I’ve spent a large part of today interviewing for an administrative position in my team. Conducting interviews is, in my opinion, one of best things about being a manager. The opportunity to speak to a range of people from all sorts of different backgrounds about their knowledge, skills and experience, is a privilege that should never be taken for granted. Going through a selection process is emotionally and intellectually challenging for all candidates, and as interviewers we should never take the effort involved in putting yourself through that challenge for granted.
Today’s interviewees were generally of a very high standard, and I am left in the happy position of having two candidates to choose from for the position that I am seeking to fill. It’s too close to call at this stage, and I am going to be asking them to come in for a second interview with some colleagues to help me decide who will finally get the nod. Next week, I will also be meeting with the unsuccessful candidates to provide some feedback on things that they could potentially improve on and that will increase the impact of their performance at interviews for future roles. I see this as an essential part of the informal contract between me as the interviewer and unsuccessful candidates : they have opened themselves up to the interview process, and the least they deserve is the opportunity to discuss where they did well and where they might be able to improve in the future.
One of the things that always surprises me when doing interviews is the number of candidates who do little in the way of research into the role or organisation that they have applied for. As a matter of course, I would always recommend that applicants for a job seek to contact somebody in the recruiting team before the interview (and ideally, even before applying) to discuss with them what the role is really about (job descriptions and person specifications rarely tell the whole picture!) and what the particular issues facing the department, team or organisation are at the moment. This serves two useful purposes : firstly, it shows a level of interest in the job and organisation and a commitment to properly preparing for the application process; and secondly, it allows the candidate to tailor their application and interview responses to the real-time issues facing the recruiter. It also means that you progress your application with your eyes wide open about the organisation and the job that you’re applying for.
You wouldn’t book a holiday without checking out the brochure, reading the TripAdvisor comments, and referring to a travel guide or two. And you’ll spend much longer in work than on a typical holiday!