Recruitment interviewing is, for me, a privilege and a great experience and as an interviewer I have seen many candidates with various types of ability. Some candidates are well aware of their skills and capabilities and can effortlessly apply their knowledge and experience to the role they are being interviewed for. They are confident, informed, prepared and generally give a good interview.
Sometimes we meet those who are over confident, maybe due to nerves, they give inappropriate answers often dropping in popular phrases, jargon or buzzwords thinking it all sounds impressive. Although they may answer the questions easily, have they listened to the question and given an answer that is relevant in relation to the role and their experience? Sadly not, in many cases.
Then we get to the visibly nervous candidates. Those who dry up. They sit in front of you, clearly petrified, stumble over their words and at times dissolve into utter panic. They give short and unclear answers and usually don’t pose any questions to the interviewer – even when prompted. These are the people who really affect me as an interviewer, I have been there, I know how that feels and I know that the situation can be avoided. I have interviewed people whom I already know in the workplace. They may perform perfectly well in their current role. They have the experience and capability to do the job they are being interviewed for but suddenly, in the interview situation, they go to pieces.
The experiences I’d had with nervous candidates is what prompted me to develop an awareness programme for coaching people prior to a job interview. Before leaving my corporate job to launch a business I provided coaching to friends and family. The feedback and their interview successes suggested that this would be a worthwhile service to offer as part of my business model. After coaching, 95% of the people I have taken through my programme have gone on to secure the job that they had applied for. It is important to stress that there is no guarantee of success, the onus is very much on the candidate but my results to date demonstrate that with the right level of coaching and preparation guidance, they can succeed.
However there is always room for improvement. Further research was needed so I sought input and opinions from a wider range of expertise and designed a survey to be shared among a broad spectrum of HR and Training specialists with experience across a range of businesses.
So, before I continue, is there really a need for a recruitment interview coaching service? I collected responses from over 150 experts in the recruitment field and the answer is definitely a resounding YES!
2. The Results
To begin, I would like to thank everyone who helped with this research either by completing the survey or providing valuable insights and information based on personal experience as a recruitment interviewer.
It is important to establish if there is a need for such a service before considering further development of the coaching programme. A straightforward closed question that all respondents answered gave the following result:
Therefore, did the respondents believe that there is a benefit to providing job interview skills coaching? Absolutely! Yes they did.
2.2 So what are the issues?
From an interviewer’s perspective, I wanted to know what interviewers find to be the main problems that candidates present during the interview assessment. Although a specific list was provided in the survey, there was an option to select ‘other’ and respondents could add their comments. Here is a sample of some of those comments:
“Little or no eye contact, weak handshake, not able to establish a rapport”
“Preparation. In most interviews the questions are the same and interviewees should prepare responses…..”
“Nerves are a big factor but I think this is in the main due to candidates not preparing sufficiently”.
“They forget to bring their personality into the interview room – it’s usually left at the door….”
So if we consider the requirement of pre-interview intervention via coaching, what are the main issues that can be overcome?
The top three, in order, as you can see from the chart are; confidence, rambling and inappropriate answers to standard interview questions. Effective preparation, thorough research and question & answer practice would eliminate these issues as would the ability to provide suitable examples to back up the candidate’s answers.
2.3 Room for Improvement?
To enable improvements to be made to the current recruitment interview skills awareness programme I wanted to know, from the experts, what elements should be included in order to prepare candidates and help them to perform to the best of their ability at interview. The following chart is an illustration of information taken from comments made by all respondents. Using the most repeated key words I produced a list of the most common points that respondents feel should be covered by such a coaching programme:
As the old saying goes, “by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail” (Benjamin Franklin). Quite clearly, preparation is key to a successful interview. After all, if you are prepared – and that includes doing company research – it seems sensible to presume that confidence, positive body language and relating relevant experience will follow.
The level of skill required for a coach is how to correctly apportion each of these factors. It will depend upon the candidate’s individual strengths and weaknesses – something the coach needs to assess very carefully during the coaching session. However it is important for any coach to ensure that all of the above points are covered to some degree.
2.4 Is Recruitment Interview Skills Coaching Worthwhile?
The simple answer, provided quite categorically by 83% of respondents, is yes! Interviewers would recommend interview skills coaching to candidates.
The majority of respondents also said that it is a service that they are very likely to use, if not for themselves personally, then as part of their recruitment process.
From all of the responses collected it appears quite evident that recruitment experts see recruitment interview skills awareness as a service that is beneficial, not only to candidate, but to themselves also.
On the whole, it is clear that recruitment industry experts see that coaching for recruitment interview awareness skills is a viable option. There are many things that can let a candidate down on the day and the most common cause, as stated many,many times, is lack of preparation. Preparation can cover quite a range of activities; personal appearance, punctuality, company knowledge, relating own skills and knowledge to the job requirements, to name a few. Listening skills, asking interesting questions and being negative about a former or current employer were also popular subjects raised over and over. For a coaching programme to be successful, all of these points must be taken into account to ensure the candidate is organised and equipped to deal with any interview scenario.
On a personal level this has been a valuable exercise. With a 95% success rate in interview skills coaching and a programme that covers almost all the issues raised, I can say that the support I’ve provided to candidates so far has been fairly comprehensive. With the information collected from this survey, the programme can be improved and expanded to include features not previously covered.
Finally, I would once again like to thank everyone who contributed to this survey for their time, their thoughts, sharing their knowledge and experience and for the good wishes. Thank you.