How to prepare for an interview as a ‘Line Manager’

I previously wrote a post on how to prepare for a job interview. The focus was the candidate perspective. I was kindly asked for my thoughts from the employer perspective on the same subject. As a consequence, I want to help ‘hiring managers’ understand how they should think and prepare for an interview. Understanding allows for a positive impression, full understanding of the client and ultimately hire the top 20% of talent available on the market for their job.

The first thing you have to do is understand what you want. You would be amazed the volume of clients we have at Red Executive who want to utilize the recruitment process to identify what they want, opposed to sitting down and considering the current issue in their business specifically. They may have a broad idea of what is required and instead of identifying a specific type of profile they will engage with different types of candidates with varying skills and levels of experience. On the back of the individuals they meet and their key credentials, they will form a more specific idea of what they want. As you can appreciate this can have a negative effect on your ’employer brand’ and ultimately wastes a lot of time.

If you want to create a positive ’employer brand’ for your business, this is a massive ‘No No’. Just like the candidate has to prepare for the interview and ensure that they display the necessary enthusiasm and drive for the role, the ‘hiring manager’ has to do the same. Perhaps not in terms of the full understanding of the candidate. That is what the interview is for after all. However, we must be able to outline the ‘reason’ for the role and furthermore, what the successful individual will contribute towards the continued direction of the business. Without this information, you will simply not be able to attract the top talent. This is a key area of consideration for all individuals you will want to get on board. Without it, you will not be able to motivate them to take that step away from the safety of their current role into your business.

At Red Executive, we do this for our clients when representing them on the market. As a delivery team, we sit down and create a strategy for success which ultimately involves the creation of 4 key points for the role. This varies depending on the role, the client, their business objectives and the types of individuals suitable for the role. But they can include such things as ‘experience of a startup environment.’ ‘understanding of a particular skill or area’; ‘a specific network and a demonstrable track record of selling to said network’; and ‘a true reflection of your budget and seniority of the role’. This of course is just a few examples and by no means an exhaustive list, yet, it’s vital you understand the four key areas required for the role and gauge all candidates against these four elements.

Not only do these four key elements help you understand what the business requires, but it also allows you to make a more positive impression to the talent you want to hire. When, as outlined in the candidate focused article, the candidate asks some pressing questions, you will have all the answers required in order to make a positive impression. Remember this is a two way street and there is an element of you ‘selling’ the company and the opportunity, particularly for the top talent on the market. Preparation and understanding of your own requirement if vital.

Indeed, as the candidate has to prepare for ‘situation’ focused questions, you must utilize the 4 key elements of the role to form your questions. Understand what you want and form questions that will help you see what type of individual this candidate is and how they will fit into your culture and company outlook. Of course, the interview, must have a natural flow, but understand what you want to establish and what questions must be asked in order for you to understand if this candidate will bring value.

We also have to consider ‘informal references’. The majority of people who are engaged for roles on your behalf will have connections in common. Most likely, with people you may have worked with before and consider trusted connections or even friends. You may know some of their peers; their ‘boss’; or even of ‘former or current clients’ of theirs.

It is vital as a potential employer you resist the urge to contact them and gain further insight into this individual. This is for 2 reasons:

You don’t know the personal relationship between the potential candidate and your contact. Moreover, you weren’t involved in that relationship. So regardless of the dynamic, you will never understand the full picture of the scenario and only get one side of the equation. You need to conduct the interview and form your own opinion and utilize ‘situation’ focused questions to understand how the candidate will react in different scenarios. Feel free to press them and see how they respond to deeper questioning but the reference is for the end of the process.

Although the reference has no legal remit, it is widely accepted that it will come at the end of a process. Both of you have went through a structured process to understand if there is a ‘match’, On the face of things, you both believe there is a strong synergy but you want to have a ‘rubber stamp’ to clarify your feelings from the interview process. It is the accepted ‘ethical’ approach to this part of the process. Therefore, agree with the individual who you are going to talk to and get as wide a range of individuals as possible. If it’s a client focused role a reference from a client will say everything required. If you feel the need to talk to your connection, make the candidate aware you are going to talk to them. Transparency is key and again, will have a positive effect on your overall ’employer brand’.

As a ‘hiring manager’, if you want to hire the best talent on the market and build a business that achieves its goals via their hiring strategy you must be equally prepared as the candidate, primarily by understanding what is required and forming Situation focused questions which match your requirements.

Moreover, consider your actions is terms of ‘informal’ references. It can have an overall negative affect on your outlook and could mean you miss out on some top talent.

Interviews are probably the most important meetings you will attend during the growth of your business. Would you show up to a sales meeting without having prepared? Good luck.

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This was written by Martin Collins, the Founder & MD of Red Executive


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