How to choose between candidates
Sometimes during the recruitment process you may come across two candidates who ticks all the right boxes, but you may only have one position to fill. Trying to choose between candidates who have both impressed at the interview stage, and appear suitable on paper, can be difficult. So what exactly should you be looking for when choosing between two candidates?ExperienceWhile it may appear obvious that a candidate with more experience is more employable, sometimes two applicants will have similar levels. It is worth considering which candidate will provide more in the specific scenario of your company. One candidate may be more suited to the actual demands of the role (remember - desirable doesn't necessarily mean necessary); another may have experience in areas you may look to expand into in the future. Yet, don't write off the value of bringing in someone from an outside industry for a fresh perspective.Also ask yourself if you'd prefer a safe pair of hands – someone that can do the job already, but who may potentially get bored of it quickly; or someone who maybe has a bit less experience, but is ready for the next step up into this role.Who wants it more?Following on from this, how much the candidate wants the job is an important factor. It is important to determine whether they simply need a job or if the position you are potentially offering them is their ideal role.Someone who wants to work in your field, and for you specifically, could bring you a lasting tenure, whereas somebody looking for a stopgap position is more likely to move on when something more suitable presents itself.ChemistryIt is not only a potential candidate's skill set that should be taken into account during selection, but also their softer skills. A new employee with strong interpersonal skills who easily gels with you and your team will be able to start working to the best of their abilities and operating successfully within the team more quickly than others.A candidate should be gauged on their cultural fit to the company and their fit with those they will be working with and for. Moreover, someone who is predisposed to work as an individual may not be as effective in a team that tends to work closely together. Remember – you're probably going to have to get on with them every day, so liking them is also important.ConnectionsIf choosing between two potential candidates is still proving difficult, it can be useful to look at what else they bring to the table. A candidate with a strong client base or background with already established relationships and connections that will bolster your company could help to secure contracts that you otherwise may not have won.
Key things to consider for a person specification
The first step is to advertise the role with clear and accurate information about the position available. Something that works alongside the job description is the ‘person specification'.The person specification is an important part of the recruiter’s toolbox. It allows you to communicate the traits you find desirable in an ideal candidate, such as education, previous work experience, and any extra traits that are needed to succeed in the role."Many companies rely solely on a job spec, focussing on the job and not the person. With talent more sought-after than ever, the more people-focussed businesses are doing just that - focussing on the people."Chris Adcock, Managing Director, Reed TechnologyThe five purposes of a person specification:It makes the interviewing process more refined and streamlined from the startJobseekers are able to assess themselves before applying and understand how they will fit in with the role and your business. This allows them to match themselves according to suitability and not just skillsIt clarifies the two types of personal qualifications important to the employer, essential and desirable. This enables the employer to be explicit in what they want and how the candidate matches these criteriaIt helps to communicate equal opportunities policies within the recruitment culture of a business. The law is very clear about discrimination. A person specification ensures you are assessing a candidate on their abilities related to the roleIt means you test all of your candidates against the same list of priorities set out in advance. This helps remove bias, prejudice, and personal interest, all of which can be problematic for recruiting successfullyWhat to include in a person specificationBelow are just a few examples of the types of information about candidates. It’s important to know what is and isn’t appropriate for the vacancy you’re looking to fill. For example, some roles have a legal requirement for the candidate to have a set level of training and qualifications. For specialist advice on your industry, get in contact with one of our consultants here. It can be a sensitive document if approached incorrectly, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.Attainments - e.g. qualifications, experience, positions heldSoft skills - e.g. relationship building, public speaking, time managementJob-specific capabilities - e.g. use of different software or programs, or team managementPersonality traits - e.g. proactive, patient, motivated, attention to detailPhysical attributes - e.g. height, eyesight (note - these must be a justified requisite to complete the tasks within a role, not a preference)"While the employee and the employer have similar