Never end a conversation without giving your counterpart the opportunity to remember the conversation with gratitude.
In the 17th century, the famous German “etiquette guru”, Adolph Freiherr von Knigge, coined the phrase: “Never end a conversation without giving your counterpart the opportunity to remember the conversation with gratitude”. Right potentials usually decide during an interview, whether they want to pursue an offer. Remember, they are highly sought-after and you are probably not the only one to invite them to a job interview.
Members of the Human Resources management (HRM), in particular the recruiters, are increasingly confronted with competition situations regarding their interviewing skills. The race for professional excellence, highly qualified niche skills and experts is becoming more and more competitive. A highly volatile market is not interested in the job situation of individual economies. Highly qualified experts and executives are usually independent, they are globally oriented and they know exactly what their career opportunities are.
In addition, the demographic development in European societies contributes to the fact that young and mature talents will be sought-after much more intensely.
What is the point in a company offering good employee benefits, excellent work opportunities, clear structures, flat hierarchies, great opportunities for career advancement, attractive benefits or interesting add-ons, if the first, yet decisive, personal contact ruins everything?
The interview must never be poorly prepared! A clear structure is imperative. External disturbing factors ruin important, psychological moments and the conversation usually turns out confusing. The competition always wins if the best moments of a meeting are wantonly jeopardized. The competitive pressure surrounding right potentials is increasing. More and more, catchy words like ‘attract’, ‘select’, or ‘retain’ shape the daily routines of personnel search, personnel screening, personnel selection and the ever more important personnel fostering.
How should the interview be prepared?
In many companies, job interviews are conducted without any structure, they are left to chance and do not have any inner balance. An important opportunity gets lost. Well educated applicants will notice right away if the interview was prepared in a professional manner, if it is tactically structured, if the recruiters know all the facts, if they take notes and ask questions that keep the applicants from falling asleep and causes them to take the interview as a serious challenge.
The interview should be structured as follows:
Opening-up of conversation
A comfortable ambiance is important. Relaxed people reveal more of themselves and appear more authentic if a harmonic conversation is not unnecessarily tarnished by exogenous disruptive factors like ringing telephones, blinding sun light, uncomfortable seating, untidiness, etc. The emotional echo is important to get to the dry facts more quickly. Natural friendliness, emotional warmth and genuine interest are good premises for a successful interview. The influence of the so-called intrinsic motivation, i.e. the motivation that comes from inside an individual, on recruiting processes cannot be underestimated.
Applicants will respond with openness if they are not fobbed off with an uncaring, derogatory routine. It is very unfortunate when the game is already over before it has even begun!
It is important to have sufficient time for the orientation. A correct introduction and explanation of the procedure is essential. It is imperative to assure confidentiality with regards to the conversation content and to maintain strict discretion. Applicants will appreciate that. It gives them reassurance and it will strengthen their good impression of the counterpart
The following motives for applying should be discussed:
- Why do you as company and employer appeal to the applicant?
- What additional information is required to ensure the applicant is thoroughly informed?
- Why is the applicant interested in the position?
- Previous achievements.
- Is there anything important the applicant would like to add to his or her resume?
The orientation phase allows both parties to warm up for the following thorough questioning.
The thorough preparation of a structured interview outline will come in handy during the very important questioning part of the interview. The requirement-related questions will provide essential information to determine whether the applicant is suitable for the position or not (also refer to menu item ‘Structured Interview’). A loss of concentration can be prevented by making sure that the interviewed person is comfortable and the room is sufficiently ventilated, and by providing refreshments like coffee, tea or water. Applicants reveal a lot of themselves. A job interview is never just routine for them, but the serious effort to find new employment.
A nice, personal remark by the interviewing person eases the tension and calms the nerves.
Applicants are allowed to ask questions. They often have reservations and do not want to take up any more time. The rather diagnostic part of the interview is now completed. The focus should now be on the equally important ‘technical’ part:
- What are the terms of notice?
- Provide sufficient information on the position to be filled.
- Salary requirements.
- Information on the contract terms like vacation time, working hours, parking, etc.
- Clearly-defined agreement regarding the further proceedings.
- Possibly information on an assessment or potential analysis.
- Inquire regarding references.
If the positive mood was maintained until the end, no questions were left unanswered and all thirst for information could be quenched, chances for further meetings are very high.
Competent recruiting processes and the execution of professional, structured interviews are important pivotal points that determine whether the so-called ‘right potentials’ decide in favor of or against a company. Many companies strive for professional excellence. A lack of time for the serious preparation and solid execution can quickly turn the striving into a struggle. The risk of hiring the wrong person takes shape. By no means should the first impression be the last.