A friend of mine recently attended a job interview that she was very excited about. The role was a midlevel management role in a government organisation that was large, well known and respected. My friend thought the job was interesting and with all the right qualifications and a track record of successes, she had a strong opportunity to be offered the role. Yet before my friend had even entered the interview room, she had already decided that the role was not for her and it had nothing to do with the job!

Let me set the scene…when my friend was ‘greeted’ for the interview (ten minutes late), the lady that greeted her did not say ‘hello’, smile, offer her name or her hand. She barely spoke/mumbled on the journey to the interview room and walked ahead. Once in the interview, still with no idea as the identity of this very ignorant woman, my friend learnt that it was this woman that she would report to if she was successful in attaining the role. To make matters worse, the lady proceeded to hold her hands out in front of her, checking her nails and jewellery adorning her hands and wrists (this went on for a few minutes). Totally tuned out and with a very sour and disinterested expression, she gave the distinct impression that she wished she was anywhere but there. The only reason my friend did not cut the interview short and walk out was due to the professionalism of the second interviewer. He had immediately introduced himself, was polite, thorough and spoke very well about the job role and the organisation.  Out of respect to him my friend saw the interview through and then exited without any intentions of ever taking on the role.

You see, like many of you, my friend believes in liking her job. She knows she is going to spend a large portion of her time at work so it is important that she values and respects the people and culture of the organisation that she is representing. Equally important is a supervisor and team that shares her passion for her trade. A few words that came to mind of her would-be supervisor were bored, disengaged and disrespectful. The job she did accept (later that same day) was with a similar organisation and a supervisor that couldn’t be more conflicting in their attitude, hunger and excitement. As representatives of our employer, what we do and don’t do in the job interview process reflects upon the entire organisation. In the above scenario one organisation will never again have an opportunity to hire an in-demand candidate while another will reap the rewards of the skills, knowledge, and experience of a great candidate long into the future.

Candidates are also interviewing you.

Too many organisations fail to recognise that they are not the only ones conducting an assessment. Candidates too are assessing if your working environment is suitable for them. They are reviewing the people, the culture, the organisation’s structure and office layout among other important elements. There are some tell-tale signs that the interviewee is conducting their own interview simultaneously. Questions such as, “What do you like about working here?” and “What would you change about your workplace?” are key indicators that you as an organisation are under review by the applicant. As most interviewers do not prepare for such questions, your response will likely be spontaneous and therefore honest. So positive or negative, the job applicant will gain a lot from your reply. Unless you offer an explanation of how the job vacancy came about, the candidate will probably ask this question too. The answer again shaping the candidates thoughts about the role and the organisation, hence their thoughts about whether or not they are keen to take on the job should it be offered.

Candidates who are interviewing you are clearly interested in more than the job description. They will be relaxed in their approach and wanting to know if they are a good fit with your organisation. You may determine that they are, however the candidate too will need to reach the same conclusion if they are to accept a job offer. So how do you make a good impression on the applicant?

A good interviewer will create a comfortable environment for a conversation, not an examination. They will be well prepared, unhurried, and good at listening and probing for additional clarification. They will be positive about the company and the role and follow a consistent, structured interviewing format. They will also provide closure to every candidate. One of the most important elements of the interview is following up with every candidate at the conclusion of the recruitment and selection process. A candidate has taken the time to compile and present an application to your company, which effectively means that they wantto work for you. If you never reply to their application for work, you will not only be struck off their preferred employer list for being ignorant and rude, but the applicant will likely complain about you to others.

Your business is only as good as your people. You not only want to hire the right candidate, but you want them to employ you too. So invest the time needed to polish your interviewing skills and techniques. You are not looking for a mediocre candidate, right? So why would you put in a mediocre effort when preparing for an interview. You generally have no more than one hour to make a positive impression, so to find the best possible candidates, you too must be the best interviewer you can be.

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