5 ways to ace that interview

22 11 2010

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Ok so this might very well seem obvious to some, however, working in recruitment, I’m often amazed at how people seem to miss the basic things that will help them succeed at interview!

So here goes…My 5 ways to ace that interview!

1) Turn up on time (not too early not too late)

How you present yourself is key to how the interviewer perceives you.  You’ve one chance to be on time – something you’ll be expected to do regularly when you work for the company – so make sure you’re on time.  If you’re early, walk round the block, visit the ladies/gentlemen’s or go for a coffee, before you’re called up to your interviewer.  Being about 5-10 minutes early is fine.

2) Have a copy of your CV to hand

This is really important if you have either filled in an application form online or an agency is representing you as again, it’ll help the interviewer see how you present yourself both on paper and in preparation for the interview.  Also, and you may find this shocking, I once had an agency candidate come to an interview based on the incorrect CV – it was totally unrecognisable to them bar their name at the top!  Fortunately they had a copy of their CV so we were able to carry on!  This is an extreme but accurate reminder of taking responsiblity for how you present yourself.

3) Research the company and evidence this where you can

We have so many tools available to us to find out about a business before we turn up on the door – their website, Linked In, the internet, other people we know.  Make sure you find out as much as you can about the business before you show up, aside from what they do!  When were they founded?  Where are they based?  What’s their business strategy?  Who works with/for them?

4) Address your interviewer by name and know who they are/what they do

Forgetful when it comes to names – now’s not the time to forget who you’re meeting.  But if you do get interviewnervitis and forget the details, how about you write the interviewers name down in folder/notepad and take it with you in the interview.  This can help remind you of who you’re speaking to and also is quite helpful if you’ve a list of questions prepared to ask on the same page.  Also, just as it’s important to know about the company you’re interviewing with, it’s equally important to know who is interviewing you.  Google them – check them out on Linked In….  Knowing who you’re meeting with can be really helpful to build that all important rapport.

5) Be prepared for questions

Before the interview, find out what sort it is going to be?  If its competency based then check out the job description to figure out what sort of things they’re going to want to know about what you’ve done in the past.  If it’s a situational interview then go through your CV with a fine tooth comb!  If there’s anything on it that you feel remotely concerned about (people usually over-embellish their interests/hobbies section for instance) then delete it.  If you’re uncomfortable about being asked particular questions – why are you interested in this job?  Why did you leave X employer?  etc etc, be prepared for those questions to be asked and have an answer.

To get a really competitive advantage, you could also take a look at our Essential Guide to Interview where we give advice to interviewers on what to do.

So there we have it.  My 5 sure ways to ace that interview.  What are you waiting for!  Go be amazing and ace that interview!

If you need interview help, career coaching or a friendly ear to talk to before you go for that job, get in touch today.  We offer career coaching, CV re-writing and key interview support via our sister brand Change Paths.

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Hot off the Press…Our latest Promotion…

9 07 2010

Growing Your Business with an Extra Pair of Hands

Creative Leadership have today launched their new Essential Recruitment Package for Small Businesses.  It’s aimed at helping busy entrepreneurs save time and effort in finding and securing the best talent for their growing business and avoid recruitment costs.

The package, which starts from £199 + VAT includes a bespoke application form, tailored job description, advertising, CV response handling, interview help and offer management, depending on what your business needs.

Speaking about the Essential Recruitment Package, Michelle Fischer, Managing Director of Creative Leadership said: “Given the recent recession, it’s really encouraging to see more and more local businesses coming to us for help with their recruitment and growing their businesses.  For many, it’s the first recruitment they’ve done and so they want to be sure they get it right and also that they don’t waste money advertising in the wrong place. ”

One of these was The Media Bus, a digital training business, who approached Creative Leadership to manage the people side of their business, including Recruitment, when they launched in November 2009.  Darren Nicholson, Managing Director said: “Creative Leadership made our recruitment and staffing matters so easy.  They ran the recruitment for all our roles and the assistance and support that they have given to the company has been first rate and worth every penny.  I would recommend their services to anyone looking for Recruitment and HR Guidance and Support”

