Are the candidates poor or am I a bad interviewer?

Employer X has been trying to fill job role Y for two years now, with a handful of new starters lasting only a few months each before moving on. The first couple of leavers were put down to ‘not being quite right’ or ‘having a tough act to follow’, while the final few were blamed on ‘a poor talent pool’. It’s a classic problem.

This cycle of poor hire after poor hire will continue indefinitely until the employer stops and confronts the reason why all of these seemingly talented, employable people didn’t work out. It may be that the applicants aren’t of the requisite quality, or that the person who originally vacated the role was just too good. It may even be that the job role itself needs to change - maybe split in two or more focused to ensure that it’s actually manageable for the new recruit.

The other, lesser explored reason is that the employer just isn’t that good at interviewing. It’s human nature to pass blame onto others when problems arise, however at some stage self-protectionism needs to make way for reflection.

Interviewing is a difficult skill, and most employers go into the process with zero training. While it’s true that some people are naturally good interviewers, for most of us, training and a knowledge of the basics are necessary to ensure that the hire works out well.

If your company has found itself in the cycle of unsuccessful hiring, it can be difficult to find the way out. However, there are a few easy steps you can take to ensure that your next hire has a much better chance of succeeding.

Get some training The easiest solution is basic interview training. You’ll be amazed how many useful tips you can pick up in one short session. If you’re responsible for bringing new people into the business, you’re probably being judged on the success (or failure) of new starters - so it’s in your best interest to seek out the necessary training. If necessary, remind your manager that the cost of a training session is tiny in comparison to the money lost on an unsuccessful hire.

Ignore their nerves

It’s a strange phenomenon, but many interviewers seem to immediately forget what it was like to be on the other side of the desk. Being interviewed is a nerve-racking experience, and its easy for the jitters to get the better of even the most perfect candidate. The person who invariably has the best experience but the most nerves finishes second, while someone with an inch-perfect interview technique but a so-so CV comes up trumps. Think long-term and judge each candidate on their collective merits, not merely their interview skills.

Get your job description nailed

Before you go full-pelt to bring the sixth replacement in, take a minute to review the role you’re trying to fill. Are you asking too much? Would you want to apply for that role? Does a person with such a wide and varied skill set exist - and if they do, will they accept the salary you’re offering? Setting realistic expectations for candidates will help you to find the perfect person.

The POST team love to help people improve their interview technique. If you or your team require a helping hand, get in touch with us at:

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