November 24, 2014 12.11 pm This story is over 113 months old

Not the HR news: A humorous look at HR

Interview technique: Caroline Jay gives six tips for hiring managers on making sure interviewing potential new staff goes according to plan.

Over the next few weeks I’d like to take you through the HR minefield, you know, that ‘stuff’ you need to know but sometimes choose to ignore. We’ll take a humorous look at what can happen, along with a few tips to help you get it right. If any of the scenarios resonate with you and you would like help with your HR “stuff”, please get in touch.

Episode 1 – The Interview Nightmare
Our candidate (let’s call him David) has been invited to an interview for a New Business Sales role.

Manager – ‘So David, tell me a bit about yourself?’
David – ‘Well… I like to keep myself fit by going to the gym. Oh and I follow the F1 motor racing’
Manager – interrupts… ‘F1? Fantastic! I love the motor racing, what team do you support? We all love motor racing here, I’m sure you’ll fit in great!’
David – ‘Well, I’m a McLaren fan myself, supported Jensen for years, how about you?’
Manager – ‘Mercedes for me, Lewis drives that car like he’s stolen it!’
David – ‘Yes he does doesn’t he, sooo… can you tell me a bit more about the role? I’m interested in hearing more about the products and how the commission structure works?’
Manager – ‘Oh, yes, right, well you’ve seen the website so you know all about the products, it’s easy, sells itself, so you’ll have no problem meeting your targets. Did you see last week’s race? The conditions were so bad; they should have stopped the race don’t you think so?’
David – ‘Err, yes, I guess so… is there anything you’d like to know about my sales experience?’
Manager – ‘Mmmm… let me see… (Managers shuffles the CV around a bit and gives is a quick scan)… it all looks in order to me, looks like you did a great job at your last company…when can you start?
David – ‘Err… next week?’
Manager – Fantastic – ‘I’ll square this with HR, sort the paperwork out and see you in a week’s time, looking forward to it, the team are going to love another McLaren supporter!’

While this is a rather exaggerated scenario I’m sure some readers can relate to elements of this.

Six Tips for hiring managers:

  1. Prepare – Think of the skills and personality traits required for the role, eg: for a sales person, motivation, resilience, personality, drive, and tenacity. Prepare questions to ask every candidate. Read CV’s thoroughly, makes notes of things that may not be clear like breaks in service, key achievements. Use social media to identify with your candidate.
  2. Involve others – Select other interviewees, it’s important to get feedback from at least one other person who understands the role and the personal profile. Divide questions between interviewees to avoid repetition, it’s frustrating for a candidate to have to answer the same questions twice and makes the company look unprofessional and unprepared.
  3. The warm up – while it’s important to make candidates feel comfortable, keep the social chit chat to a minimum; Remember – finding the best person, who’s motivated, up for the challenge and who will add value to your business is why you’re there! Explain the format and how long the interview will last.
  4. The interview – Always ask the candidate what they know about the company, a candidate who hasn’t done their homework may not be a great employee. Try not to be too ‘wooden’ by asking your prepared questions word for word. Keep questions in context but try and relate them to a particular situation, eg: “I see that you were the top sales person last year, what does success look like for you? Talk me through how you achieved it?” Remember take notes; it’s difficult to remember who said what if you are seeing 4 or 5 candidates.
  5. Wrapping up the interview – Ensure the candidate is clear on expectations for the role. Allow enough time for questions. Always thank the candidate for their time and explain next steps.
  6. Making the right choice – Refer back to your original criteria. Does the candidate fit this profile? What extra value will they bring to the business? Will they fit in with the team? If required, do they have the ability to move on to other roles in the future?

Caroline Jay is a commercially aware HR professional with over 17 years experience of working within a variety of industries. Her pragmatic style enables her to gain credibility and quick results by understanding what the HR challenges are and how to get the best results. Successfully hiring and managing employees can be a daunting prospect, as is keeping abreast of ever changing employment laws. Caroline provides cost effective HR advice to businesses that may not have their own HR function and/or to businesses who need additional HR resource from time to time.