Calendar mark with Interview

If you are serious about your upcoming job interview, here’s what you need to do to ensure success:

Your interest level
Are you genuinely interested in the job? Will this opportunity give you the stepping stones to help develop your career? Your interview won’t be successful unless you can show 100% commitment.

Read the job description again
Make sure you are very clear about the job requirements and the skills the employer is looking for. Try to anticipate what questions you are likely to be asked and prepare your answers. Have examples of situations you have experienced that could relate to the job you have applied for. Also think about some intelligent questions that you can ask towards the end of the interview.

Do your research
Research the company thoroughly, as well as the department and team you would be joining. You can often find useful details from the company’s website as well as blog posts and their social media sites. You want to be knowledgeable about what they do and be aware of any new acquisitions/products/services.

Your strengths and weaknesses
Think about what you are good at and what you’re not so good at as there will always be a question relating to these. We all have weaknesses (or areas for development / improvement), so be prepared with your answer. You can often turn a weakness into a positive. Importantly you want to show that you are already making progress on improvement. This will show the interviewer that you are self-aware and driven to succeed.

Site visit
If possible, visit the venue where you will be having your interview beforehand. This will take away your worries about how to get there or how long the journey will be. And you will have more insight about the environment and the people. If it’s a hotel job, ask for a showround so you are familiar with the product. You will feel more relaxed and comfortable with this preparation – you could even slip into the conversation during interview that you visited earlier, an impressive way to show your eagerness!

Dress sense
Plan in advance what you are going to wear for your interview and make sure you dress appropriately. How formal/informal is the company? If in doubt, it is better to wear a smart suit than casual attire. But be conservative! The focus needs to be on you, the person. Avoid bright, dazzling clothes – and go easy on the make-up, nail polish etc.

Interpretation of your CV
Print off a copy of your CV and bring it with you, just in case the interviewer doesn’t have it to hand. Be prepared to answer questions relating to any gaps or unusual content in your CV. You need to be bold and confident about your experience and achievements, and have good reasons for any variances.

All set. Good luck!


Video interview - Tell us about yourself - detail
It’s the opening interviewing question that all employers want to ask: “Tell me about yourself”. As a professional recruiter or hiring manager, you will have many structured questions to ask the candidate that relate to their current job, such as how they cope in certain situations and what value they can bring to your organisation, but the great ice-breaker question that has stood the test of time is: “Tell me about yourself”

There is good reason for this question as it tends to work well for both interviewer and interviewee. The candidate has the opportunity to pitch herself and effectively present her case for ‘Why me’, while the interviewer can use this time to evaluate the person.

In less than 2 minutes of answering the question the interviewer will have subliminally processed information about what they see and hear. This quick evaluation is more on the presentation, inflection, body language, enthusiasm and mannerisms of the candidate than the actual words spoken.

It may seem unfair, but the substance of the answer to this opening question is not particularly important; it’s the delivery that counts. The content becomes more critical later on in the interview process, possibly in a 2nd or final interview.

93% of communication is about what you see and hear

Nonverbal communication is extremely powerful, and the model devised by psychologist Dr Albert Mehrabian (below) has become one of the most widely referenced statistics in communications:

  • 55% of communication is visual (your body language)
  • 38% of communication is your voice (tone, inflection, etc)
  • 7% is verbal (your words)

Furthermore, according to psychologists Willis & Todorov, it takes just one-tenth of a second for someone to judge and make their first impression (See “First Impressions” 2006). Of course, professional recruiters will spend more time to decide if a candidate should be selected or eliminated, but not much more time.

In the early stage screening process, a couple of minutes should be sufficient. There’s no need for a full blown interview.

To save time, ask the classic question in a Video Interview

When you are next screening candidates (beyond the CV), think about how much time you actually need to spend. Your 2 minute evaluation on candidates answering “Tell me about yourself” can be just as effective via a recorded video interview as it is in a live face-to-face interview.

The advantage of recorded video is that it can take you just 2 minutes to review one candidate, before clicking to the next candidate, and then the next.

You can’t achieve this speed and efficiency when interviewing candidates in person.

Article by Rupert Sellers

Telegraph film - female candidate on iPad

With the increase of video interviews to screen candidates, here are some top tips for best practice recruitment:

Firstly, decide which method of video interviewing you want to use. Do you want to arrange ‘live’ video interviews or asynchronous interviews? More about the pros & cons of each here.

