3 Things I Learnt from Being an Interviewer

Six months into my job and I was told that I had to recruit my replacement due to my promotion. As far as I’m aware (and anyone else for that matter), this is definitely not the norm. Fortunately for me, I have a fantastic and very supportive manager who knows how to delegate and is not afraid to buckle the rules. This was quite a responsibility but I was really happy to take on the task; I saw it as the first of many challenges to demonstrate my capability and prove my ability to handle a greater amount of responsibility. I would also be able to validate my understanding of the business values, required work ethic and desirable skills by selecting a candidate who closely matched them. Whoever I chose would essentially be a reflection upon me, my ability to make good judgements and my vetting skills… so no pressure there.

What started out as a relatively exciting task soon turned into a very frustrating one. Of all the CVs I had received from the agency I was working with, only one was free of basic formatting/spelling/grammatical errors. I ended up interviewing nearly all the candidates (out of sheer desperation) and they bordered from complete arrogance to the other extreme, a complete ball of sweaty hands and nerves.

Three key things really stood out for me during the interviews, and it was on the basis of this that I made my eventual decision in deciding whom to hire. So to all the graduates or employment seekers out there, I hope you find the three following tips helpful in your job hunt:

  1. Don’t be a mess
Don't be a mess
Avoid this face

No one wants to hire someone who appears all over the place and disorganised. It instils absolutely 0 confidence in the employer and increases risk in their eyes if they were to hire you. Can you do the job? Can you keep it together if a lot of work is thrown at you? Can they be confident that you will not only be able to do the work, but be able to do it to a high standard? It’s crucial to keep in mind that when someone hires you, they are essentially making an investment in you, and the lesser the risk is in doing so, the more likely they are to want you. Recruitment costs a lot of time and money, and so much time and effort is taken to avoid the mistake of hiring someone who isn’t right for the organisation, the role and the team. So if you’re saying that you’re organised and put-together, make sure your answers demonstrate this just as much as your body language, eye contact and gestures.

  1. Professionalism is essential

Professionalism can never go wrong in my opinion. The problem with this is that to attain a level of professionalism requires you to have experience in the working world in the first place. So for graduates fresh out of university with limited work experience this may not come naturally, but the least you can do is LOOK the part and ACT the part: essentially ‘fake it till you make it’. Dress accordingly, start with a strong handshake and speak clearly and confidently. This can all be practised beforehand. The employer wants to know that if they were to put you in front of a client tomorrow that you would be able to hold your own and represent the company well. A lot of this will be affected by the perception of both your physical presentation and mannerisms and how you express yourself verbally. Professionalism also entails an element of personableness and being able to work with others despite differences. If you can demonstrate this in some capacity in the interview, further brownie points to you.

This may work if the interviewer is male
This may work if the interviewer is male
  1. Knowledge, Knowledge, Knowledge
    1. About the industry
    2. About the company and the role
    3. About your skills

It’s absolutely shocking how many people turn up to an interview with scant knowledge about the industry and company. Considering this, it makes it really easy for me, as an interviewer and employer, to divorce people from the running faster than Kim Kardashian did to Kris Humphries. Armed with this knowledge, you as a potential candidate can make yourself stand out by the simple fact of knowing the latest developments in the industry, the company history and their current situation, the role and how this fits into the organisation, as 90% of candidates fail to demonstrate this knowledge comprehensively from my experience. If the role requires you to conduct market research, and you can’t even demonstrate basic knowledge about the company, it doesn’t matter how many examples you provide of work experience involving market research- the interviewer will have a very hard time reconciling the disjunction between your words and your actions and will probably have already made up their mind about your true abilities and commitment. So the key takeaway here is to demonstrate your knowledge as fully as possible, and how strongly your character and skills align with the organisation and role you’re applying for.

For me, these were the three crucial factors that defined the most viable candidate. Naturally I took into account team fit, integrity and overall personality, but these things were all made simpler by the fact that the candidate was able demonstrate a high level of professionalism, knowledge and put-togetherness (if that’s a word). Overall, recruitment is bloody stressful and many times I ended up doubting myself; but thankfully this process ended rather successfully and we ended up recruiting a great candidate :D.

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