Interviewing tips for bosses: how to spot the high-flyers

Candidates can give you the talk, but how can you tell if they can walk the walk? Here are my top five interviewing tips:

1. Throw your typical interviewing style out the window

Every half-decent candidate should have prepared answers to “What are your weaknesses” and “Where would you like to be in ten years’ time?” If you want to really test them though, do something different. Take them for a round of golf and assess if they can multi-task – can they speak, think and play at once? Do they take risky hole-in-one strategies or go for the shorter shots? Nothing shows candidates’ true colours than a competitive situation. 

2. Have they done their research?

Sounds simple, right? You’d be surprised how often quality research is overlooked. A cursory glance over your website will allow grads to regurgitate top line information, but look for evidence they have delved deeper and wider within the industry to truly understand your business culture and what makes it tick. Ask why they find your business interesting, and then why a competitor would be interesting – you’ll easily spot who has come prepared and who hasn’t. 

3. The pub test

When you’re interviewing a candidate, don’t be tempted to moderate your personal assessment of the grad’s social skills. Ask yourself, would I enjoy going for a drink with this person? If you don’t find them interesting, then you can bet your customers won’t. Making allowances because they are young, or inexperienced stores up issues for the future. Either they are a functioning human being or they are not, and no amount of training can change that. 

4. The Foxtrot Oscar bonus

Offer new starters a financial incentive to leave. It sounds counter-intuitive and probably even a bit crazy, but it means you will be left with passionate staff who genuinely want to work for you. Any grad more tempted to take the money and run is not going to be worth your investment over the coming months to make them a fully-fledged professional. 

5. What are they wearing?

First impressions are everything. If a candidate can’t make the effort to impress you, how do you expect them to represent your business in front of clients? If they turn up looking like a student, they’re clearly not ready for the world of work. Candidates who haven’t had a shave, cleaned their shoes or put on a suit don’t take themselves seriously, and you shouldn’t take them seriously either.

Dominic Monkhouse is the managing director of server-hosting firm PEER 1

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