Meanwhile, Angela Rowely of AV8Jet, a local Corporate Jet business said “We asked Creative Leadership to help us source the latest addition to our small team in June 2010.  They met with us and helped us immediately with recommendations of where to advertise and how to go about short-listing.  We had a brilliant response to our advert and Creative Leadership helped us to manage the applications and respond to all our applicants.  When it came to interviewing, their Essential Guide to Interviewing was really helpful.  Through the process I was really struck by their professionalism and attention to detail.”

If you’re a growing business and need help with recruiting new staff get in touch with Michelle on 07786 622344 or visit http://www.creative-leadership.co.uk

The Essential Rec Package Flyer – Front

The Essential Rec Package Flyer – Back





The Creative Leadership Essential Guide on How to Interview

9 07 2010

Following our recent series on How to Interview, here’s our one stop shop for all the steps:

Step 1 – Planning

Step 2 – Shortlisting and CV SiftingStep 3 – Preparing for the Interview

Step 3 – Preparing for the Interview

Step 4 – Diversity & Recruitment

Step 5 – The Candidate Experience

Step 6 – The Competency Based Approach

Step 7 – Writing up your Notes

Step 8 – After the Interview

Step 9 – What to do if?

Thinking about recruiting a new member to your team and need an extra pair of hands? Contact Michelle today on 07786 622344 to find out more about our NEW Essential Recruitment Package.





How to Interview – Step 9 – What to do if?

14 06 2010

The joy of working with people is that each situation is different, here are some handy hints on What to do if….

…The candidate hasn’t arrived

Give them or their agency a call and find out what’s happened.  It may be the traffic has got in the way or that they have gone to the wrong address.  Either way we recommend you allow them at least 15 minutes to turn up.

…The candidate really isn’t suitable and I don’t want to waste my time interviewing them?

Remember it’s important to leave a good impression of your organisation and to demonstrate a fair and consistent process for all candidates by providing all candidates with the same opportunities.   Therefore, it’s important that you still continue with the interview in all situations.

…I have no evidence?

There may be some occasions where some areas of the role profile or a particular competency have not been probed fully enough or even asked about. In this situation you should use the ‘0’ or “no evidence” from the rating scale.

…I have evidence spanning two competencies?

The evidence that you gather should only be classified under one area or competency, so that you do not fall into the trap of over-interpreting one piece of evidence by considering it twice. Consider the evidence that you have obtained and make a decision about where it is most appropriate.

…I have a similar amount of very good or very poor evidence?

If a particular piece of evidence is very good or very poor, make sure that your rating reflects this. You should be very careful that you do not over-emphasise the importance of just one piece of evidence. Refer back to the whole competency definition, and make sure the rating reflects this whole area.

…All my ratings are in the middle of the scale?

To be objective and fair to all candidates it is important to make use of the whole rating scale. Be prepared to use the 1 and 5 ratings. Remember, someone does not have to move heaven and earth to get a 5!  However occasionally candidates may perform satisfactorily across all competencies, therefore earning a 3 in all areas.

… The candidate is not prepared?

In today’s technologically friendly society, there should be no reason why candidates do not arrive prepared and equipped for the interview. If this situation does arise it is best practice to  ask the candidate if they feel comfortable continuing with the interview, or whether it needs to be rescheduled.

We hope that you’ve enjoyed our “How to Interview” Series which comes from our Recruitment Training for Managers programme.  For more information please get in touch with us at info@creative-leadership.co.uk.  We’d love to hear your feedback on how you’ve put our advice into practice.





How to Interview – Step 8 – After the Interview

9 06 2010

So all the hard work and preparation has come to an end and it’s now time to Close the Interview.  As mentioned at the beginning of this series, it’s important to remember that to the candidate you are the face of your organisation.  Whatever you say, or do, or don’t say or don’t do reflects on the business as a whole.  So, it doesn’t matter whether the candidate gave a good or a bad interview, they should leave the building feeling as if they’ve been treated well and treated fairly.

