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Don’t let first impressions be the last…

July 07, 2015

“They kept me waiting there for an hour, barely apologised and then the interview was about 20 minutes long.  I had to chase for feedback for about 3 weeks and eventually gave up”

This was a story recounted to me and 11 other bright twenty-somethings at a dinner party by a friend who’d just had an interview at a major retailer. But the interview didn’t just end badly for my friend - these 11 smart people, a mixture of management consultants, analysts, data scientists, and lawyers (all from top 5 universities), will now probably never apply for a job with this company.

So, first impressions really do count. The interview experience for candidates is crucial exposure for your brand, as people applying to consumer companies are also customers themselves - along with their family and friends. So it’s actually so much more than an interview… it’s a valuable interaction with your consumer base, and a great opportunity to strengthen the reputation of your brand.

For the retailer in question, they’ve lost a potential brand-champion, and have instead become dinner party ammunition.

Most people wouldn’t dream of messing candidates about, but the traps are easier to fall in to than you’d think. Here are our tips for a positive interview process…

  • Stick to your schedule - Last-minute rearrangements and cancellations are very occasionally an unfortunate necessity, but it should really be a last resort. It’s difficult for people to get out of work for an interview with their integrity intact, especially junior candidates with less control over their diaries and ever watchful bosses.

  • Test brainpower and personality, not resilience to rudeness -  An intellectually challenging interview is the best kind of interview. It raises a candidate’s opinion of the company, meaning they’ll be more likely to accept an offer or feel better about rejection. But being deliberately rude or indifferent to test the candidate can be damaging - terrible for your company brand and personal brand (it’s a small world, after all). Politeness goes a long way!

  • Keep it succinct - rounds of interviews are often unnecessary, and candidates may become resentful if they have to jump through too many hoops. Using up a ¼ of annual holiday to chase an opportunity that then doesn’t materialize isn’t great either. You will gain better and more willing candidates by sticking to a more efficient timescale, and save valuable hours in the day for the employees involved in the interview process.

  • Give feedback - If someone wants to work for you, it’s quite a compliment, as they must have spent time and money to come to interview with you. They’re also really putting themselves out there, so if they’re unsuccessful, a couple of lines of explanation can go a long way. It’s unbelievably helpful for them in their future job search. Plus it could do wonders dampening those feelings of resentment towards your brand as opposed to a frosty rejection.

  • Stick to deadlines for decisions – “Just one extra round of interviews… we’ll let you know by next week, sorry next week…” Constantly moving goalposts are a nightmare. Candidates should know what the process is, when they will hear by, and irrespective of success, should be told as soon as possible. People don’t like to feel strung along or messed about.

A constructive interview process can be a powerful tool in optimising positive brand exposure for your company. A fast, efficient, open procedure, with detailed feedback and courteous treatment can leave a really good impression with even unsuccessful candidates, and can be a fantastic way to attract future talent to your organisation.

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