Five steps for successful interview preparation

Interview advice is commonly given to someone looking for a job, but not usually directed at the hiring manager. However, there is a growing expectation placed on employers to advertise their vision and offer the benefits of joining their company to candidates during the interview stage, so it pays to be prepared.

The demand for top candidates is always high, despite economic conditions. Professionals able to add immediate value to the bottom line or with expertise in specialist product areas, for example, are sought after by multiple organisations.

With this in mind, it’s important to take a proactive approach when hiring as several employers may be vying for the attention of a small amount of talent. Candidates with the necessary skills may be reluctant to make a change and leave their current role. Many factors contribute to this: a lack of confidence in the industry, fear of being ‘last in, first out’, fuel and transport prices and unwillingness to relocate due to a rocky housing market, all play a part.

These factors mean that, during the talent attract process hiring managers and organisations will benefit from defining what sets them apart from the competition. We’ve seen a change in the typical interview situation recently; candidates seem to be more involved, questioning why a business and role would be a good fit for them and so the interviewer/interviewee roles are interchangeable.

In order to determine whether or not a candidate is the right fit for your company, include a series of behavioural and motivational questions in your list of interview questions. 

Here our top five tips to help you guarantee you are effectively promoting your organisation to candidates.

1. Know your own brand

It’s important to understand how others might perceive your brand in the market. You may have complete belief in your products and excellent customer services, but it’s still vital to develop the perception of being an employer of choice. Determine what it is that keeps your employees engaged, motivated and progressing in their careers and explain these factors at interview. The internal culture of the organisation, as well as the tangible benefits and opportunities both play a big part in candidate decision making.

2. Be aware of your competition

It’s just as significant to have an understanding of how other businesses in your industry are operating, it can affect your market positioning and USP definition. Learn their product and services ranges and make sure you have an understanding of their internal culture. It helps to know who and what you’re up against if competing for talent. Ask yourself why someone should choose to work for you rather than your competitors - think what it was that made you yourself join the business?

3. Be clear

Define your hiring procedure and communicate it clearly to candidates. Let them know who they’ll be meeting and how different stakeholders and departments interface with your function. Explain why the role exists and specify the expectations for delivery. It’s sometimes tempting to miss out some of the less positive aspects, but for retention purposes it’s important for any potential employees to have the full picture. What a candidate experiences when interviewing with an organisation can ultimately define the decision they’ll make at offer stage.

4. Listen and understand

Not everyone is motivated and excited by the same things. Work out why a candidate is exploring the market in the first place and what they might be looking for, then match the opportunities and benefits of your organisation to these points. If someone’s motivated by work/life balance, explain how your flexitime policy will benefit them.

5. Give feedback

It’s important to keep the momentum going after an interview, nothing diminishes the positive feeling about a role more than no contact. If candidates have bought into your organisation and vision it’s up to you to keep them interested. Arrange a second meeting quickly, and if there is a genuine reason for delaying decisions, keep the interviewees updated.

Note that professionals who’re aware that their expertise is in demand aren’t shy about asking “what’s in it for me?” Organisations wanting to secure top talent have to be prepared to answer this question, with a convincing reply.

For more advice on attracting the top talent in your industry to your organisation, please get in touch with the team at your local Michael Page office.

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