How To Spice Up Your Interviews

Mark Freire

26th September 2017

The job interview has been a standard procedure in recruitment for years. But is it really the best and only tool for finding talent?

If your organisation lacks diversity or struggles with retention then you may not be finding the very best people for the job, and your hiring process could be to blame.

Over the years we have come across a wide range of different techniques to measure aptitude and enthusiasm. None of them are perfect, but by choosing the best options for each role you could dramatically change the results you get from your recruitment.

Here are 8 ways to spice up your interviews.

1. Try competency based questions.

Even if you stick to the traditional interview format, the questions you use can test very different talents. A competency based interview means shifting the focus off previous work experience and education, and onto the qualities and behaviours you need for the role.

Competency based questions usually start with ‘Tell me a time when…’, ‘Give me an example of…’, or ‘Describe the way that you…’. They draw the interviewee away from their CV, and onto the approach, beliefs, and perceptions which drive their real world behaviour.

This will take the interview out of just work and into hobbies and personal interests – things that help you build up a holistic view of an individual. Those who find it hardest to recall examples are more likely to be those that don’t proactively embrace opportunities to develop, learn and interact.

2. Switch to group interviews

Few employees work in solitary, so a group interview can provide a more realistic impression of how someone will perform at work – especially if you set exercises which involve working with others. Confidence, cooperation, performance under pressure, and negotiation skills will all be evidenced and the group dynamic allows you to directly compare candidates in the exact same circumstances.

At JITR we often provide a hosted interview solution for our clients. The current fill rate from this method is an impressive 87%; demonstrating how successful clients find the format for taking on new talent.

Either way, ticking off those triggers is bound to make your long term relationship stronger.

3. Introduce tests

If a candidate is not up to the task technically, then best to find out sooner rather than later. Short tests as part of the hiring process can reassure both the candidate, and the employer, that the relationship has a solid grounding.

Remember that you person you hire should not just be the person with the highest test score. It should be the person with the right level of technical competence alongside the other qualities you are looking for. In fact, those that ace the test may actually be unwise hires if you don’t have the work challenges and progression opportunities to retain them longer term.

Companies who use testing like to always do it at the start of the hiring process, but we recommend against this. Not only can it slow down the hiring process, but testing prior to building any kind of relationship or trust with the candidate can put-off potentially strong hires.

4. Arrange an assessment day

Assessment Days combine testing and group interview methodology to review candidates across multiple scenarios. The exercises you run should reflect the core skills for the role including any technical and softer skill requirements.

However, there are dangers.

If you are not the biggest name in your industry, the very strongest candidates may feel they have nothing to prove and won’t. You also need to be aware that candidates will use the day to assess you. If you subject them to a punishing run of tests without good instructions and support, they may think working for you will be much more of the same.

5. Ask for a presentation

Asking a candidate to put together a presentation to a panel allows for a wider skills assessment. While they are demonstrating their ideas and technical skills on-screen, you will also be able to assess their soft-skills.

A presentation has to be well-structured, insightful, thought out and rehearsed, which are all good skills to be testing for any managerial or project management role. You will also witness how they cope under pressure and when the focus is on personal performance. A follow-up Q&A will allow you to further dig into their knowledge and experience of the presentation topic.

Just be aware that presentations are not relevant for all roles and can add time into the hiring process – especially if the candidate you are interested in are considering other offers.

6. Offer a trial

Want to know what a candidate might be like at work? Invite them in and find out. Trail days are a great way for both employer and candidate to assess if the relationship is going to work permanently.

We find the method so effective in determining long-term suitability that we offer entry-level candidates from our technical training courses to businesses for obligation-free trials. This works for both the employer who gets to ‘test out’ prospective hires, and the candidate who can assess the work environment fully before committing.

Setting a mini-project to work on supported by a co-worker will test technical as well as softer skills, and give your candidate a flavour of the type of work they may be doing. Also recommended is to assign a buddy to support them during the day to answer any informal questions.

When it comes to making a judgement, garnering opinions from everyone who interacted with the candidate on trial will give you a very strong indication of their longer term prospects.

7. Take them on a team lunch or drinks

If you have a role based on facilitating and relationship building, then an informal meet the team session can reveal a lot. Although it can be argued that it is a very limited time to build rapport, when it comes to your customers and stakeholders creating a good first impression and quickly building rapport counts for a lot.

It can also be a great way to gain opinions from the wider team on cultural fit as well as smooth the process towards a new permanent hire.

Just be aware that these type of introductions greatly favour extroverts. If an instantly outgoing personality is not essential to the role, then this method could isolate more introverted candidates.

8. Speed up the process with Skype

While all the above methods are great, sometimes speed is of the essence – especially in a candidate short market. If the candidate is struggling to make an interview, then setting up a skype call could be the perfect solution. Unlike the traditional telephone interview, video chat allows you to build rapport and view non-verbal markers of suitability and interest – such as facial expression and body language.

At JITR we like to talk face-to-face with every candidate before putting them forward for a role. In circumstances where this is not possible in person we turn to Skype and find it just as effective as a true face-to-face.

In fact, when it comes to interviewing, our experience is that skype can make a candidate feel less nervous and more open than the dreaded interview room.

Struggling with hiring and retention? In a candidate short market, we are helping our clients’ take a more innovative approach to securing top talent. For an initial chat contact us on 020 7426 9835.