The good the bad and the complacent - Article by Colin Orr

The good the bad and the complacent

Having been in recruitment for almost 6 years now I have made a huge number of calls to prepare candidates for interviews. This has enabled me to be at the point where I am quite confident about which candidate is likely to get the role before they even go into interview, though of course I’m not right all the time! More and more, decisions are being based on how much energy and effort has been put in to researching and preparing for what is essentially a life changing hour or two ahead.

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Of course previous experience, a proven track record and core competencies play a large role on the decision making, however, increasingly the amount of research and understanding of the business, the role and going the extra mile to show dedication to the interview and future career development is making the decision swing the way of the well prepared.

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Let me talk you through a few scenarios right now that link up to the title, one good, one bad and one complacent.

The Good –  I was working with a candidate who on paper wasn’t quite right for the job they were going for. They had good experience and so much drive to improve but were lacking in certain areas. I spoke to them as usual about researching the business and thinking about anything additional they could do to give them the edge or show that they have the knowledge to do the role but they had just never had the chance or exposure. To prepare, the candidate completed a full assessment of their skills in relation to the role, identified their own development areas and wrote down, step by step, how they were going to overcome them in the role and in the time frames given. In addition to this they had popped into the business prior to attending the interview to speak to some employees about what it was like to work there and to understand some of the challenges the business faced. They put a proposal on how to overcome some things which they could have a direct impact on in their role. This candidate beat 3 other candidates to the job offer, all of which had more experience in more relevant areas but didn’t come in to the interview and demonstrate how they would do things nearly as well as this candidate.

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The Bad – I was working on a retained vacancy where the client had gone through the role and company in huge detail with me whilst also giving me some really good tips for candidates. Again, I talked through preparing for the interview with the candidate though they did not want any advice on the business, the people they were meeting or how to approach the interview. Instead, they were confident in the preparation they had done before and stated they would get all the information they needed from their own research prior to the interview. This candidate didn’t research the company, didn’t understand the job profile (feedback from the client) and needless to say, didn’t get the job.

Side note, if you are offered free inside information, I would always recommend you take it, whilst us recruiters sometimes get bad press we do work closely with our clients to understand their requirements.

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The Complacent – This particular candidate was actually one of the candidates from “the good” story who didn’t end up getting the job. On paper this candidate had everything; had worked for a direct competitor, had done the role before to a high standard and was inside the salary bracket (I have to admit, this was one occasion where I predicted the wrong outcome). I had a good conversation about what to prepare for interview and in fairness, the candidate did do some work to help his interview by looking at the website to get a better understanding of the company and relying on competitor knowledge of them. The problem was though that this was just the basics because he thought his knowledge and experience would give him the edge he needed. Reviewing the company website is obviously an advisable thing to do, however there is so much information at our fingertips now that it isn’t enough just to do that.

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So there we go, no matter how good you are, what your initial knowledge is or how aligned to the role you might be, research, effort and good preparation can be the deciding factor when it comes down to it.

I might not be telling you anything you don’t already know but I often think, what is the point of a blog? My answer to myself is usually “to spark a conversation, challenge the norm or create debate”, however in this case, I would say “a gentle reminder of getting the basics right”. After all, it is so important to prepare well for your interview as it can genuinely be the start of something incredible from a career and even life perspective if it goes to plan.

I really hate a cliché but I’m going to end with one. It’s as simple as this; fail to prepare is preparing to fail and if you don’t do the leg work to give yourself the best chance of getting the job, you can bet your competition is!

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Get the basics right, research the business, show passion, go above and beyond your normal preparation routine and you will be so much closer to landing that role you want!

Colin Orr covers the Scottish and North East Regions - but also helps with the West Midlands (so you could say he is one of our busier HR Recruitment Consultants)

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