The Interview "Prep" Talk : Advice from The REKRUTR Vault


This week I want to take some time to talk about one of the most important parts of the recruitment process that is often overlooked; prepping the candidate for interview.

It has always amazed me that so many otherwise exceptional recruiters will work so hard to identify a good job order; find the ideal candidate; set up an interview and then drop the ball. Why would anyone work so hard and then quit before the job is done?

You are the coach! You are in control of this process, and it's your turn to take the information you've gathered from your client during this process, combine it with the talent you have found, and create a win, win, win. The client wins. The candidate wins. You win! Even a champion player (candidate) needs a "Prep" talk. This is how you do it:

Schedule a call with the candidate two days prior to the interview if time allows. If the interview is happening sooner, move up the call, but make sure you plan this call and let your candidate know it is mandatory and they should be prepared to take notes. This call is your prep talk.

Prepare the details that you will go over with the candidate before the call. What does the candidate need to know before they meet with your client? Ultimately, this candidate is a reflection on you and your business. It is in your best interest to do everything you can to be sure that this candidate is impressive.

Review Due Diligence.

Don't assume that even an executive level candidate will be prepared for the interview without coaching. Remind the candidate to research the company and hiring manager prior to the interview. Provide any information you have on the company by email and ask the candidate to review it prior to meeting with the client.

Discuss Personal Attire

This is something critical that may seem obvious, but nothing is worse than losing a placement because they wore too much cologne or needed a larger shirt. Coach your candidate on what they should wear. Remind them to keep jewelry modest, shoes shined and to get that hair trimmed before the big day. Always remind the candidate to turn off their phone, have several clean copies of their resume with them in a clean, easy to manage folder or portfolio. They will also want paper and a pen to take notes.

Go Over the Logistics

What is the location? Do they need a map? How long will they need for the commute? What building, door, or department should they report to? How early should they arrive? Is the time zone the same at the location they will meet? (It happens, trust me on this one!) If long distance travel is involved, include review of these arrangements during this portion of your call as well.

Review the Agenda

How many interviews will take place and with whom. Are they individual interviews or panel interviews?  Does the employer use behavioral interviews or a unique process? Will there be testing? How long should they plan to be there?

Prepare the Candidate to Pre-Close Your Client

The final part of prepping a candidate is ensuring that they know how to end an interview. When the final interviewer says, "Do you have any questions?" your candidate needs to have at least three questions prepared to choose from. They can even have them written down. When this part of the interview comes, they can glance down at their notes to remind themselves. Make sure your candidate knows that only a question is a correct answer in this circumstance. They do not want to say, "No, I don't think so."

In addition, I typically ask my candidates to write "ASK FOR THE JOB!" on the second page of the tablet they bring. When the interview responds to their question and says, "Anything else?" they can turn to the second page and see this to finish the meeting. Again, this is something that may seem obvious to you, but don't take for granted that your candidate knows they should do this.

If you use this list as a guideline for every send out, your chances of impressing your clients with how well your candidate interviews will be a piece of cake. You can also add in any secrets you've found to be especially impressive to the client based on your relationship with them. I also usually remind the candidate to ask for a business card from each person they meet where appropriate so they can easily return a thank-you note after the interview. Besides impressing your client, a good prep talk is impressive to your candidate. You become the trusted advisor they turn to each time they find themselves considering a job search.

Amy McDonald works with several employment websites and is the President and CEO at REKRUTR. She has been working in the human resources and recruiting industry for over 20 years. Amy has worked with hundreds of recruitment professionals throughout her career, training best practices in sourcing candidates and refining the recruitment process. In her spare time, Amy participates as a thought leader in Recruiting for BIZCATALYST360° 

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