Tag Archives: Interviews

And so it begins…

I’ll be honest – I very nearly fell at the first hurdle of this year’s National Blog Post Month. It’s been a busy but interesting day and it’s only now that I have time to sit down and commit some thoughts to the virtual page.

This morning, I was delighted to be part of a presentation to new staff at work, welcoming them to the organisation and explaining a little bit about how we do things. When I got back to the office, there was an e-mail advising that we had received 15 applications for a senior role that we are currently recruiting to, and that the documentation was now available to review. The e-mail didn’t prepare me for the fact that the 15 applicants had collectively submitted 640 pages of information in support of their applications! It took a while to go through it all, but I managed to skim through them and send some initial observations on next steps to the chair of the selection committee. It will be interesting to see how the process unfolds from now on.

It was then time for a meeting to discuss how we would go about developing the policies and procedures for the new office space that we have been in for the past couple of months. A brand new space and flexible working arrangements (including hot-desking and the provision of only 70% of desks to headcount) provides a great opportunity to re-think the health, safety and operational processes that we will need to ensure that staff and visitors are safe, and we can use the space efficiently and effectively.

To end the day, I prepared for a focus group that I am a member of in the morning, as part of the selection process for a senior manager in the organisation. Focus groups will meet the candidates separately to the main interview panel, and they are more interesting in many ways, being less formal and more of a conversation than the more rigidly structured interview. It promises to be an interesting morning tomorrow. It’s always fascinating to see whether candidates who you have only read about through their written applications, turn out to be anything like you’ve imagined!

Now though, it’s time for a glass of plonk and half an hour in front of the television.

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So, what first attracted you to this position?

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!