goals, ethics and job satisfaction, the employee will continue to work hard and give loyalty."Claire Harvey, Managing Director, ReedTop tips when writingBe realistic: It's incredibly rare that any candidate will tick all the boxes. Ensure you know your must-haves from your nice-to-haves before startingIdentify existing skill-gaps: The most successful teams are those that are made up of individuals that bring something different to the department. Consider where your weak spots are and seek those out in the desired skills sectionConsider how you might assess the criteria: Can the candidate be tested or demonstrate the desired attributes in an interview situation when asked? If you can't think of an example, it may be unfair to expect them to. Check your tone of voice: It's a good idea to have one or two people read over the document to check all points are conveyed in an appropriate manner and cannot cause offense. Easing the onboarding processOnce a candidate has been chosen, the person specification makes integration and training much more organised because you will already be aware of what the candidate is able to do. For example, if your specification required someone with excellent computer skills as being essential to the role, then you would only need to give a brief induction to the computer systems of your business. It can also assist with creation of learning and development plans where they perhaps didn’t have certain desirable skills (yet)!Recruitment agencies are experts in creating person specifications. Get in touch with one of our specialists for more advice on finding the best person to help reach your business goals
The path to success in phone interviews
Covid-19 has reduced the number of face-to-face interviews. This means organisations need to use phone or video interviews to assess jobseekers. While some are continuing to use phone interviews as a method of filtering applicants, others requiring quick turnarounds are using easy-to-arrange phone interviews as the only stage in the process.Phone interviews present different experience to face-to-face and video interviews. It might seem like a relief not to have an interviewer scrutinising your appearance and body language, but it also means it can be harder for you to make a good impression on them.Below are some tips to ensuring you give the best phone interview you possibly can:Prepare like it is a face-to-face interviewRegardless of whether your interviewer is using this as a single interview or as a first interview to shortlist candidates, you should still prepare as though this is a face-to-face meeting.Find out as much as you can about the organisation who you would be working for. Research your interviewer and what they do at the company. List your key achievements and areas which demonstrate your skills.Make sure that you write down any questions you want to ask. A phone interview is an ideal time to find out more about the role you have applied for, company culture and personal development opportunities.Have your preparation to handWhen preparing for a face-to-face interview, it is important to memorise information, as consistently referring to pieces of paper does not create a flowing conversation and can count against you.In a phone interview, an interviewer cannot see you referring to your notes, so you can do this much more often than in a face-to-face setting.As part of your preparation, make a note of any important figures you can quote back to your interviewer, such as your sales figures, number of customers you have helped and other areas where you have gone above and beyond targets.Have your CV and anything else you used in your application to hand, such as a cover letter, to ensure that you can refer to what you have listed on them; your interviewer will be doing the same.However, do not fall into the trap of simply reading off a piece of paper, as this will be apparent to your interviewer. Instead, drop any information in naturally, ensuring that conversation continues to flow freely.Communicate clearly and conciselyIt is more difficult to have a naturally flowing conversation over the phone than face to face. There are actions you can take to help the conversation progress naturally.The most important element is listening hard to your interviewer. Take on board all elements of their questions, making a note of anything that seems particularly important, in case they refer back to it later.Always leave a pause when an interviewer stops speaking, just to make sure that you are not interrupting them. This pause will also give you some time to frame your answer in your mind.When answering questions, put on your best ‘telephone voice’ and speak with enthusiasm and energy. Enunciate as much as you can, not forgetting to breathe. Having a glass of water to hand will also help you.Just because there is no visual element, it does not mean you have to speak as much as possible. Well-formed, concise answers will make a far better impression than you rambling to make the same point over five minutes that you could have made in 30 seconds.Finally, before the interview begins, make sure you can take the call in a quiet area where you will not be interrupted.By following these steps, and applying face-to-face interview practice, you will make a great impression on your potential employer.If you are looking for a job, permanent or temporary, across one of our 20 specialisms, contact your local Reed office.