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How the best recruiters prep their candidates

Making sure your candidates succeed at the interview stage requires some preparation, and there are several things you need to make sure you have covered.

After seeking out the top talent and vetting their CVs and cover letters, the time will come for them to go through the interview process. As a recruitment agency, you might take care of this process yourself, but often your clients will want to conduct the actual interviews. If this is the case, it is a good idea to prep your candidates.

If you want to show your client that you are providing them with the best talent, the candidates you put forward will need to do well at an interview. However, this isn’t something many people find they are naturally good at. A lot of career-minded people only go through interviews every few years when they are between jobs, and may have to relearn the skills needed to succeed at this stage of recruitment.

To give you and your candidate the best chance of success, you should coach them on the interview process and try to prepare them for it as well as possible. Your own experience interviewing people will be valuable here, but there are some key points you shouldn’t neglect.

Refine their body language

Interviewers will already have a good idea about your candidates’ skills and qualifications – that’s what CVs are for, after all – so the interview is more about learning how they are as a person. Unfortunately, a significant part of whether or not we like someone is subconscious, which is why small things like body language can be vitally important.

For example, the idea of giving a firm handshake might be cliched, but it’s still an important part of meeting someone, especially in a professional context. A study from the US conducted mock interviews with students and found that those with firmer handshakes were seen as more hireable at the end of the process.

Similarly, making eye contact is another stereotypical part of body language that is nevertheless still neglected by many. One study has found that the best average time to hold eye contact is for 3.3 seconds in order to make the person you’re looking at feel comfortable.

Help them plan their journey

SimplyHired surveyed around 850 hiring managers to find out what factors affected their decision whether or not to take on a candidate. Overwhelmingly, 93 per cent agreed that applicants arriving late would provide a negative impression, making them less likely to be hired.

On the other hand, 75 per cent agreed that candidates arriving early made them more likely to get the job. As such, you should make sure travel is a key part of your candidate preparation. It might seem simplistic, but you should go over their route and method of transport to make sure they arrive before the interview is scheduled to start.

Pulic transport can be unreliable and cars can get stuck in traffic, so make sure you have them leave plenty of time to get to the interview. Try to get them there at least half an hour early; they can always get a coffee to kill some time, so having that buffer zone will help prevent them getting delayed so much they are late.

Plan out answers to common questions

You can’t know exactly what your candidates are going to get asked in an interview. However, you can certainly prepare them for the most likely questions, so they have solid answers ready and don’t end up stumbling or saying the wrong thing.

For example, more than half (56 per cent) of hiring managers ask something along the lines of “Why are you looking for a new job?” There are a number of good answers to this, but 78 per cent of those who ask it are looking for a candidate who will talk about a desire to progress in their career and take on more responsibilities.

You can even research specific companies on sites like Glassdoor, where candidates who have gone through the interview process for that firm can provide the questions they were asked. Take these with a pinch of salt, as they might be misleading or out-of-date, but they can be a good resource to get an idea of the priorities of the interviewers.



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