6 Shakespeare Inspired Quotes to Help You Improve your Interview Process

Image source: Shakespeare comparisons via Wikicommons

Here is a Shakespearean riff on the recruitment process.

The Bard: A Surprising Source of Hiring Wisdom

To those who have been mentally scarred and tortured by studying Shakespeare at some point in their school or college life; I apologise for any unwelcome flashback to that traumatic time.

In an age where many businesses struggle to survive year on year, drawing on the wisdom of 451 years of meaningful advice, relevance and insight into the human condition can’t be a bad thing.

Your trauma accepted, not even you can deny the Bard’s astonishing contribution to the English language. His plays and sonnets reveal his canny understanding of emotions and the motivations of human beings.

These sound like some of the skills of a master HR practitioner to me.

The actual interview process is like theatre. So why not steal some staging tips from the master himself.

Here are 10 tips inspired by 6 Quotes from Shakespeare’s plays to help you set the stage for an A-list interview process.

All the world’s a stage,

And all the men and women merely players;…” As You Like it

1. Set the stage by ensuring the interview takes place in a quiet setting with phones off or diverted. No interruptions. Don’t check your phone, tablet, or computer during the interview. It’s just plain rude.

If you offer water or other beverage, be sure to change the glass or cup between candidates! Oh yes, I am going there!

2. Your furniture layout speaks volumes too. Are you conducting the interview with your desk between you and the candidate? Is your panel interview set up for interrogation? Is interviewing from the sofa brand appropriate? What’s your choice – lucky horse shoe or Berlin Wall furniture set up?

3. Plan and divide the interview in 3 Acts.

  • Act 1: Welcome and putting the candidates at his/her ease. A relaxed candidate typically tells you more about their experiences, personality and qualities.
  • Act 2: The main part or ‘meat’ of the interview.  This is where you dive in with your prepared questions. I cover this in point 5.
  • Act 3: Ensure you have answered the candidate’s questions and let them know what will happen next. For example. Will there be another stage of the selection? How will they be advised of the outcome of the interview? When will they hear from you again?

“…better three hours too soon than a minute too late.” Merry Wives of Windsor

4. Timing is everything: Be respectful of your candidate’s time. Make sure you are on time and prepared for conducting the interview. It sets the perfect professional tone and scene.

Divide the time available for interviews equally between the candidates; but build in a little buffer of extra time between candidates. Some chatty candidates will go over their allotted time whilst others will be quick to exit.

It is the Recruiter’s responsibility to maintain control over the interview.

5. Writing the Script: Ensure you pick questions that are directly related to the criteria required for the position advertised. Ask questions that relate specifically to the role – specific skills, behaviours, values, experience, qualifications etc.

Open questions (How, When, Why, What) are best as they allow the candidate to demonstrate (or not) their skills, experience or abilities.

Avoid too many closed questions that prompt yes or no responses. E.g. do you enjoy meeting customers? These are dead-ends unless used to bring a long-winded response to a close or wrap up the interview.

6. Casting: Hire for D.A.T.A – Desire, Attitude (values), Talent and Ability.

 “Brevity is the soul of wit” Hamlet

7. The Actors and Roles: The candidate is the star of recruitment marketing campaign and the hero of the interview. The recruiter and the organisation’s benefits and features are the actor and props respectively.

In a successful interview, the candidate has 80% of the speaking parts and the Recruiter has 20%. Keep it brief Recruiter, and structure your questions and dialogue accordingly.

 “Truth will out”The Merchant of Venice

8. Everyone’s a critic: Know that your candidate will have thoroughly researched and investigated the company and even you (the Recruiter). Between LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Peer references et al; information is power.

Be ready to answer some very pointed questions from your candidates.

“I like not fair terms and a villain’s mind” Merchant of Venice

9. Be Ready to Sell, sell, sell! Know what makes your organisation great to work for – salary, perks, culture, study opportunities, professional training and development. What of these appeal to your target candidate? Remember it’s not always about salary!

Caution don’t over promise. Advertising spin must never trump the reality of the candidate/employee experience. If you allow spin to triumph, it is a road to ruin.

10. The Final Word:

 “…no legacy is so rich as honesty.” All’s Well that Ends Well.

So Savvy Recruiter/ HR Marketer, go set your stage for a stellar interview process. Happy and successful recruiting.

The full version of this article was originally posted in the blog The HR Rabbit Hole on19th July 2015.

Nicole is the Founder and Principal Consultant of Aquarius Human Resources Consulting Ltd. Passionate about HR as Art, she is an advocate of Creative HR. Connect via Twitter @AquariusHRLtd.

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