Here’s some golden rules for the close:

  1. Thank the person for coming – it could well be they’ve taken time off from their job, travelled a long distance to come and meet you – acknowledge this
  2. Determine what they’re other job search options are – if they’re applying for other roles, it would be useful to ascertain at this stage what stage they’re at
  3. Reclarify their salary expectations to ensure this hasn’t changed
  4. Explain to them the next steps of the interview process and what they can expect
  5. Offer them the opportunity to ask questions and also show them the area they’ll be working in if appropriate – this can help people actual visualise themselves doing the job

Making the Recruitment Decision

Once all candidates have been assessed then it is best practice to evaluate all candidates who have been interviewed for the role.  It’s very simple if there has been only one interview, conducted by one person, however where more than one person has been involved in the process, a more involved Wrap-up or Integration Session is required.

A reminder of the importance of accurate written summaries

The quality of written evidence is a vital link to establishing discrepancies across selection activities not to mention the key basis for later feedback discussions.  It is therefore very important that as a recruiter you write up evidence that accurately reflect the behaviours demonstrated on a given assessment (e.g. interview, role play etc.) and relating to the competency definition. These must also reflect the rating assigned.

Bringing in outside knowledge of candidates

With interviews attended by candidates internal to your organisation, you may find you have knowledge of some candidates’ performance outside the interview process. It is important that you don’t discuss this information during the interview or share any of this information with others involved in the process. The purpose of the competency based approach is to assess all candidates equally and objectively and it would thus be unfair to include information gathered outside the exercises.

In many cases you will have conducted the whole assessment yourself, however it is still good practice to conduct this session so that you can be sure that you have been objective throughout.

Feeding Back to the Candidate

The purpose of providing feedback is to make candidate aware of their strengths and development needs. It is ethical and professional to give candidates the opportunity to discuss their performance and completes the recruitment process.  It’s recommended that feedback be given at least 48 hours after the final interview is completed and should cover the following:

  • Competencies/Behaviours
  • Technical Skills and Knowledge

You should highlight areas of strength, development and areas where no evidence was shown. If appropriate, you could highlight areas of possible improvement for the candidate, to enable candidates to improve their skills for future applications and selection events.  After receiving feedback, candidates are still able to request access to their notes for up to 12 months after their interview and therefore it’s critical that you are mindful of this through the recruitment process.   Candidates could ask for any part of their assessment notes, and including any notes you wrote when preparing for the interview.

Identification and Verification

All employers are required to evidence that a candidate is eligible to work in the UK.  It can also be the case that employers have other checks i.e. identity, credit or criminal record history.

It is recommended that a proof of eligibility to work in the UK is requested when an interview is being confirmed, so that a copy can be taken at interview.  This means that you avoid wasting time interviewing and offering the job to a candidate who may not have the relevant paperwork.

Generally speaking in order to verify that a candidate has the right to work in the UK, you should check one of the following original documents:

  • Passport
  • National Identity Card
  • Long Form Birth Certificate plus NI Card

You should make a note on the photocopy of the documentation that the person who you’re interview is in fact the same person that the document refers to.  You can do this by writing “Original Seen” and writing your name and the date.  The importance of this cannot be understated as failure to comply is a criminal offence.

Candidate Care

Sometimes administrative processes can drag out the time between interviewing a candidate and them joining the organisation. Imagine yourself in the shoes of the candidate and think what they may be thinking or feeling if they aren’t contacted or kept informed. If there are delays in the process call them to let them know what is happening. This will demonstrate that you value them and may help tip the balance if they are also considering other employers.

If a candidate is struggling to make their mind up, a call from their future line manager may make all the difference – is there anything else they want to know about the role? Would they like to come in and meet the people they could be working with? What are the issues that are making the decision difficult?

