Should recruiters outsource the interview prep to other professionals?

The rubber hits the road when the candidate and hiring manager meet. We have all seen the best interviewee win the job, not necessarily the best candidate.

If the interview is that critical to a recruiter, should an expert be brought into the process and work with the candidate - or is this a skill that belongs in our own bag of tricks? Would you use an outside professional to teach your candidate how to win the interview? Is this something that is ethical or should the candidate stand on his own two feet?

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Your comment speaks to the point discussed previously about whether or not interview training causes a candidate to miss-represent their fit for the position and get hired. And, as I mentioned before it is a good question that has yet to be answered.

One of the issues that appeal to me is the difference between the have and have nots. Affluent parents pay up to $10,000 for college coaches for their children. Among other things, these coaches polish applications and do extensive interview training. Do these affluent students get selected over other more deserving but untrained students ? Similarly, not all job applicants have the benefit of interview training given in outplacement services or recruiters guidance. Do outplacement clients and recruiter's candidates get hired over candidates without the above benefits?

Also, does interview training really make an overwhelming difference?
* If I coach a candidate to identify and then clearly communicate how he will benefit the company rather than just talk about his skills and experience does this bias the selection?
* If I coach a candidate to develop success stories which she then tells in her interview does that bias the interview or simply provide information the hiring manager needs to know to make a decision?
* If a candidate develops a 30 and 60 day strategic action plan that communicates how they will provide value to the company starting day 1 does that bias the interview?
None of these strategies provide inaccurate information they just presented the critical information more clearly.

My belief is that interview training just helps a candidate identify and then communicate the information the hiring manager needs to know. If a candidate lacks the basic requirements and does not fit the culture,or is not as qualified as the next candidate, interview training or an interview presentation will not make the difference. As they say- You can't put lipstick on a pig - it doesn't make the pig any prettier and it just pisses the pig off.
Hi Eric, thank you for your well considered response to my opinion. You are absolutely right in that it came from a ethical perspective on "how" candidates are often coached. I was very intrigued to read what you had to say and I would expect nothing less in a response from someone in a position such as yours.

In all fairness what you are selling in some ways can be related to what a recruiter sells; A service which is able to be performed by a said client but is chosen to be outsourced for reasons of convenience and specialist profession. For example, a mining company can do their own recruiting here in Western Australia, as they have their own HR department- however, they will choose to use my services because they know that their time can be better spent elsewhere and also because what I put my entire focus on is what their department has a limited allocation for. i.e you will receive better results having your teeth fixed at a dentist than you will at a vet.

This said i do understand where you can add value and I would imagine that you perform an outstanding result because it's what you do. "My" point is that as recruiters, we can be more than apt in doing this ourselves. As recruiters we also help our candidates put together a professional and presentable CV--- a service which is also available from specialists in this area. Do we use them though? No. We do it ourselves because this is part of our Job.

You asked 3 very strong questions..
"*If I coach a candidate to identify and then clearly communicate how he will benefit the company rather than just talk about his skills and experience does this bias the selection?
* If I coach a candidate to develop success stories which she then tells in her interview does that bias the interview or simply provide information the hiring manager needs to know to make a decision?
* If a candidate develops a 30 and 60 day strategic action plan that communicates how they will provide value to the company starting day 1 does that bias the interview?"

The above questions/strategies are fantastic-- and quite commonly used by recruiters who do their job efficiently.

Of course not all recruiters work "End to End". I do though and i'm proud of what I do and what I can provide. This is an 'opinion' though, Eric. You have no need to defend your business because it is not under fire.

"Should recruiters outsource the interview prep to other professionals?" That's the question and "my" answer is "No" - They shouldn't have to.
Karl, you have some valid points and I can't agree more with the need to coach the client on how to be a better boss - or at least how to be a better interviewer. Could you clarify one point, please? You mention, "I go with them - this has a LOT of benefits." Could you please explain. Gracias.

Mitch Byers, InterviewRX
Absolutely, Mitch. Like a lot of recruiters, I like to make sure my candidates know how to present themselves when in front of a prospective employer. As we all know, even the best of us have our moments of challenge where we are unable to get across what would normally be a 'breeze'. This is often attributed to nerves and anxiety. By attending the interview, I am able to interject and clarify where necessary and ensure that communication is effective from both ends.

As a recruiter, I have the benefit of being able to know and understand my clients needs and expectations without prejudice or bias- Similarly for my candidates. With this knowledge I can effectively steer, where necessary, the direction of the interview.

Sometimes a client will take a direction with their interview that is somewhat arcaic and inapropriate, for example, a client of mine was looking for a sales executive to make a sizeable dent in their market here in Perth. I was fortunate enough to find a candidate that was beyond reasonable doubt, perfect. 45 mins into the interview, my candidate made mention, very politely, that she had another appointment she needed to attend. My client then went on to discuss the culture of their company, in what appeared to be an abnoxious disregard for my candidate's request. Now- I happened to know exactly why my client had done this (to test my candidate's ability to be forthright and tenacious in her objectives) however I also knew my candidate was entertaining his speach for respect that he'd travelled across the country for the interview. At this point, I interrupted and apologised that the meeting would need to be re-convened as I also had somewhere else I needed to be.

