Jumping through hoops

Interview selection processes involving assessment centres and panel interviews are designed to show that candidates can cope under pressure and successfully juggle multiple demands
Interview selection processes involving assessment centres and panel interviews are designed to show that candidates can cope under pressure and successfully juggle multiple demands

Thankfully, employers are beginning to feel more confident on the recruitment front and are seeking out enthusiastic new candidates. However, they’re certainly not afraid to take their time in order to find the perfect person for a new role. Barry Whelan outlines how to ensure you impress throughout a rigorous interview process



17 October 2013

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We have had a really strong summer this year as many companies feel more confident about adding numbers and recruiting personnel, leading to more jobs registered and ultimately more candidate placements. This is all very positive; we have had the highest number of new roles registered in five years. However, one trend I have noticed is that employers are looking for a lot from candidates in the interview process, with many asking candidates to jump through hoops!

Any interview can be stressful, nerve-wracking and exciting at the same time, but especially if you find yourself heading into the unfamiliar territory of a panel interview, meeting several recruiting managers at the same time or sitting with six or even 12 other candidates in an interview room about to undergo an assessment centre. As we are finding more and more of the time, these scenarios can bring even the most confident candidate out in a sweat with butterflies in their stomach.

Here are some less common types of interviews you might encounter and a few tips for acing each one:

The group interview or assessment centre

What: I am not sure which came first, assessment centres or ‘The Apprentice’! Either way, this is ‘Apprentice’ style interviewing. Here a group of employment candidates all try to impress a few people from the recruiting company at the same time; taking them through a number of tasks which include a group debate, role play and presentation.

Why: The employer saves time, and they get to see candidates under pressure and acting out various scenarios. It is a very robust way of interviewing. You need to find a way to stand out and demonstrate that you know how to be a good team player.

Tips: Pretend that you are surrounded by new co-workers instead of the competition; then act accordingly. Don’t interrupt other candidates, and roll with it if someone interrupts you.
Prepare multiple answers to common interview questions, so if you’re the third person to answer the same question, you’ll have something fresh to say.

You may be asked to complete small group projects during the interview. If that’s the case, focus on showing off your team skills instead of pushing the group to choose your ideas. Employers are looking for people who know how to collaborate.

The panel interview

What: You are interviewed by a panel of three or more senior managers from the company that’s recruiting and they’re all asking you questions.

Why: The company wants ‘buy-in’ from all the recruiting managers and they want candidates to work through the interview process. They want to see how you handle a high-pressure situation and if you can quickly fit in with the company leaders and culture.

Tips: This kind of interview can feel especially intimidating, but there’s an easy way to give yourself a head start: Ask who you’ll be meeting with when the company schedules the interview.

Then research each person through professional social networks or the company website, so you can tailor your answers to whoever asks a question. The finance manager, for instance, probably has different priorities than the sales manager. Adjust to your audience.

Once you’re in the room, pay equal attention to the entire panel. Make eye contact with everyone as you talk, giving a little more focus to the individual who posed the question. Address each person by name and don’t be afraid to ask questions. It’s a good way to engage the whole panel and turn the interview from questions and answers to a conversation.

The third, fourth or seventh interview

What: A tough job market means employers are taking their time in finding the perfect candidate, and many are stretching the selection process to five, six or even seven interviews.

Why: The process can be draining; it shows candidates are really enthusiastic about a role and a company if they are in for the long stretch.

Tips: You need to maintain your optimism, enthusiasm and professionalism for every meeting. You need to be fresh for each encounter and whilst you will no doubt become an expert interviewee, you need to bring something new to the table each time and not become a tired, repetitive candidate.

If you are worried about being given the run-around in the recruitment process, then why not ask the potential employer what the recruitment process is. This way you will know exactly where you stand as you go.



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