The ‘live’ video interview

1. If it’s going to be a live video (such as Skype), think about how you are going to conduct interviews in this way. Many candidates who are currently employed are not able to find the time or place to engage in a live video interview during their working day, so as the recruiter or hiring manager you might need to be flexible and be prepared to Skype candidates outside your normal working hours.

2. For a live video call, as with a phone call, make sure you have prepared your questions beforehand so that the interview is structured and decide how much time you are going to spend on each call. This helps to enable a fair process with questions that are consistent for each candidate you interview.

3. As with any live interview situation make sure you write notes either during the session or immediately after. It might be time consuming but without documentation you will struggle to remember who’s who if you are screening numerous candidates. And if the process drags on over a few weeks, the interviews will become even more of a blur.

4. Let the candidate finish speaking when answering a question before you start probing. In a face-to-face interview, it is much easier to interrupt and maintain a good conversation flow, but in a live video there can be a slight time delay and interaction can be disruptive.

5. If you are conducting the live video call with other hiring managers present, do not confer among yourselves while the candidate is still ‘on air’. It’s disconcerting for the candidate if he/she can see you but not hear what is being said.

The ‘one-way’ pre-recorded video interview

1. This is the best time-saving option as you can quickly review your candidate responses to your preset questions on your dashboard by clicking from one video to the next (Watch the short video demo here). There are no scheduling issues as you will be sending a link to your selected candidates for them to record their interview in their own time. Creating a video interview online is easy, and can take just a few minutes to implement, but it’s worth thinking about what outcomes you want from this type of interview.

2. Compact Interview gives you the opportunity to create as many questions you like with unlimited recording time for each answer, but while there is this flexibility you should bear in mind that your candidates will be talking to a camera on their desktop, laptop or mobile – they are not communicating with an actual person.

3. Make use of the time limit setting for each answer. As a general rule of thumb, one or two minutes is usually a sufficient maximum for most questions, but if you wanted to ask your candidates to give a presentation on a subject, then up to 10 minutes might be appropriate. As a simple ice-breaker to kick off the video interview, you might want to start with: ‘Please let us know your name and where you are located?’ And you can set the time limit for this answer to just 10 or 15 seconds.

4. Compact Interview gives you the option to allow your candidates to re-record an answer and you can specify the number of attempts you are willing to offer per question. We highly recommend you use it to provide the best candidate experience possible. Learn more.

5. Set an appropriate deadline date for completion of the video interviews. Your candidates can record their interview in their own time, perhaps in the evening or over the weekend, away from their work environment. Of course you want the video interviews completed as soon as possible, but if you are inviting candidates who have heavy work commitments or are located overseas in different time zones, then a minimum 48 hours notice is recommended. At least five days is preferable if you really want to include your full selection in the process.

Finally, when you review the video playbacks on your online dashboard which you can do at any time, as well as share with other hiring managers, try to make allowances for a few imperfections and ‘umms and ahhs’. This is not a BBC broadcast and we encourage candidates to be as natural as possible. However, talking to camera can feel a strange experience particularly if it’s the candidate’s first time to record a video.

The video interview is best used as a quick, convenient screening tool to gather insight – particularly soft skills which cannot be shown on a CV. From the videos, the candidate selection can be narrowed down, ready for more probing questions that can be asked towards the end of the recruitment process in a face-to-face interview environment.

Matt Alder and Mervyn Dinnen talk about the rise of video interviewing in Recruiter Magazine June 2017 edition and how this screening tool is an interesting example of the difficulties and advantages of disrupting long-entrenched recruiting behaviours.

As more and more candidates embrace video interviewing, it’s great to review these feedback comments which were submitted immediately after completing their online interviews:

The following are also recent feedback emails from candidates using the Compact Interview system. All are genuine and unedited:

“An easy format that makes a video interview a pleasurable (as much as it can) experience. Easy to set up, follow and complete.

Thank you
Ben”

No technical know-how required:

“Amazing innovation and simple user interface. Does not require any technical know-how to operate.

Highly commendable tool.

Cheers”

Slightly scary but…

“What a great idea. Slightly scary to start off, but with practice becomes easier. Interesting to see one’s mannerisms as one talks as well – I’ve not recorded myself before.

Thank you”

Great for candidates abroad:

“To Whom It May Concern:

First of all, I would like to thank you for the opportunity given. It has been my first time to record an interview and I must say it was a great experience. As I mentioned in one my answers, it is a great form of interview, especially for candidates abroad, which is my case.

I look forward to hear back from you soon, as I will be delighted to be part of (company name).

