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They're Just Not That into You


Cher Campbell
Cher Campbell

Having been a recruiter for 16 years, I regularly encounter the constant juggle between managing the decision maker and the candidate’s expectations when trying to find the perfect candidate. We look at the opportunity from all perspectives and one of the challenges we face is that sometimes it’s the interviewer who doesn’t always prepare.

In an employment market where plenty of candidates apply, the reality is that pile of CVs on your desk will probably yield one or two gems – the one you want. The candidate who ticks all the boxes, has all the experience and on a bad day pretty much shoots the lights out. But how do you ensure your company ticks all of their boxes?

Employers forget this stellar candidate is in high demand and will often have more than one opportunity offered to them.

What could go wrong? I have a vacancy, they want the job, surely they’ll take it?
Let’s look at a case study to understand what could go wrong: Jim, the client, is an excellent boss. His staff love him. But he’s jamming an interview between two important finance meetings. As a result, he is rushed and his series of questions feel textbook and impersonal.

Diane, the candidate, walks away with mixed feelings and isn’t sure whether Jim was interested. She doesn’t know if she could see herself working for Jim as she would have preferred to have a candid chat about her capabilities and where she could use her skills within the business. Jim of course, being the greatest boss ever, loved Diane and expects her feedback will be favourable. Why wouldn’t it?

It’s an awkward situation all round. Diane takes another job where she feels like the interview was a two way street. She answered the same formula questions Jim asked about what happened, the outcome and what she’d do differently next time however the delivery was completely different and she felt like a human with the other employer as opposed to a number and another meeting in-between meetings. Interviewers should prepare for an interview as much as the candidate to ensure they really get to what motivates them and makes them tick.

Where does it all go wrong?
As recruiters we see too much focus placed on generic and formulaic lines of questioning during interviews. Of course you need to know what sort of digital campaigns your prospective online marketing coordinator has spearheaded and some of the technicalities for the role. However, these days, the more casual “meet for a coffee and a chat” style of interview is far more successful and unlocks the candidate’s personality and potential red flags much faster.
In a formal interview it’s easy for candidates to be equally formulaic and mask tendencies that might surface once a certain comfort level is achieved.

Highly structured interviews can definitely work on occasions but for the most part, a genuine conversation about skills and experience coupled with a revelation or two about what each of you like to do in your spare time is far more effective.

Walls come down and before you know it you have found out the real reason they left their last job: “…everyone had a problem with me so I just walked out.” Red flag. Sirens. Thanks for coming. All the best to you.

When people bring their “A” game to an interview and don’t feel that sense of comfort that story is never told and you could end up hiring your worst nightmare.

You have made an offer to the candidate and so has someone else. How do you make this happen?
You need to establish the motivators. Are they chasing the almighty dollar or are there other factors?

Meet Peter and Steve. Peter is about to offer Steve a senior position. Steve is exactly who Peter has been looking for.

Steve has another offer. The roles are similar, dollars are on par. Not a lot separates the two.
Steve talks about his kids and how he has always wanted to coach his son’s soccer team. It’s never been an option. The kids will be grown up before he knows it. Where does the time go?

Light Bulb Moment! Peter offers Steve flexibility and suggests that Steve leaves every Wednesday at 3pm so he can coach his son’s team. Steve is overwhelmed and feels valued. This show of faith has floored him. The other company have thrown an extra $10K Steve’s way but in the end Peter’s offer is more attractive and Steve accepts.

The motivator for Steve was work/life balance. More money is not always the answer. Prospective employers should take the time to understand what motivates candidates, and see what they can offer to get a role over the line.

So the next time you enter an interview think about how you want it to go – what do you want this person to walk away thinking about your business and the opportunity in-front of them and how can you stand out as the employer of choice?


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