The balance of power in an interview
The interview process is an unavoidable part of the recruitment process, but are market dynamics influencing the interview experience?
Now in my 17th year as a recruiter, I am increasingly reflective of how the industry has changed in the days since I first started this fascinating consulting role. Lots of things have changed and mostly for the better – I wasn’t quite the rolodex and filing cabinet generation but not far off! One thing that has remained a constant and will continue to do so is the interview process that leads to a new hire.
I was struck recently by an article in the Irish Independent articulating a shift in the balance of power from interviewer to interviewee, driven by skills shortages in certain sectors. Skills shortages are a prevalent theme for the manufacturing organisations I work with to find great leaders, but I am not sure this changes the dynamics of the interview.
Candidates may have to undertake an interview with the recruiter, and then have at least two (sometime more) company interviews. The interview process generally starts as an engagement between two strangers – a few hours later (probably conducted over a number of weeks) you are making a decision that could lead to spending a huge amount of time in each other’s company.
Our role is to find the right talent, evaluate it, adjudge fit, select then advise client and candidate accordingly. Good head hunters read people, they get to the heart of motivations and drivers in what is a time constrained process. It is this insight that I believe offers our clients real knowledge of the candidates that we put in front of them. We also sell the prospective client to the candidate, making sure they have a clear picture of the organisation they might join in advance of meeting them. We allow plenty of time for the candidate to ask any questions that aid this process.
When conducting interviews, organisations that have created a thriving workplace will want to be sure they are bringing individuals in that have the right skills and attitude to make a positive impact. They must also consider candidate perception with many influencing factors beyond just job content and pay & rations. Flexibility, sustainability, working environment and skills development are just some of the areas the best candidates will want to probe.
Interviewing is a relatively short interaction, but it is the best selection system we have come up with. It must be a genuine two-way discussion and meeting of minds, an engaging experience that supports the likelihood of a long-term association. Market dynamics shouldn’t influence the interview experience – it is a process that is by its nature pressurised; but can also be enjoyable when conducted without thought to who is in charge.