Learning Hub

The Interview - Impress to be Impressed

To fully understand a candidate, the interview continues to be the most popular selection method. There is extensive research on the best interview structure – some organisations prefer the more conversational approach, using it learn about the applicant’s personality and motivations, whilst others use a more formal approach with all candidates being asked the same questions in an effort to ascertain as much as possible about their relevant knowledge and capabilities. 

Regardless of the structure of the interview, the goal is the same – hire the best-in-class. A common perception is that the purpose of the interview is to assess candidates’ fit and, to score the dream job, applicants need to adapt; they are required to detect what the interviewer is interested in and use this to modify their interviewing strategy to get ahead.

However, in a candidate-led market the big question after an interview is not only whether the employer wants to make an offer, but whether the candidate wants the job. It’s in more recent years that the candidate experience during an interview has been a subject of scientific research and terms such as ‘Impression Management’ (the conscious or subconscious effort to influence the perceptions of others by regulating and controlling information) have been studied in relation to the interviewer behavior. 

An article published in the Journal of Applied Psychology argues that Impression Management is interviewers’ deliberate attempt to create a certain impact on candidates and this is a key factor to attracting the best talent. Results show that particular interviewer behaviors and characteristics strongly influence recruiting outcomes, such as perceived interviewer personableness, competence, informativeness, trustworthiness, warmth, humor, and job knowledge. 

These behaviors have been subsequently linked to both job attractiveness and apparent authenticity of the employer and the organisation. This supposedly subsequently leads to faster recruiting, strong reputation and, not only attracting, but also retaining the ‘crème de la crème’ candidates. As such, next time you are playing the role of the interviewer, think about the experience of the person on the other side of the table and how you might improve it – choose the right interviewing room, demonstrate knowledge of the candidate and the job, be passionate about the opportunity and ensure timely feedback. Impress to be impressed