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The Recruiter guide to the Interview Process


Going for an interview is often said to be one of the most dreaded experiences a person has to do in their working career. We worry about what the interviewee will think about us, are we good enough for the role in question, is what I’m wearing appropriate and will they trip me up with their questioning?

This is just a small selection of questions that runs through an individuals mind in the build up to their interview. These feelings and emotions are quite normal, any candidate wants to showcase themselves and their knowledge in the best possibility light, however it’s so easy to stumble, get confused and go off message when you’re faced with such a high pressured and unnatural process.

On the other hand, a candidate can be ultra prepared and ready for the task at hand, however if the interviewer is dis-organised, not interested and not aware of the information and the importance of the interview they are hosting, the whole process can be a waste of time, and in some cases give off a negative perception of the company.

As one of the world’s leading healthcare recruitment specialists, Prospect Health, is able to provide a guiding insight into what makes an interviewer tick and at the same time how a company can ensure they are holding the best possible interview in the short time available, to impress and collate as much information from the potential candidate.

Leigh Skinner, CEO of Prospect Health, said:

“The recession has made the recruitment process much more of a client-led market. Companies essentially had the pick of the bunch, however the past couple of years has seen the tide changing, with much more focus on the candidate again, with the best talent being sought after. An applicant needs to make sure they have the intelligence and knowledge for the role, but from a company’s perspective, they need to position themselves in the right and effective way to attract the best and most interested talent.”

This white paper looks at how both candidates and companies can be prepared for the interview process, what’s changed over the past five years and what’s next for the recruitment process.

Being interviewed

An interview is the key time for a candidate to impress a potential employer. In other walks of life, first impressions aren’t as crucial as you have the chance, and the time, to change these opinions. In this scenario, time is finite, therefore a first impression can make or break your future career. 

Thanks to the power of the internet and social media, candidates are far more prepared for the interview compared to that of 20 years ago. Relying sorely on reputation and word of mouth, companies used to have the upper hand when it came to the interview process.

Today, all the information you could ever dream of is that the candidates finger trips, through just a few simple clicks of a mouse. From knowing the company history, financial reports, services to even down to knowing what the interviewer did that weekend, this is all available for the candidate to view.

Leigh Skinner explains: “The Boston College Career Center stated that you can never be too prepared, with knowledge brings power and this leads to the candidate asking good and informative questions. The internet and social media provide portals for candidates to learn if this is the right place for them.”

As a candidate you have the power to truly showcase your knowledge and understanding of your skill set. But above all else it’s about personality. More than ever companies and organisations look for a particular character or personality trait in a person, rather than solely focusing on academic qualifications. It’s about knowing how to communicate with another human being.

Leigh adds: “Your first two minutes of an interview are crucial, it’s these 120 seconds that will really demonstrate your level of interest, your personality, how prepared you are and how at ease you are with the process. This is the time that you need to shine through. This will set you in good stead for what lies ahead.”

So what will really help you secure that all important role? As true experts in their field, the recruitment consultants at Prospect Health, have shared their findings and insights into how to perfect the interview process.

Post interview

Before the interview is always a nerve-wracking time, it’s essential that you use this time wisely as you will never get it back. Preparation is key to ensure you impress the interviewer but also to ensure you feel comfortable throughout the session. The team at Prospect Health speak to hundreds of candidates every week, so what trade secrets do they share with them? The team explains:

“Prepare yourself for the role, talk through what your daily responsibilities are and ensure you can back up with evidence how you will be able to achieve and excel in a specific area.

“Mentally audit your past achievements, there’s nothing better than be able to refer back to previous examples of where you’ve made a work situation better. Remember everyone loves a scenario.

“Run through your notes and questions the morning before the interview. Don’t be afraid to ask as much as possible. Show that you are keen and engaged about the role in question.

“Be early, not mega early as people are busy and get annoyed, time it well. Five – 10 minutes before hand is pretty spot on.

“If in doubt, dress smart. But think about the company; is it corporate, creative or casual? Dress appropriate for the place. And make sure you are comfortable.

During the interview

“Anywhere between five to 10 questions is perfect, keep the conversation flowing and make sure your questions aren’t all based around me, me, me.

“Interview the interviewer. What do they enjoy about working here? It’s always a great one to see their reaction.

“Make an effort to remember the names of the interviewers. Say the name back to the individual, it’ll go into your conscious but also will show you’re listening.

“Consistent eye contact and listen. Show that you are interested.

“Don’t be afraid to ask people to repeat the question or what exactly they want in terms of an answer. Be confident in your approach and be honest.

“There’s nothing wrong with a few seconds of silence whilst you think. Just don’t say ermm…

“Get your interviewer to open up and talk about what’s important, Make sure you actively listen as if you can counter respond or ask a question to follow on this goes down extremely well.

After the interview

“Anticipate counter offers from your current employer. Don’t be blindsided by more money and the security of the same role. Remember why you are choosing to leave in the first place.

“Be confident and assured in the package you want or expect. Don’t be overwhelmed by aggressive negotiation.