If they are due to join in a week’s time you could ring them, welcome them on board and ask if there’s anything they want to know before they begin i.e. parking, transport routes, when pay day is, do they need to bring a packed lunch etc.

We’re almost at the end of this our How to Interview Series.  Next week we’ll take a look at “What to do If” scenarios.  If you’ve any questions in the meantime, please get in touch with us either by calling Michelle on 01202 853647 or emailing info@creative-leadership.co.uk





How to Interview – Step 7 – Writing up your notes

7 06 2010

Continuing with the series, this week I’d like to introduce you to a fantastic method for writing up your interview notes and ensuring that you gather all the evidence you need for determining a fair and consistent interview process.

Introducing ORCE Methodology

ORCE stands for Observe, Record, Classify and Evaluate. It’s a way of asking questions which will help you to gather all the necessary data you need, and ensuring you make objective and fair judgements on the person’s suitability and capability for your job vacancy.

During the interview itself you are focusing on Observe and Record part of the ORCE methodology.

  1. Observe/Record – When observing, you should make extensive notes of what the candidate actually says.  This forms a record of their likely behaviours and is the basis upon which subsequent evaluations will be made.  At this stage you should try to achieve as detailed a record as possible for the candidate you are assessing, avoiding evaluating whether something is relevant and deciding which information can be left out.
  2. Classify – Having established a good record of what the candidate has actually said, the next stage is to classify them appropriately against the competencies you’ve already determined.  To ensure that you do this effectively, you must be familiar with the competencies and the behavioural indicators.
  3. Evaluate – The final stage of the process is to evaluate the classified behaviours.  We recommend using a numerically defined rating scale. This allows you to come to a clear and fair conclusion of performance against each individual competency and indeed to evaluate a person’s suitability for the job in question.

Things to watch out for when Evaluating your Evidence.

Recruiters need to be aware of the following potential sources of error when rating performance:

  • Halo Effect – The tendency to generalise one aspect of good performance to all performance.
  • Horns Effect – The tendency to generalise one aspect of poor performance to all performance.
  • Central Tendency – The tendency to give “middle of the road” evaluation often so that one can avoid having to justify high or low scores.
  • Leniency – The tendency to generally view people’s performance favourably.
  • Harshness –   The   tendency   to   generally   view   people’s   performance unfavourably.
  • First  Impressions –  The  tendency  to   be   most  influenced   by  initial impressions and to disregard subsequent contrary evidence.
  • Recency – The tendency to be most influenced by the last observations made and to disregard earlier contrary evidence.
  • Stereotyping – Allowing   personal   biases and   prejudices arising from stereotyped views of groups of people to distort evaluation of actual performance.

Using a Rating Scale

We recommend the following rating scale when assessing your candidates:

5 =     Significantly above the acceptable standard – The candidate has demonstrated most of the positive indicators related to the competency throughout the exercise, with no evidence of any negative behaviour. Very strong examples/evidence provided – clearly an area of strength. No need for personal development in this area for the role applied for.

4 =    Above the acceptable standard – The candidate demonstrated most of the positive indicators related to the competency in the exercise with limited evidence of negative behaviours. Strong examples/evidence provided – potentially an area of strength. Limited need for personal development in this area for the role applied for.

3 =    Acceptable standard – The candidate demonstrated more positive indicators related to the competency than negative indicators in the exercise. Any negative indicators would not raise concerns regarding ability to perform in the role. Development is desirable but not essential for this role.

2 =     Below the acceptable standard – The candidate demonstrated more negative indicators of the competency than positive indicators in the exercise. Needs some personal development concentrating on strengthening desired behaviours for this role.

1 =    Significantly below the acceptable standard – The candidate demonstrated significant negative indicators with little, if any positive behaviour related to the competency. Limited contribution to the exercise. Strong development needed concentrating on addressing negative behaviours and broadening positive behaviours.

N/E  =  No evidence – No evidence of this competency was demonstrated in this exercise.

