10. Preparing Candidates for Job Interviews

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(This is part of a series of articles on becoming a Recruitment Entrepreneur. These articles are meant for first-time recruitment entrepreneurs and the more experienced recruiters may find some parts elementary.  I shall start dwelling deeper into each aspect once we get done with the basics. If you wish to contribute to this topic please write to ajay@recruitcrm.io I will be happy to incorporate your ideas as well. You may also mail me if you wish me to write on any specific topic.)

Preparing a candidate for the selection process with a client is the ‘last mile’ effort for any recruiter. Many times ‘good’ candidates are clueless on selection processes and how to face them. It, therefore, is the job of every recruiter to ensure that every candidate is briefed well before assigning them to any client selection process.

Preparing a Resume

Most candidates have one format of resume that they have created painstakingly, and they end up sending it with every job application. Irrespective of the number of years of experience that a candidate may have (or even a fresher), it is impossible to describe yourself in a few paragraphs. It is therefore emphasized that the candidates highlight those aspects of their qualification, which will help them getting (or at least be considered) for a specific job.  So, if a candidate is applying for a ‘customer service’ job, she needs to highlight in the resume, similar jobs held before or even the ‘service’ or ‘support’ aspect of other jobs held earlier. She could also highlight voluntary/community work done, helping others. The point here is to highlight those aspects that would help the employer understand your fitment for the job rather than giving out a laundry list of all your qualifications, roles, and achievements that may be of little interest to the employer.

Most candidates are not regular job seekers and resume writers and it would be useful if the recruiter guides candidates on this aspect before forwarding the resume to prospective employers.

Briefing Before a Job Interview

This is just a brief checklist of actions to be taken & all that a candidate must study/know about the selection process and the company before going for the interview. Ideally, the recruiter must create a document containing most of the information and insist that every candidate goes through the same before attending the selection process.

  • Company details – Name, office locations, manufacturing facilities, business lines /products/services, business size, listed unlisted.
  • Visit the Company website and read all mentioned information
  • Know details about the industry & competitors
  • Read the job description and understand the job role thoroughly
  • Prepare a list of questions that you may like to ask the interviewer
  • Understand the selection process that would be followed
  • Dress code if any for the process. It is normally safe to be formally dressed
  • The exact time for the interview and the correct location.
  • Any other information that the recruiter is aware of which would be useful to the candidate
  • The recruiter may also set automated text/email reminders one day before and an hour prior to the interview.

It is always a good idea for the recruiter to confirm whether the candidate has reached the interviewer’s office in time and inform the client well in advance of any likely delays or no-shows.

Preparation for the Interview

Typically most interviewers (whether specifically trained or not) will follow a structured interview method. The idea would be to understand the candidate and her fitness for the role. That would mean assessing the candidate on specific competencies that are needed to succeed in that role. Typically one of the tools to measure a competency would be a ‘behavioral interview’. (I shall cover this in detail in a later article).

So if a client has briefed a recruiter that she would like a candidate with an ability to learn new things quickly, then there is no harm in asking related questions in a mock interview ( or during your interaction) regarding the same.

A simple question to ask would be, “ What new skills have you picked up in the last few months specific to your area of work?”. Another question could be, “ have you faced any roadblock/obstacle/problem in your work recently and how did you overcome it/solve it?”

Answers to these questions can give the interviewer an insight into how the candidate thinks and whether she would be a ‘learning type’ person. Such interaction with the candidate achieves two objectives. One is to help the recruiter understand if she is sending the right candidate to the client and secondly it gets the candidate some practice with the kind of questions she may face, thus improving her chances of selection.

Salary Negotiation

In the event that your candidate is selected, it would be a good idea to give the candidate a primer on salary negotiation. Mostly the salary offered is a function of market salaries, the present salary levels in the organization and finally how desperately the company wants to hire your candidate. It helps if you brief the candidate on prevailing salaries for similar job roles in other comparable companies as also the salary bands at the company she is interviewing for. This would help the candidate pitch herself at the right salary level acceptable to the company.

Regularly connect with the candidate

Many recruiters (especially so, those overloaded with work) go about their work in a mechanical/transactional way. Once a job offer has been made to your candidate there is still many a slip between the cup and the lip. Remember, you get paid only if the candidate joins the new job. Typically notice periods at work would be anything between one to six months depending on the level of the job role. Now that is a long enough time for the candidate to change her mind. Reasons could vary from a better offer from another company, a counteroffer from the present employer, family or peer pressure or just anything else. It is extremely important that the recruiter remains in regular touch with the candidate ( maybe every two to three weeks) and constantly gauge and confirm the candidate’s inclination to join the new job. Sensing any signs of wavering would be a red flag and the recruiter must confide in the client and perhaps even look for back-up candidates.

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