk you through best practice interview preparation because first impressions matter. This article is based on the trials and tests of fifteen years of f2f recruitment – disregard at your peril.
The Interview Scenario
The first decision you need to make is whether you are going to run a group interview or a succession of individ
ual ones. Both have their pro’s and con’s. Individual interviews are a great way to interrogate your potential new recruits and ensure you have a true value match, but taking even ten minutes per person will mean that you need to block-out the entire afternoon to see them all. You need to decide whether this is an investment you can afford. Group interviews lack the personal touch, but do allow you to see how they operate in a team, run exercises in the streets and can save a lot of time. If run correctly, both can offer the required levels of fear of loss and Jones theory to keep your applicants eager and engaged.
Once you’ve selected your choice of scenario, you now need to prep the office and the team. Your office needs to look the part. Assuming you do not have the budget for an interior decorator you can arm a group of friends or family with the job adverts you’ve posted and invite them in to cast their virgin eyes on your office space. Ask them to be honest and suggest any changes to match both the advertised and actual impressions of the area. If I were to attend a job interview for a hedge-fund management role, I would not expect to walk into a mouldy office adorned with bins overflowing from empty McDonalds cartons and a ‘Free Tibet’ poster dangling from the wall – if you show disconnect here, you will plant a seed of doubt of the authenticity of your brand.
To hammer-home this point, you can dress your walls with branded certificates, awards, charity posters, photos from shifts, nights out and community work you’ve done.
Make sure that your receptionist, admin, recruiter or whoever meets them at the door is aware of their appointment and is expecting them. This is where you can have some easy wins. Sit the applicant with a group of other applicants to show them that there is competition for spaces, but use this time to watch them interact with the others. Ask your receptionist/admin for their feedback on what they’ve witnessed.
The correct timing of the interview is vital. Offer time slots when the potential new-starts will interact with existing teams to show that you are a successful company. Straight after the morning impact or team meeting is best, as they’ll see a lot of animated and energised people, just like them, smiling and laughing. As an extra bonus, you can bring a newly promoted Team Leader into the interview to evidence growth and opportunity, that also doubles as a reward to the new TL.
Your applicant needs to feel that you are organised and reliable. This feeling will educate and placate their fears of distrust and will appease their worries around potential HR issues and being paid on time – all the things their loved ones warned them about you. To reduce these doubts, your interviewer should have already read the CV and cover letter and have questions concerning work and life experiences, and appear interested in the answers. The area of interview technique is a three-day lecture or 100,000 words, so the best and simplest advice is to be honest, have a clear plan, and although this shouldn’t have to be said, do not be inappropriate. If you are unsure whether you should say something, don’t.
Once your interview is over, thank them and confirm the next steps of calling to confirm whether they have been successful or not. Sticking to these steps shows more reliability and integrity. Make the call later that day, and give them a timeframe to expect it.
On completion of all Parts 1, 2 and 3 of this guide you have insured against wrongful expectations, unwanted opinions and distrust of your organisation. Your candidate will not only be suitable for the role, but they will trust your organisation and want to work for you. Parts 4 and 5 will discuss Initial Training and the first day in the field.