Column: The Midwest Report – How to Enhance Communication in the Interview
By Dan Scott
The “interview” represents the first get-to-know-each-other period for applicants and businesses that are hiring. It gives employers the ability to see whether candidates’ descriptions on paper match what they portray in person. The interview serves the same function for candidates as well, providing a sneak peek into a company’s day-to-day operations. However, when these initial conversations don’t go as planned, both candidates and employers point to the same issue as the primary cause: poor communication.
That’s according to recent data revealed in the 2018 Performance Management Study. When employers were asked to identify the biggest shortcomings among candidates they’d interviewed, a lack of communication skills (41 percent) was the most commonly cited response.
Interestingly, when candidates were asked a similar question—What are the greatest gaps or shortcomings of companies where you’ve interviewed most recently?—they too cited bad communication, particularly after final interviews, as the biggest problem of all, referenced by 36 percent of the individuals polled.
Ultimately, strong communication is extremely important in the interview process.
Here are a few suggestions for ensuring communication doesn’t break down and that both parties walk away fully understanding one another:
Candidates: The résumé may provide a general idea of what you bring to the table, but it’s really just an overview. When asked to elaborate on certain aspects of your résumé, be prepared to expand on what you listed without embellishing. Twenty-eight percent of employers in the survey cited lying about credentials as an issue when interviewing candidates. In a separate poll conducted by CareerBuilder, 75 percent of human resource professionals said they’d caught job seekers in lies before.
Employers: Candidates come to the interview wanting to better understand the company beyond what they’ve independently researched. They’re less than pleased when the question-and-answer session ends with as much information as when they came in. Ensure that the role they’re seeking matches what was in the job description. Nineteen percent of candidates in the survey pointed to discrepancies in the scope and duties of the given role as a big interview turnoff.
Show evidence of having done your research
Candidates: Although you’ll likely be receiving the bulk of the questions, you may be asked if you have any inquiries. Pose some that show you’ve done your homework, such as those that relate to the company’s strategy in its early days, asking how that compares with the goals the business has in the short- and long-term. Being naturally inquisitive about the direction of the company demonstrates a strong sense of engagement and interest in the role.
Employers: Job seekers devote time, money and energy into establishing their credentials, whether newly out of college or with several years under their belts. Their dedication deserves recognition. Come to the interview having looked over their resume. You may not need to know their education verbatim, but asking questions that probe certain aspects of their credentials can show genuine interest in their experience and serves as positive affirmation that they are being considered for the role.
Stay in touch afterwards
Candidates: Sending a thank you note is not only courteous, but it shows that you’re highly interested in the job for which you’ve interviewed. Enthusiasm is a crucial component of landing a position. Thirty-seven percent of employers in the poll referenced lack of enthusiasm about the job as one of the top shortcomings among job seekers they’d evaluated.
Employers: Not knowing whether they got the job can be unnerving for candidates, especially when they feel like the interview went well. It’s also disrespectful of the time and effort the applicant has invested. Try to keep them in the loop even if you don’t extend an offer. Approximately 1 in 3 candidates in the poll cited little to no communication after the interview as their biggest frustration.
Every interview can’t end in a job offer, but no good can come of the process when communication falls apart. It can also leave a bad impression of your organization that can be shared in the market place. Adhering to the above best practices can help ensure candidates and employers are on the same page, and have all the information needed to make the decisions that are best for them.