Interviewing – Tips from the Barefoot Recruiter

The world has no shortage of advice.

A quick google search will find you a million tips on interviewing: some of which is good advice some … not so much.  No harm in checking it out and seeing what will work for you.  However, do remember these barefoot basics:

Aim with precision

At the risk of repeating myself too often, the starting point is the analysis you did before you went to the market.  Knowing exactly what skills, experience, and personality type you are looking for makes a huge difference.  The old saying ‘if you take aim at nothing you will hit the bullseye every time’ fits here like a glove.


Back to basics

Whatever your preferred interview style there are some basics that apply here too.

  • Make the interview welcoming, it is an exchange of information not an interrogation.  Remember a good candidate is also checking you out to see if they want to work for you.  They will have other options.
  • A quiet private space with no interruptions is a must.  A local café is no place for an interview.
  • Make sure they know well in advance what your process is, when where and how the interview will take place.  What will happen afterward?
  • Use open-ended questions, ask the candidate to give examples from a work experience to support their answers.
  • Be aware of things you may want to verify at the reference checking stage.
  • Check: do their answers match their CV?
  • Trust your memory, taking notes will distract you from your role.  Leave time between interviews to complete your notes and update your matrix.

Some employers like to use the same prepared questions for each candidate, my response is what will this achieve? Your candidates are all different, do you want to know more about them and their potential fit for you, or do you want to play fair?

If you have used a psychometric profiling tool (which I recommend) it will help you target very specific questions to the candidate in front of you.  Read more here.

Be nice, but not too nice

SmileA common mistake I have observed in good employers – is being so keen to allay the candidate’s nerves that they couch their questions in such a way as to give the candidate the ideal answers.  This makes it very hard to assess the candidate.

How important is your gut?

If your gut is telling you something – think about why.  Gut responses are not reliable; however, they do tend to come from somewhere.  It may be somewhere relevant, equally likely – it may not.  If your gut feeling is based on your genuine workplace experience trust it, but first consider:

Do you like this person because they are:

  • Attractive? The world belongs to the beautiful people.  It doesn’t make them the best candidate, nor does it mean you should discard them.  Focus on attributes.
  • Like you? We are all pre-disposed to like people who are like us.  This might mean they will fit well in your culture BUT it won’t necessarily indicate their ability to succeed in the role.
  • Remind you of a previous successful employee?

Or do you like them because they have the attributes you are looking for?

Similarly, do you dislike them because:

  • They have no fashion sense?
  • Remind you of your mother-in-law?
  • Have an abrasive personality?

Or do you dislike them because they don’t have the experience, skills, and attributes you want?

If practical set them a task to demonstrate their technical competence at or following the interview.

Don’t skimp on the prep work

A quick once over of the person’s resume is not interview preparation.

Find out as much as you can about the person prior to the interview.  Be aware of any gaps or anomalies in the resume.  Look for examples in their previous experience that you want them to expand on at the interview.  Don’t be afraid to check them on social media, they will probably have checked you out.  Take notice of how they treated your front office staff on arrival.  How well have they prepared?  Did they bring originals of their qualifications or examples of their successes?

Remember you are looking for the right person not the best person.

Don’t just take the best of a sad bunch; if you haven’t found the right person keep looking.  A poor choice is much more stressful on your other employees than managing short-staffed in the interim.  It is also much less costly for you.

I hope this helps you on your journey.  Questions? Get in touch or drop them below.

Yours as Ever,

The Barefoot (SME) Recruiter

Picture Credits

Featured image (top) by Rosie (12)

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