Soft Skills When Interviewing

Recently, I supported a global business in their search for a Business Development Director. It was great. I helped them define the brief, met every single candidate face-to-face, provided feedback and helped them define a shortlist. I was then involved with the final face-to-face meetings as a HR presence. I realised quite quickly that whilst the people conducting the interviews were seasoned experts in their field, they were missing some of the ‘recruitment basics’ I would want to be crystal clear on.

After the first interview, the advice I gave them was pretty straightforward, and I felt like it really helped to shape the rest of the interviews:

Firstly, set your stall out and explain to the interviewee what is actually happening. Rather than diving straight into the questions, introduce the people in the room, and let the interviewee know their roles and why they are present. Try to make the candidate feel at ease in the room before jumping in to ask ‘explain to us the complexities of the technology you are involved with?’.

The next tip I gave them was to focus on understanding the motivations of the candidates. Yes, you can ask all the technical questions under the sun, and the market and product match might be fantastic, but for a long-term hire, motivations and aspirations are key, so don’t let them leave the room without finding out what these are. Find out what makes the candidate tick, what really gets them out of bed in the morning and importantly what their short-term and long-term career goals are. Secondly, ask yourself whether these goals link in with your business objectives and whether you can then use this as leverage to sell your company to the candidates.

Next, box off the candidate’s reason for leaving their current job. I explained that this seems really simple but doing so maintains good practice. Yes, your recruiter will ask this when they interview candidates, but make sure you are happy with the reasoning. Ask yourself does it make sense, do you understand it, and above all else, is it consistent with the reasons I received?

My final pointer was to leave a great impression to all the candidates who took the time to meet with them. Explain the next steps in the process, ask them to contact the recruiter with any follow up questions they may think of and thank them for their time. Again, it seems really simple but it’s powerful to leave candidates feeling like they have had a great experience with your company.

So there you have it: whilst your focus may rightly be on typical questions surrounding experience and expertise, to create a fully rounded interview process, you need to start with a great introduction, conclude with a clear next steps for all candidates and focus on understanding motivations and aspirations during the interview. With these tips in mind you should make candidates feel at ease and as a result feel more comfortable giving honest answers to your questions.

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