Choosing the right candidate is one of the most important decisions you will ever have to make as a manager. Getting the decision right will ensure that your new recruit fits seamlessly into the organisation, thus increasing the chances of you enjoying a fruitful and productive relationship with your new staff member going forward.
Back in The W1nners’ Club’s less professional days, through a lack of planning and preparation, we unfortunately ended up hiring people that would struggle to get admitted to a lunatic asylum on account of their behaviour in the workplace.
We have therefore compiled a list of things that we should have done to ensure that the people we end up spending the majority of our conscious lives working in close proximity to, don’t turn out to be the sort of people one would usually expect to be locked up with in a maximum security prison:
If only…………we often lament the fact that some of our worst recruitment disasters could have been avoided if we’d just taken the time to think about what we were looking for in a candidate. Instead of going to the pub at the first opportunity, someone could have stayed behind after hours and prepared a job outline and person specification – a sort of yardstick against which prospective candidates could be assessed. Alas – the draw of a cool pint of lager down at The Dog and Duck proved too great a temptation, so by the time our interviews took place, we had often misplaced the candidate’s application form and instead of the candidate being placed on the spot searching for answers – we were placed on the spot searching for f*cking questions!
2. Be Prepared
A bit of preparation goes a hell of a long way!
- We recommend using at least two or more interviewers to achieve a balanced view. This will protect you against accusations of unfair treatment. It also means that if you happen to work with anybody that is excessively racist, sexist, sizeist, bi-polar or supports a different football team to the candidate, their negative opinion won’t hold too much sway. The person that used to conduct our interviews here at The W1nners’ Club was a black, gay, Scottish, Jewish, amputee that supports Leeds United so as you can imagine, some of our prospective candidates didn’t stand a chance!
- Make sure the interviewers are correctly briefed and know which job it is that they are selecting a candidate for (please see future posts for the full story on this one – the mind boggles!).
- Make sure that you will not be disturbed during the interview. It seems obvious, but you won’t get a sense of who the candidate is if he or she is constantly being interrupted by roadworks outside, aeroplanes overhead or the East-European cleaner wandering in mid-way through the interview with the vacuum cleaner on.
- Let the candidate know when the interview is to be held, at what time and who they should ask for. Don’t be like the BBC who once interviewed a poor, unsuspecting gentleman who had come for an interview for a driving job but ended up being interviewed on the news in front of millions of people about a subject he knew absolutely nothing about.
3. The Interview Itself
- Adopt a welcoming persona and put the candidate at ease by introducing the other interviewers – all of whom should be fully awake at this point!
- Verify the information provided on their CV or application form (assuming you have it of course!).
- Get the candidate to identify their main strengths and key experiences. It must be noted that this is the point where you should be on the lookout for any signs of lying. Had we had this guide at our disposal when we recruited people in the past, it’s safe to say that The W1nners’ Club offices would be a very different place indeed. For example, we once employed somebody that claimed to have letters after their name but after investigating their identity a bit more carefully, it transpired that the letters after their name were H.M.P. Wandsworth Escapee!
- The usual signs to look out for that indicate someone is a pathological liar are: fiddling of the fingers, overuse of the word ‘erm,’ tapping of feet, or the avoidance of eye contact.
Various approaches can be taken when asking questions to illicit different types of information:
- Open questions are those that can’t be answered with a basic, ‘yes,’ or, ‘no,’ response (they are also very useful on a first date).
- Probing questions such as, ‘and what is your pin number exactly?’ will allow you to explore a candidate’s answer further.
- Closing questions like, ‘can you work evenings, weekends and public holidays………for no extra pay…………with less than 24 hours’ notice…………on your own…………on your birthday………during a power cut………………even though you’re supposed to be flying to The Maldives on Tuesday for your honeymoon?’ tend to illicit more factual information.
- Reflective questions help you to clarify a point or help you lead to a close for example: ‘So let me get this straight – you actually had to wash your boss’s car in your last job if you didn’t achieve your sales targets?’
- Situational questions like, ‘suppose you were on deadline for a project and one of your colleagues invites you to the pub for a, ‘meeting’ what would your answer be?’ – will allow you to get a sense of whether they are able to get their priorities right (ie. anybody that doesn’t take up an invite to have a, ‘meeting’ at the pub might not be the sort of person you would want to employ).
- Avoid destructive interview techniques that may lead to you missing out on hiring prime candidates such as:
- Offensive remarks eg. ‘Crikey! If they paid you so little in your last job you must’ve really pissed somebody important off at some point!’
- Personal remarks eg. ‘we’re an equal opportunities employer so both of your chins will qualify for a travel allowance every time you laugh!’
- Inattentive behaviour such as yawning, gazing out of the window, falling asleep, tweeting, texting, taking a selfie – as you’ll simply come across as rude.
5. Time to decide
- Use a scoring system to turn your analysis into numbers, but try to avoid subjective decision making such as whether or not you’d like to continue the interview after work – back at your place when the husband / wife is away.
- Make it clear if your final decision will be based on references or a qualifications check (we once employed somebody that was devoid of all the above, so you can imagine how well that one turned out………)
- Inform successful and unsuccessful candidates of the outcome. We suggest you inform the successful ones in person and the unsuccessful ones over the phone – for obvious reasons!