“Close the meeting confidently suggest a follow up call or ask when you will hear back from them if you were the right candidate.

“Make sure you close the meeting confidently, remember you are still being interviewed when they show you out the door.

“Before you leave the meeting, find out what happens next.

“Make sure you get feedback, whether it’s good or bad, always think about what you can learn for next time.

Leigh explains: “Whichever sector a candidate is interviewing for, the basic principles for an interview process don’t change. Whilst the question style, format and set up may alter by following these easy and simple insights a candidate will ensure that they are fully prepared, briefed and set to impress the interviewer.

“Above all else, show that you are keen, present and engaged – that’s what an interviewer is really looking for. The rest will fall into place.”

Holding an interview

The interview process is as much about the company as it is the person, finding that right fit for a team is crucial, however a candidate with a huge amount of experience and talent truly has the pick of bunch. Therefore it’s critical that in the short time the interviewer spends with the candidate that they represent and portray the company in the best possible light.

Many individuals within companies find the task of interviewing potential recruit as a long and laborious process. This attitude is reflected in the interview, causing the candidate to see the company in a negative light. Therefore it’s crucial that the company thinks carefully when selecting who will be holding the interview.

Over the past five years there has been a shift in the style of interviewing.  Competency based questions such as “describe a scenario where you have shown your communication skills” are a thing of the past, instead an interviewer needs to focus on understanding the recruit’s attitude, personality and your interests. Questions such as “is there enough time in the working day” or “do you think meetings are effective?” highlight more about a person than scenarios and getting a person to talk solely about their achievements.

Leigh explains: “Of course it is still very much about finding a person who has the experience and qualifications that can do the job effectively. But also it’s essential to find someone who will enjoy the role and the business overall. This will result in the chosen individual to stay happy, motivated and above all else perform better in their role. Chemistry is essential, and by using these different techniques and styles to your questioning will ensure your future employee has job satisfaction, saves you time and ensure you get the best possible results.

“When you are holding your interview, always remember people buy people so break down those barriers that a formal interview process can often put up.”

After the first interview, you might feel you’ve found the right person but want to know more. Instead of holding another interview, which often goes over the same questions but with different people, hold trial day or sessions. This is truly the most effective and most visible way of seeing how the person integrates within the team, has a strong chemistry and can actually do the job.

Leigh adds: “Trial days are a great way of being able to view with ease how your recruit interacts and engages with the team. Don’t throw them in at the deep end and just leave them to it, guide the candidate, team them up with someone in the office who is a good role model for the company and will make the candidate feel comfortable. This is make or break time for both the company and the candidate therefore ensure you get this activity spot on.”

Evaluation and Conclusion

As companies, people and society evolves so does what we need from a candidate for a job role. The interview process is completely different to that of five years, with less focus on qualifications and finding the one person with the best achievements. It’s now about the cultural fit and attitude.

The whole interview process has become less formal, a suit isn’t always needed, many people just simply see it as a simple conversation, covering off certain points along the way. More than ever it is about understanding the soft skills available from the individual, including people management and interpersonal skills.

Leigh adds: “As well as personable skills, third party elements such as technology now play a big part in the role of an interview and the recruiting process as a whole. Companies are focused on searching for the right candidate through a multi-faceted approach including social media and websites.

“A website or social media profile can show in real time what the company or candidate is really all about, therefore it’s crucial that these functions are used in an effective and consistent manner. If you are vocal on social media, ensure your communication and messaging will not have a negative impact on your character.

“These factors can beneficial for both candidate and company, as the employer can let millions of people know about the job position. Plus it gives the company the chance to present the opportunity in their own unique way, ensuring the best possible candidate for the role is found.”

So what’s next for the interview process? Will the interview evolve in a way that is currently unrecognizable? Leigh concludes:

“There are so many inefficient and ill-conceived business procedures, conflicting ideas and angles on what works and what doesn’t. Business is not the same as it was thirty years ago, and with that comes a change in the way we address one another, how we adapt to different situations and how we present ourselves.

“During an interview the stiff and formal approach doesn’t always work, it’s about two people getting a feel for one another, so make sure you use your time wisely, and your questions (from both parties) are actually relevant.

“Interviews are a crucial part of securing the correct fit for a company, plus it gives the candidate the chance to fully integrate and understand its values and ethos.

“The tide is changing to ensure a balanced process for both parties involved. By focusing on communication skills, personality and engagement, this will guarantee that a company finds a candidate that will not only fit in with the team, but excel in their job and above all else, be satisfied and happy in their chosen role.

“For the candidate, the interview process is no longer a formal and scary process. They need to feel they get as much from the company and the interviewer as the other way round. Be confident in your approach, the company has selected you to get to this level; therefore they clearly feel you can offer something to the company. Be confident, don’t be afraid to take risks and above all, have fun. A smile will get you very far.”

For more tips on interviews read our blogs

6 tips on looking good in interview without saying a word

Top most asked interview questions and the best answers to give

Top 7 interview tips and advice

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