Best Regards,”

First time but would recommend again:

“I thought the video interview was very useful. It is the first time I have ever used this technique but would recommend using it again.

Many thanks”

Looking at the camera takes getting used to:

“This was a very different experience from what I am normally used to. However it was a good experience for me. One of the drawbacks which I have seen is that it is not easy to look at the camera as your eyes are naturally drawn to the screen. Otherwise from this, I think it was ok, it only needs getting used to this. Thank you.

Regards,”

If you would like to find out about Compact Interview and experience a free trial, please get in touch with us and we will be pleased to assist.

 

 

Sample CVArticle by Rupert Sellers

How useful is a CV today for hiring purposes?

Most recruiters are at breaking point as to how to handle CVs effectively, and quantity over quality is the constant issue.

To process the volume of applications generated from online job sites, many HR teams rely on automated keyword filters to sift CVs.

That might seem smart, but candidates who don’t include certain words that match the criteria set by the employer will immediately be discarded. Pity those highly suitable candidates that didn’t make the cut, simply because they chose to use alternative descriptive words in their CV.

It means that a lot of great talent is condemned to the reject file, without even being considered.

Candidates have a tougher application process than ever before and they are having to rely on the right keywords in order to make the initial selection. Unfortunately many keywords that appear in CVs do not reflect the actual candidate. Any candidate, good or bad, can add the keywords an employer is looking for – regardless of whether they actually have that skill.

The same applies to LinkedIn profiles: Users are renowned for overstating their skills, so how can a recruiter/employer find the right candidates based on a keyword search?

Advising candidates to copy keywords from a job description to their CV ridicules the recruitment screening process

Candidates will of course welcome advice and tips on how they can stand out and have their job application considered, but so-called ‘career coaches’ and ‘expert resume writers’ who constantly tweet the lines below are a nuisance for employers:

“#Jobseekers. Review the job ad & company website & mirror keywords in your resume that the employer uses.”

“#Resumetips: Beat the filters. Use keywords in your resume drawn from job descriptions or ads.”

These tips may help applicants in the selection process, initially at least, but this advice completely skews the keyword sift that so many employers rely on. Screening a text CV based on matching keywords to select talent is flawed. Employers and candidates deserve a fairer, more robust recruitment process.

See also: The diminishing value of a CV

 

 

My whole world is falling apart!Recruitment can be stressful, costly and inefficient – and many good candidates are slipping through the net. So maybe you need to change your application process.

Empathise with applicants

Candidates hate filling application forms, whether applying for a position directly on your website or via a job board. Of course recruiters want to glean information but it shouldn’t be an endurance test. Impersonal recruitment processes can be obstructive and many candidates will simply drop out if you force them through too many hoops.

At the initial stage, applicants may not have emotional attachment to your brand, so simplify your application process to keep them engaged. Take a moment to apply for one of the jobs listed on your site – you might be in for a shock. If the form is long and tedious, you need to change it.

Don’t rely on robots

Applicant tracking systems (ATS) may seem like a no-brainer for quickly eliminating candidates who don’t have the right skills and experience. But beware, many active job seekers know how to beat the system and embellish their CVs with keywords to pass the first sift. While others, often the more sought after talent, don’t spend enough time on their CV to add keywords that can be searched on by an ATS system. There is no substitute for human judgement, particularly when assessing intangible ‘soft skills’.

Beware of one-click job applications

Most job boards enable candidates to apply for multiple ‘suggested jobs’ at the click of a button. This easy process results in many users clicking the ‘Apply’ button without knowing anything about the employer and/or job. It’s not surprising that so many job applicants are unsuitable. There are many cases when candidates can’t even remember what jobs they applied for.

Don’t keep candidates waiting

Good candidates have limited time for applying and interviewing. They are busy in their jobs and expect the recruitment process to be straightforward and efficient.

If you are going to phone screen or meet candidates in person, make sure you provide sufficient scheduling options, and bear in mind that many candidates request interviews to take place out of office hours. When candidates come to interview, don’t keep them waiting and don’t drag out the interview process. It leaves a lasting negative impression of your organisation.

 

Job interview

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Tell us about yourself” and “Why do you want to work with us?”. They sound such straightforward questions, but the interviewer will hang on every word you say.

“Tell us about yourself.”

It’s an open-ended question that always comes up, usually near the beginning of the interview. It sounds like an easy one to answer – But it isn’t.

You have only a few seconds to create an impression to the interviewer and engage. If you get off to a shaky start, that first impression can be difficult to change. So make your story interesting and upbeat. You can start by saying which city you grew up in if you want, but focus on what is likely to be most relevant, such as your recent career.

