I can recall having to coach candidates on “Best practice” for Interviews. These interviews would be done face to face at their prospective employers offices. Now as a Recruiter I am a control-freak! I want to give my candidates the very best opportunity to land the role, so that involved me ensuring we removed any possibility of things going wrong. Don’ be late. Wear appropriate business attire. Don’t be late. Take a copy of your CV and the Job Spec with you. Don’t be late. Maintain good body language. Don’t be late. Prepare some questions to ask at the end, ideally not “how many days holiday do I get?” but meaningful role-related questions. Oh…and DON’T BE LATE!!
Inevitably, no matter how much micro-management you think you have done, you always had no-shows; people turning up late, looking scruffy, poorly prepared and showing very little interest in the role! I would say that at least 1 in 5 booked interviews went seriously wrong for one of the above reasons…
Now there is seemingly a Pandemic silver lining for the industry. Faster and much more convenient interview processes that work around busy schedules and poor public transport!!
Now even the most cynical of recruiters must admit that something good has emerged from the torrid time the industry has endured since the global pandemic hit. The rise of employers prioritising a swift and streamlined interview process. Now of course, we have been banging this drum for some time already but that “advice” was misconstrued as a biased recruiter just trying to hurry along a decision for their own gain. That may have been partly true, but the essence of it was to remove all the potential mitigating factors that can often delay and cloud a decision-making process. Just because the train was delayed – it shouldn’t have resulted in the candidate being removed from the process, but often precious C-level interviewees would not take any excuse, no matter how genuine it was.
Of course this new way of hiring throws in a fresh set of challenges…dogs jumping up on your lap midway through an interview or kids shouting for some “help” on the toilet. Now the great thing about this stuff is, it happens on both sides of the table! And, in my experience, these are often ice-breaking and endearing events that show a bit more about who the real person is that you are going to be working with. We have all waded through this quagmire together and faced the same challenges when working from home so these slight hiccups have been dismissed and smiled upon with a fresh heart full of empathy.
Now do I think that face to face interviews are a thing of the past? Call me old-fashioned but I say No. They really shouldn’t be. There is going to be a period of awkwardness around these interviews though – do we shake hands? Bump elbows? Sit 2m apart? Should I be wearing a mask? Open a window? Both parties have a minefield of courtesies to consider nowadays. But I do feel there is still a need to leave that door open. In some cases, it is absolutely necessary to visit your new employer’s offices, to meet the team and really get a feel for the business culture. But I do think that in such a candidate-driven market, where every strong candidate is entertaining more than one or two offers – employers have now recognised the need to move fast. They won’t let schedules hold them up, or call someone back 3 or 4 times to sit there in person. We are starting to move towards a new age in recruiting where we recognise how hard it is to excuse yourself from both professional and personal commitments to trek halfway across Middle Earth for a fourth stage interview with HR and the office cleaner!
The economy really suffered through this pandemic, but if we are to bounce back from this as fast as we can – this welcome change to the interviewing processes seemingly adopted by the masses will be a major contributing factor in that recovery.