When allocating a score on the rating scale you should be conscious that this is not a simple process of comparing the number of positive indicators against the number of negative indicators. The rating should not be a numerically based decision, but a proper evaluation of the evidence you have gathered and a determination of whether the individual is deemed to have demonstrated sufficient evidence for you to be comfortable that they will be effective in the role.

Before you write anything…

  1. Read your notes fully
  2. Read and annotate the competency for what evidence you have seen.  Clearly link the evidence to the competency by assigning a positive or negative indicator to each piece of evidence, to do this tick the box, which represents the evidence you have gathered
  3. Link the evidence to the behavioural indicator, you must be able to back up your statement by evidence you have.   Use the phrase ‘demonstrated by’ or ‘evidenced by’ to help you to do this
  4. Classify one piece of evidence to one competency
  5. A bullet point style is recommended as this is a summary of the evidence not a re-write of your notes
  6. Use an overall competency definition throughout this process to ensure you are clear in what you are looking for
  7. Avoid using names or 3rd parties for confidentiality
  8. Ensure that your write-up is comprehensive and can be understood by others who may not have been in attendance at the interview itself
  9. Be consistent

Remember that under the Data Protection Act candidates have the right to see the notes and any other information that you have gathered on them.  It is your responsibility to ensure that your notes reflect only what you have observed.

For an informal chat about how we can help with your recruitment, please get in touch with Michelle on 01202 853647 or email us at info@creative-leadership.co.uk  Watch out for the next step – After the Interview.





How to Interview – Step 6 – The Competency Based Approach

19 05 2010

Competency Based Interviewing is considered to be one of the more robust methods of interviewing for likely job success (there are many views on how successful interviewing is as a predictor of job performance…)

Unlike situational interviewing (What would you do if…) competency based interviewing is essentially a structured series of questions that looks at how a candidate has done specific tasks in the past.  It’s intention is to determine the person’s likely behaviour against specific job-related competencies’.

Advantages of this type of interview are: –

  • Questions asked are based on the competencies required for the role and can be seen as relevant to the skills needed for the job by asking the candidate to provide specific examples.
  • The information can be gathered in the interview and evaluated on a rating scale against the particular competencies.
  • Information from the interview can be integrated with other sources i.e. role-play, if they are all based around the same competencies.

How to do it.

First things first, identify no more than 4 competencies  which are relevant to the job you’re recruiting for (speak to us if you need to know more about how to do this).  Some example competencies include – Communication, Initiative, Impact, Team work, Problem Solving, Leadership etc.  Determine before you start the selection process and what good and bad looks like for each of the competencies.

You may wish to share the competency headings with the candidates in advance of the interview, albeit most companies don’t.

At the interview here’s a suggestion for a framework for undertaking the competency based interview:

  • Introduction
  • Then, for each competency:
    • Introduce the competency
    • OPENING questions (tell me about a time, give me an example)
    • PROBING questions (use the B-A-C-K model to help you here by asking behavioural/appraisal/comparison and knowledge related questions)
    • Summarise what the candidate’s said
  • Close the interview
  • Candidate Question time

Summarising the evidence is a useful tool to ensure that you have understood the candidates’ example fully and also that you’ve written down what they’ve said.  The summary does not need to be a repeat of all of the evidence but should cover the key points, thereby offering the candidate an opportunity to add additional information.

During the interview you should write down as much of what they actually say as possible. This will allow you to fully evaluate your evidence against the competencies and associated behavioural indicators at the end of the process.  It’s important that you resist the urge to classify and interpret what the candidate is saying at this stage, as well as putting their comments into your own words.  Also, remember that all notes and summaries should be kept on file after the interview and can legally be requested by a candidate.  They can also be submitted as evidence in the case of an employment tribunal, so be mindful of what you write.

Once the interview is completed thank the candidate for the information they have provided and advise them of the next steps in the process.  Take some time after each interview to write-up your notes and evaluate the evidence.  We’ll spend some more time focussing on that next time.

For more information about how to competency based interview, please get in touch with Michelle on 01202 853647 or email us at info@creative-leadership.co.uk