Why should a recruiter spend the time preparing their candidate for an interview? The answer has many levels! Good preparation improves your overall level of success, it distinguishes you from your competition, builds your brand, and helps you build long term business relationships. Good prep work also reduces falloffs and wasted time for you and your clients. An added bonus is that good interview preparation cements client loyalty and relationships, leading to referrals. Best of all, your odds of making a placement dramatically improve!
So, for Prep Session 101, how do I accomplish this? First of all, you need to establish a consistent prep method for your candidate. It is important to schedule a time that your candidates can devote twenty to thirty minutes with you to discuss the interview preparation. It is important that they should call you one to two days prior to the interview to set this meeting up. The meeting can be a telephone interview or face-to-face.
Next, the prep session should be broken down into three parts:
1. Candidate introduction – Which includes small talk to break the ice and put the candidate at ease.
2. Questions and answers – Which provides detailed information pertinent to the position, and exchange of background information.
3. Closing – Which prepares the candidate to actually express interest in the position and ask for the job.
Your candidate should be given homework and coaching on what to prepare prior to the interview day. These include:
1. Candidate image – Don’t assume that your candidate knows how to dress for an interview. Consider the environment of the client company and coach them on the most appropriate attire for the interview: Don’t wear jeans and a tank top to an interview at a bank!
2. What to take to an interview – Ensure the candidate takes with them their resume, information regarding their accomplishments, publications which document their capabilities, references, and the like.
3. Study the client company online – Know things like financials, the company mission statement, who are their competitors, and other basic knowledge of what the company is all about and what they stand for.
4. Prep for Zoom or Teams interviews – Practice with video interviews and get the basics right: make sure your background is not distracting, adjust the light levels so you are presented in a positive manner, and dress appropriately.
The above strategies will go far to improve your chances for an offer!
And what are the contents of a typical Candidate Prep Session? There are several aspects:
First, explain to the candidate why, as an industry expert, you are taking the time to do this. You should satisfy them on why they should invest the time to prepare for the upcoming interview.
Second, coach the candidate on the "Ice Breaking Statement." This is the most awkward time for both parties from the initial handshake or start to a Web interview. Give examples on how to break the ice to get past this awkward stage of the interview.
Third, give examples of questioning techniques and styles that most companies use at some point in the interview process. Coach your candidate on how to respond to the following:
1) The dreaded "Tell me about yourself" question.
2) Why are you looking for a job or why are you on the market?
3) Why are you interested in us? Or what do you know about us?
4) Behavioral based questions – Tell me about a time when or what would you do if?
5) Coach them on negative style questions or those which are behavioral based in style.
6) The MONEY question - how to respond.
7) How did the recruiter find you? This one is critical to discuss!
8) If selected, when can you start? Where else are you interviewing?
9) Career pathway expectations. What do you want to be when you grow up question.
10) Relocation questions.
Lastly, prep your candidate with some questioning techniques. You should:
1) Coach the candidate to have their questions written out. Note that memory does not work, and it shows you are prepared.
2) Discuss the questions that the candidate "normally would ask" in an interview - this is an eye opener!
3) Correct their questions and offer suggestions for open ended questions such as:
a. What is the company’s commitment to this position/product/marketplace?
b. Confirm why the position is open?
c. What are some of the first things facing me when I start as the “Title of the Position” with XYZ Company?
d. Ask the interviewer how long they have been with the company.
e. What is the success level of the division/group/region. How to respond to either negative or positive responses.
f. Whatever question that is necessary to them to confirm their interest in this position.
g. CLOSING QUESTION suggestions. How best to close for the job.
h. Follow up with a Thank You letter after the interview in which you reiterate your interest in the position.
Summing up, it is quite important to take the interview process seriously. By spending some time and effort in advance, and by using these techniques, you can improve the prospects for your candidates to secure a position.