If there is no interaction from the interviewer, nor body language signals to suggest you should keep talking, I wouldn’t spend any longer than one minute to tell your ‘story’. Don’t make this a long, drawn out monologue; only continue if the interviewer interjects and clearly shows interest.

“Why do you want to work with us?”

Can the interviewer envisage you working for their company and fitting with their corporate culture? Too many candidates give a standard ‘I want work for XYZ company because it has a great reputation and a friendly atmosphere’ And they regurgitate similar words for every job they apply for.

This is your chance to shine and stand out from other candidates. Do some thorough research on the company and try to find a hook that can give you a great answer. eg. ‘I’m very excited about XYZ’s expansion plans announced last month, and I want to join a company where I can develop my career and contribute to your company’s successful growth.’

The interviewer will probably take more note of your answers to these questions than any other in the interview, so make sure you are well prepared.

Article by Rupert Sellers

ReTraditional CVs - 8.8 seconds to reviewcruiters need better solution to screen talent than outdated text CV

A Curriculum Vitae, Latin for a “course of one’s life”, used to be a rare document and employers to whom it was sent would take their time to review every detail. This all worked pretty well when there wasn’t much movement in the jobs market. A few decades ago, jobs would become available to graduates and apprentices when employees after 30 or 40 years of service retired. A ‘job for life’ was quite normal.

Today, that approach to employment is unimaginable. Average job tenure is now 4.4 years, and most millennials expect to stay in a job for less than three years. Thanks to the internet, employers post thousands of jobs every day via job boards, aggregators and social media, and in return they receive millions of CVs – unfortunately many of which are completely unsuitable.

With so many CVs to review, recruiters are spending less than 10 seconds on each one to decide whether or not to keep a candidate in the recruitment process. Inevitably, some hidden gems get rejected as words ‘on paper’ provide only limited insight on the candidate.

CV writer specialists are not the answer

Given the precious window of opportunity (the 10 second glance of a CV), it’s not surprising that there are hundreds of companies and ‘specialists’ offering advice on ‘how to write a CV’ – and some even charge for the service. Content in a CV has become so critical due to the sheer volume that recruiters and employers have to process, and every word written has to be considered a potential keyword a recruiter is looking for (often searched for via an applicant tracking system). But does a CV stuffed with keywords that mirror the job description mean it represents a good candidate?

Ironically, the most desirable candidates tend not to have the best CVs in terms of layout and details provided. The active job seeker who might not be remarkable is far more likely to have a CV with all the necessary content to advance to the next stage of the process.

Too much emphasis on CV for candidate selection

Organisations will of course conduct interviews for candidates that make the selection, and possibly use psychometric tests, but there is too much emphasis placed on the CV – and many good candidates could be wrongly eliminated without the chance to prove themselves in interviews and tests that would follow the CV assessment stage.

In the many years I have been a recruiter for the luxury hospitality sector I have seen some fantastic looking CVs that simply don’t match up to the person. I have also come across great candidates with underwhelming CVs. Work experience can be deceiving. If a candidate has worked for some top brands they tend to be much more attractive to an employer than a candidate who has experience with unknown company names. We assume that the brands speak for themselves and therefore associated candidates must be good. But I have come across many mediocre candidates with seemingly glowing CVs who have somehow managed to hide below the radar and progress in their career from one good brand to the next.

Looking beyond the CV with video

Recruiters have a big job to process high volumes of candidates but racing through CVs is not the solution, particularly when you are hiring for customer service positions. A quick glance at qualifications and work experience doesn’t tell you much about the person. How do you know what their ‘soft skills’ are like? Of course it is not practical to meet all your applicants in person, and conducting phone interviews could also be a lengthy process. But before you eliminate your ‘maybe’ candidates (those that you are not sure about, but you haven’t the time to include them), consider inviting your candidate selection to record a personalised pre-set video interview. You will gather much more insight and you are likely to make a better judgment on whether or not to keep a candidate in the early stage of your recruitment process.

CIPD logo

Research suggests that, for too many jobs, the cost of university outweighs the economic benefits, and that the prevailing rhetoric on the need to get more and more young people into university needs to change.

Successive governments’ preoccupation over the last 30 or more years with getting more and more young people through university is no longer justified given the employment outcomes for many graduates and the associated costs involved, a new report has shown.

