Professional Comment

Top Ten Tips on Interviewing and Hiring the Right Candidate

Emma Alexander, Tylney Hall’s Personnel & Development Manager, offers her Top Ten Tips on how companies can not only deliver a successful interview but can also hire the right candidate…

Much is written about what it is like to be interviewed. What is it like, however, from the other side of the fence – that is, from the interviewer’s perspective? Emma Alexander, a seasoned human resources practitioner who spent eight years with Hilton, and who now heads up Elite Hotels’ Personnel & Development Department at Tylney Hall Hotel, near Hook, in Hampshire, is fully aware of the challenges faced by interviewers today – that is, she and her peers.

The industry continues to be competitive and, although Elite Hotels offers an excellent overall remuneration and benefits package, the existing external factors – including an acute labour shortage and competition from other industries able to offer more desirable working hours – are proving to be an additional challenge when trying to attract the right calibre of employee.

Emma says: “Today it’s very much an employee’s market; job vacancies are at record levels, the likes of which haven’t been witnessed for a long time. Would-be employees are conscious that the pendulum is swinging in their favour, so the interview experience is of vital importance in deciding whether or not the candidate is happy to consider joining your organisation or not.”

Emma is very aware that interviewing skills are now playing a more significant role than ever before when seeking to find that elusive right candidate. To help others in similar situations, she has put together a list of handy tips on how best to conduct a successful interview that will help the interviewer not only to find, but also to secure, the right person for the job in question.

1. Success is in the Advert
Not enough organisations put the required thought into their advertisements, but the ad itself is the key driver that can either attract – or deter – the right candidate. Think of it as your shop window; it really needs to stand out from the crowd. Make sure it’s relevant to the job you’re advertising – include not only the hours, the salary scale and working patterns, but also the hugely important element – your organisation’s culture.

2. Break the Ice
Many candidates find the interviewing process daunting. A good idea is to call them before meeting them; this allows you to get a feel for their communication style, and is also a good opportunity to sell the team in which they will be working – and the wider business, too – before they even come through the door. It also helps to put candidates at ease, ready for what may be a daunting experience for them.

3. Question Time
Make sure you are prepared and have a list of relevant questions to ask – not just the run-of-the-mill interview questions. You need to come across as both knowledgeable and confident, as well as genuinely interested in your interviewee.

4. Be Answer Ready
Be ready and eager to answer their questions; you are the hotel’s ambassador, so make sure that you know all about both the department in which the interviewee will be working and also are thoroughly briefed on the overall business. *Some 47% of interviewers say they wouldn’t choose a candidate who had little knowledge of their company. What if YOU couldn’t answer a candidate’s question about your company…?

5. Your Personal Appearance/Presentation
Your own appearance sets a standard. If you’re not presenting a smart image, you can’t expect the candidate to follow suit. This is particularly important for junior candidates, who are looking up to senior management for direction and guidance.

That said, appearance and dress shouldn’t be a barrier to attracting the right candidates – you certainly don’t want prospective employees to be put off, or to feel intimidated. The best strategy is to be clear up front about the dress code required for the interview. *A massive 71% of interviewers will not select a candidate who isn’t appropriately dressed.

6. Read Your Audience on Arrival
To help a candidate to get through the interview as well as they possibly can, make sure that you read their body language. Are they nervous? If so, try to put them at ease; some small talk works wonders, and you’ll get much more out of your candidate if they feel comfortable in your company.

*Lack of confidence during an interview is why 40% of interviewers don’t take a candidate past the first interview stage. By helping the candidate to relax, you could well help bring down that percentage – both to your/your company’s advantage, and to the advantage of the interviewee.

7. Interview Setting

Where you interview the candidate plays an important role in their performance. For junior candidates, try to create an informal ambience, as this will help them to relax and will get the meeting off to a good start.

8. Encourage and Engage
Interviews are not about putting candidates on the spot unnecessarily. Aim to encourage and motivate them with positive affirmations. A smile goes a very long way! *Having a positive interview experience makes candidates 38% more likely to accept a job offer.

9. What’s in the Job Description?
Make sure that the job description is clearly set out, so that the candidate understands exactly what they are potentially signing up to. This is a good opportunity to let them know that your company can help to develop their skills, that you offer training, and that career prospects are good.

10. Will Versus Skill

Attitude is an important factor when it comes to a candidate’s work ethic; although they may possess the right skill set, they might not have the right attitude. Try to ascertain if they have the will to succeed, and whether they have the right attitude for the hospitality industry; it could well make the difference between employing the right – or the wrong – candidate. Skills can be taught – but having a positive attitude, and also the will to succeed, is the very best starting point.

*The average interview-to-offer rate is 42.1%
*What To Become is a useful website that offers educational information and career advice.