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Interview Etiquette for Employers

Not much that happens here surprises us. We’ve heard and seen weird and wonderful things. It keeps our job interesting and gives us great stories to tell clients and recruits, though we always change the names to protect the guilty.

Last week I was reading an article about ‘horrible’ interviews. A lot of stories about recruitment are usually about the candidate but employers can be just as bad. There have been occasions when we have had to pull an employer out of a hole and work swiftly to rectify a bad situation. Before I started running Russell HR Consulting I can remember working with a woman in the last 90s who had been asked by the prospective employer about her plans to start a family. Incredibly, it was the HR Director who asked the question.This particular article has surveyed over 2,000 young professionals and asked about their interview experiences. Here are the key findings (and it doesn’t sound as though some employers have move on all that far!)

  • 37% said that the interviewer had not read their CV before the interview.
  • 41% said the interviewer had shown up late for the meeting.
  • 15% had been asked their age.
  • 8.5% said they had been asked about their family plans.
  • 1.5% claimed the interviewer was drunk during the meeting.
  • 1.1% said the interviewer had fallen asleep.

Sounds like a recipe for a disastrous interview as well as being at risk for claims of discrimination. By asking inappropriate personal questions you open yourself up to risks of claims of discrimination and there are plenty of people out there who look for this just to take an employer to tribunal.

A recruitment process can be time consuming but not following it through properly will mean that you recruit people who can’t or won’t do the job and need to be managed out before the end of their probationary period. Then you will have done twice as much work, paid an employee to do the role he can’t really do and you will be back at square one.

A good quality candidate will be prepared to do some work before reaching the interview stage. We ask all candidates to write a covering letter when submitting a CV, providing evidence that he (or she) has the skills listen in the person specification. For a candidate who really wants the role and can take instruction, he will produce a good covering letter, or will at least do what has been asked. You should be basing a decision about whether to bring someone in for interview based on the quality of the work submitted. Take time to read through each application and only select those who meet your criteria. Don’t ask the candidate to do the work if you do not read it. If you invite him to interview and he has not done as asked you will be wasting his time and your own.

Be prepared for the interview. The questions you ask should be based on the job the candidate has applied for, testing whether he has the necessary skills. It shouldn’t matter if he is white, black, green, 17 years old or 60 years old. All you need evidence of is whether he can do the job.

The recruitment process is not just about the candidate showing what he can bring to the role, it is also about selling your company to the candidate and making him want to work with you. This is the very start of the employment relationship. The recruitment process is your shop window into the world of potential candidates. Rudeness and lack of preparation will spread across the world via Twitter (or whatever) in the most embarrassing way if you’re not careful. Remember the furore last year when Rachel Fox applied for a job with the Sherlock Holmes museum and wrote to the museum’s curator Andrea von Ehrenstein, asking some fairly simple and quite reasonable questions. Ms Fox received the most extraordinary letter in response, combining unhelpfulness and incredible discourtesy. The episode went viral.

Employees are volunteers. They are entitled to ask questions to help them reach a conclusion as to whether to apply. Always treat applicants with courtesy. Even if they are not suitable applicants in this occasion, they may be in five years’ time.......

Consider what kind of message you are giving across, from the way you dress, timely arrival at the interview and the way you conduct yourself. If you are clearly bored and falling asleep, not only are you giving a bad impression of yourself to the candidate but you are also giving the company a bad name.

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