The report, Alternative pathways into the labour market, by the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, finds that, for a wide range of occupations which have seen significant increases in graduate rates over the last 35 years, alternative vocational routes into employment are both possible and less costly, with a smaller proportion of this lower cost falling on the learner. 

The report is published at a time when the average student is now leaving university with £44,000 of debt and, even by the Government’s own estimates, 45% of the value of student loans will not be repaid. The report calls into question the continued focus on the ‘graduate premium’, with previous CIPD research showing that more than half of graduates were working in non-graduate jobs after they left university. Furthermore, Brexit makes it even more important that the UK’s investment in education and skills delivers value for learners, employers and the economy.

The CIPD’s research considers 29 occupations, which together account for nearly 30% of employment in the UK and over 30% of the work performed by graduates currently. It shows that for many of these jobs, while the numbers of graduates have increased sharply over the period from 1979 to 2014, in many instances the level of skill required to do the job has not appreciably changed. 

The report also suggests that, for too long, employers have been recruiting graduates into many roles that don’t utilise this level of qualification. Employers need to open up recruitment to more non-graduates, while also working to develop more of the roles that do require graduate skills. 

The report, Alternative pathways into the labour market, finds:

  • 35% of new bank and post office clerks are now graduates, compared with 1979 when just 3.5% of bank and post office clerks held degrees
  • 42.9% of police officers at the rank of sergeant and below entering the police force now hold degrees, compared with 1979 when less than 2% of police officers of similar rank were graduates
  • 41% of new recruits in property, housing and estate management are graduates, compared with 3.6% in 1979
  • 36.9% of newly employed teaching assistants enter those jobs with a degree – as late as 1999, only 5.6% of the occupation as a whole did so

In response to the issues raised in the report, the CIPD is calling for Government to:

  • Improve the quality of careers advice and guidance to young people while they are in school so they can make better informed choices about career pathways
  • Ensure that apprenticeship policy moves away from trying to simply increase numbers towards improving the quality and progression routes of apprenticeships, in order to create a meaningful alternative route to university for young people and employers
  • Ensure the forthcoming industrial strategy has a clear focus on creating more high skilled jobs and progression routes at work. This requires an emphasis on raising the quality of leadership and people management, job design, and training and development through partnerships between government, employers and unions at a national, sectoral and local level.

Peter Cheese, CIPD Chief Executive, said: “This report shows clearly how the huge increase in the supply of graduates over the last 35 years has resulted in more and more occupations and professions being colonised by people with degrees, regardless of whether they actually need them to do the job.

“Governments of all colours have long had a ‘conveyor belt’ approach to university education, with a rhetoric that has encouraged more and more students to pursue graduate qualifications. However, with this research showing that for many graduates, the costs of university education outweighs its personal economic benefits, we need a much stronger focus on creating more high-quality alternative pathways into the workplace, such as higher level apprenticeships, so we really do achieve parity of esteem between the two routes.

“It goes without saying that the UK needs a world class higher education system, but this report really does provide a reality check on the assumption that continually increasing the numbers of people going to university truly adds the right value for learners of all ages, employers and the economy. 

“Graduates are increasingly finding themselves in roles which don’t meet their career expectations, while they also find themselves saddled with high levels of debt. This ‘graduatisation’ of the labour market also has negative consequences for non-graduates, who find themselves being overlooked for jobs just because they have not got a degree, even if a degree is not needed to do the job. Finally, this situation is also bad for employers and the economy as this type of qualification and skills mismatch is associated with lower levels of employee engagement and loyalty, and will undermine attempts to boost productivity.”

Peter Cheese added: “In the current Brexit context, it is imperative that we take stock of the UK’s education and skills policy so that our current and future workforces can deliver the economic growth we need.

“To tackle this problem, policy makers need to improve the quality of careers, advice and guidance so young people have better information about other non-graduate routes into the labour market, for example, through apprenticeships. At the same time, much more needs to be done to reform the apprenticeship system which currently generates high numbers of Level 2 apprenticeships, equivalent to just 5 GCSE passes, with relatively few at Level 3 and above. Unless we have many more advanced and higher level apprenticeships, the apprenticeship route will continue to be seen as the poor relation to university. 

“Employers also need to broaden their recruitment practices and ensure they are not using a degree as a means of screening job applicants for jobs where there is no justification in terms of the skills needed to do the job. 

“Finally, government needs to ensure that its new industrial strategy has a focus on creating more high skilled jobs, which requires working in partnership with employers, representative bodies and unions at a national, sectoral and local level to improve the quality of leadership and people management, job design, and training and development across the economy.”