Upon exiting the building my candidate thanked me and made comment that she found him to be an 'arrogant arsehole' and that she was glad she wasn't applying for a role working directly with him. When I spoke to my client I was able to make another time to conclude the interview and I very calmly informed him that using such tactics to test a candidate would cost him very dearly. The next meeting was very positive and she secured the role with little effort.

Had I not been there- the miscommunication would would have lead to my candidate telling them what they could do with their Job !!

Make sense? =)
In my view, the answer to the question of whether or not the recruiter should outsource this work is unequivocally dependent on their ability to offer high quality interview coaching to their candidates.

On its face - if this skill, the ability to coach and train others, is one that you genuinely possess as a recruiter - then there is no need to outsource. Now, if we want to bring economics into the picture that could skew the answer for some. It may be more cost effective to have that third party trainer work with the candidate while the recruiter goes about the business of generating more business. Which adds the most value to the practice of the recruiter? What is the threshold for making that call? Is it about the comp level of the candidate? I may be willing to invest more of my own (hopefully expensive) time with a highly compensated candidate then with someone making less then say, 125K. What is the return on my investment? Or, if my practice is focused on high volume roles (bank tellers, call center reps, etc.), it may still make sense to outsource this coaching because I have to generate so much more business to make my margins work.

In answer to your last question - yes, it is ethical. I emphatically believe that proper prepping of candidates is imperative. There can be no question that you want the candidate to go to the interview and present their skills, knowledge, competencies, abilities and accomplishments in the best possible manner. After all, doesn't the client need this information? In fact, aren't they paying you as the recruiter to help them tease this candidate profile out for them? Besides, we in the corporate recruiting world (yes, I am on the dark side) spend a great deal of time coaching our hiring managers and the interview teams on how to conduct interviews and to evaluate candidates.
I have had the privileged of sitting in both seats here, the interviewer and also the executive career coach preparing candidates for interview.

I am concerned that a good interviewer cannot detect a slick candidate or one that has been coached in slick answers.
In my experience in sitting on interview panels my colleagues have cringed when I ask my set of questions, because they are aimed at the individual and what they 'really' know about themselves and their capabilities and their proposal for the role!
With over 400 executive career coaching candidates I have found two (2) who could really articulate what they do and their unique value proposition to an employer!
The rest just run out of gas in minutes! or are less than convincing with their 'canned' responses.
In answer to the question, I think candidates who appear to have the 'right stuff' should be coached to be able to fully articulate it! if that cannot be done by the recruiter then outsource it.
I think there are as many great candidates who don't get the role because they cannot articulate what they have to offer as there are candidates who get the role because they are just 'good at the interview'

My approach is:
1. change their mindset about the interview process to B2B, this is a business transaction and Eric rightly says the resume is a brochure of what the business has to offer.
2. Get them to understand who they are, what their passion is, what their values are, what gets them out of bed in the morning, what are their drivers. Sometimes this results in a withdrawal from the position (better sooner than later)
3. Define their value proposition for the role and the quantifiable foundation for that proposition.
4. Research and understand the real 'need' of the company and how 'they' can meet that need this being the essence of B2B discussion.
5. Create their business proposal in writing.
6. Learn how to engage and build relationships within the interview discussion, not just good response but genuine engagement and enthusiasm for what they have to offer.

By the time they have completed this exercise (plus more) they are ready to fully engage in the interview process and thoroughly negotiate their business proposal.
I don't see this as making them 'slick' in fact the idea repulses me, it simply makes them engage with what they really have to offer in a way that is effective and compelling.
I can expand for anyone who want the full process, however I am aware I am writing the book here which is inappropriate.
By the way, most executive candidates will invest in their own success if they are aware of their shortcomings, so the economics are not an issue as I see it.

I guess I do sound defensive- I am pretty passionate about this interview process and helping people get jobs.

Like all professions, recruiters have a range of quality. I have been on the recruited end of things only a few times. One recruiter provided no interview preparation. The other said, "ask a lot of questions and get there on time...good luck"

Your next post about going to an interview is very interesting and is a dramatic cultural difference in recruiting practices. I have never heard of a recruiter sitting in an interview, certainly not a contingency recruiter. The only additional person trying to get into interviews in the US these days are "helicopter" mothers, you know the ones that are constantly hovering.
LOL - That's funny ! (Helicopter Mothers) - i'm pretty sure I have one of those!

Interestingly enough, there are not a lot of recruiters that do it here, either. When done right, it is highly effective and I receive a lot compliments from both candidates and clients for doing so. Its not uncommon for new clients of mine to be more than a little bit surprised when I mention that I will be attending, but with a little bit of trust, a lot more more is developed.

I look at it the same way I look at all sales-- "You don't ask, you don't get." Once you have completed a few interviews in this style- not only are you appreciated for the value added to disarming communication barriers, you are also appreciated as a recruiter that actually gives a damn about both client and candidate. The more time you offer, the more value 'you' gain because the service is right in front of their eyes and cannot be dissmissed.

Where you mention the recruiters that gave you such quality advice as "ask a lot of questions" - I truly appreciate the frustration as I have had the same. I believe it is becoming too easy for people to get employment as a recruiter- we should all (in my opinion) be more responsible for the effort invested in our processes.
Hi Eric,
may be i never heard it before--about the Pig and the Lipstick!!!!!interesting----but Bill out of his experience has a point--many a good candidates are not able to make it since they don't know the tricks of the trade--which a recruter knows and can coach himself or outsource---you gain a permanent client and a friend that way--



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