Interviews & First Impressions: A Two Way Street

Sometimes, first interviews don’t go to plan. As recruiters, you like to think that a well-prepared candidate with a great CV will meet with an interviewer, have an honest discussion about what they can do for the company and what the company can do for them, and then both parties can walk away and decide if it’s a good fit.

That doesn’t always happen. Sometimes a rockstar candidate will look at a job opening that sounds perfect on paper – only to head to the interview and find they’re entirely unimpressed. Candidates should do everything they can to win over an interviewer, but hiring organisations need to remember that we’re in a candidate-led market and it’s just as important that they make a good impression on their potential next hire. The more skilled and experienced a candidate is, the more in demand they’ll be, and clients need to make sure what they’re offering is a cut above their competitors.

What factors do you need to think about when making sure that your organisation is offering the best possible interview experience?

  • When the candidate enters the building, what’s the first thing they’re seeing? Who’s greeting them? How can you make that absolute first impression warm and welcoming?
  • Don’t leave them waiting too long. Be realistic about your other commitments when scheduling interviews – if there’s even a chance that your big 9am meeting might run till 11.30, don’t arrange an interview before noon. You expect candidates to be on time, show them the same courtesy. You hear occasional horror stories from the early 2000s of interviewers intentionally leaving candidates to wait for as long as possible as a power play – that kind of tactic definitely won’t fly in the current market.
  • Be conversational, responsive, gain all the information you require and let the candidate know everything you can tell them. Interviewers often want to appear imposing and impressive in these situations but candidates are much more likely to want to work for someone they both like and respect.
  • It’s a cliché for a reason: sell the dream. Tell them absolutely everything wonderful about the business but don’t get carried away. Tell them a realistic OTE, tell them realistic growth and progression plans. Have this information prepared, be ready for any question a candidate could possibly have about the business.
  • Don’t wait too long to give feedback.  From when you see the CV to when you are ready to make an offer. I’ve dealt with companies that have left it a month before giving feedback on a CV and then are shocked to learn the candidate is no longer available or no longer interested. How you handle the feedback process is part of the impression a candidate gets about how your company operates, so, make it as swift and smooth as possible.
  • Finally, if you’ve made the offer and they’ve accepted – don’t stop there. Keep in touch with them through their notice periods, and ensure that their official start at the company is as carefully managed as their interviews.
  • Between a company trying to impress their staff and staff trying to impress their employers, I’m pretty sure the chances of success improve dramatically and the whole system works better for everyone.

You probably think some or all of those are very obvious and can say with confidence that your organisation already operates like this, but sometimes mistakes are made and attention to detail in the recruitment process can get lost, especially in larger businesses.  With just a few simple changes you can greatly improve your chance of attracting and retaining the best possible talent and quickly build a reputation as not just a successful company but also a great employer.

If you need any superstars in the Governance, Risk and Compliance space either on an Interim or Permanent basis, we’d be more than happy to help, contact me on or call 121 643 2100.

Get in touch