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There is an eclectic range of interview questions that you can ask your candidates – the question is: which shouldn’t you ask?

Your interview questions should be specific to the role, and the value that the candidate can bring to the role. You should only ask them personal questions if the job role demands it – other than that, you should steer clear of them completely.


In an interview, the last thing you want to do is give the candidate the impression that you are discriminating against them – or, that you are assessing them using meaningless details.

If word gets around that your Company discriminates during interviews – your reputation will take a serious hit. This could mean that you receive lower quality applicants, and you have access to a much smaller talent pool. In other words – if you are known to discriminate, your recruitment goals will be much harder to achieve.


There are certain questions that you should, generally, avoid:

  1. “How old are you?”

Are you familiar with the phrase: “you should never ask a woman her age”? Well, this applies when you’re interviewing candidates. That’s not to say that this only applies to your female candidates – it doesn’t. This rule applies generally, to all of your candidates.

Why? First of all, they may get offended by you asking them such a personal question. Second of all, it doesn’t really matter! Their age will not take away from how suitable they are to the role – it shouldn’t even cross your mind. You don’t want them to get the impression that this is important to their application – this reflects negatively on your employer brand.

  1. “How far do you have to travel to work?”

Many interviewers feel as though this question is perfectly acceptable to ask. And, in some cases, asking a slight variation can be fine – “are you able to start work at 9am, and finish at 5pm?”, for example.

However, it could give the candidate the impression that it will come into consideration with their application. You don’t want them to feel as though their commute will impact their application negatively, and that the person closest to the office is more likely to be offered the job.

  1. “Where are you from?”

There’s no subtle way of asking this question – it just comes across as rude. Their nationality should not have any bearing on their application, so you don’t need to know it.

However, you are allowed to ask if they’re legally authorised to work in the UK – because, for legal reasons, you need to know this. However, their exact nationality isn’t important.

Asking this question could get you into a lot of trouble. Imagine: you ask a candidate where they’re from, then they don’t get the job. What are they going to think? Whatever it is – it won’t be good for your reputation.

  1. “Are you married?”

This is an extremely personal question, and should be avoided at all costs. First of all, the candidate may interpret this question as your subtle way of asking about their sexual orientation – another question which should never be asked. This can make the candidate feel awkward, and give the wrong impression of your company culture.

Second of all, the candidate may feel as though you’re trying to… you know… hit on them. Which, of course, is extremely unprofessional. To maintain a professional exterior, and the impression that you are a fair company – don’t do it.

  1. “Do you have/do you intend to have children?”

Under no circumstances should you ask a candidate if they have children, or if they plan to have children in the future. Asking this question can give the candidate the impression that it will impact their application negatively – that you discriminate against individuals with children.

How? First of all, they may think that you, as the employer, will assume they will need to work fewer hours because of their children. Second of all, they may get the impression that you won’t hire them because they’ll be taking maternity/paternity leave at some point in the future. Both of which will severely impact your employer brand and reputation.


Above are just 5 of the questions that you shouldn’t ask your candidates – there are plenty more. Before you even post the job advert, you should have a clear set of questions that you’ll ask the successful candidates – which have been signed off by a number of different people.

Put yourself in their shoes – what would you think, if you were asked one of the above questions?

 

We’d love to hear about any interview questions you’ve been asked, that you felt were completely unnecessary. Comment below!

 

7 Steps to the best Recruitment Campaign ever

 

What methods allow me to asses a Graduate the best?

What methods allow me to assess a Graduate the best?

 

“4 out of 5 hiring managers would not go back to telephone interviewing having video interviewed candidates”

David Dewey, Shortlister

 

The above is one of the stand-out figures from a survey conducted by Shortlister – one of the UK’s leading video interviewing platforms.


Video interviewing is becoming the adopted screening and assessment method for HR teams across the UK. But, why does it work so well for Graduate Recruitment?

We asked Debbie Edmondson, Talent Director at Cohesion, to share her views on typical Graduate Recruitment Processes:

  • Online application form

This tends to be the first step in most Graduate Recruitment Processes. However, we know that candidates do not like to fill them out! In recent years, the Graduate market has become more candidate-driven. So, companies have had to adapt their online forms to make them shorter and simpler to use – so as not to dissuade a candidate from applying.

With the developments in technology, we’ve also seen a huge increase in candidates accessing and completing online forms via their smart phones, rather than via a laptop/PC. This has meant employers have had to update their systems to accommodate this, and adapt their forms to gather information in alternative ways.

Regardless of how simple your initial online application process is though, it cannot be used in isolation to assess a candidate – all you are ultimately doing is assessing how well they can fill out a form.

  • Telephone Interviewing

This is one of the most common assessment methods for any Graduate Programme. The ability to ask competency questions and assess a candidates motivation for the role, are just two of the reasons why it’s used by so many. The benefits of telephone interviewing allow you to decide, not just if they’ll be suitable for the job, but if they’ll fit in with your company community.

One of the biggest advantages of telephone interviewing is that it allows you to probe the candidate, and ask for further elaboration on questions. This adds value by allowing you to explore the candidates’ answers in more depth.

With this method, it’s a question of whether or not the benefits justify the use of the resource. Telephone interviewing doesn’t allow you to assess the candidates’ personality, presence or body language. They tend to be time-consuming and, often, candidates’ availability to conduct a telephone interview doesn’t match with your recruitment team’s availability.

  • Psychometric Testing

Psychometric testing supports other recruitment processes by allowing you to assess a candidates’ competence in a particular skill – typically verbal reasoning or numerical ability. These tend to feature timed tests, and results are assessed against a ‘norm group’ made up of people matching a similar profile.

For a specialised or technical role, e.g. finance based, psychometric testing proves a level of competence required and therefore supports the recruitment process. However, many companies are now questioning their relevance, and long-term prediction of performance.

Organisations are also now seeing the benefits of opening up their recruitment criteria to a wider pool of candidates, understanding that social mobility factors which have previously excluded some candidates from applying for roles, means they are perhaps missing out on good talent.

  • Gamification

Gamification is one of the more fun, interactive methods of assessing your Graduates – it uses game theory, mechanics and decision in non-gaming environments and situations. This is why it can be used for recruitment purposes. Gamification, unlike any of the other methods we’ve explored, seeks to explore the personality of the candidate in more depth – it can be used as an alternative to Situational Judgement Tests, or Personality Questionnaires.

One of the main advantages of incorporating Gamification into your recruitment process, is that it allows you to assess your Graduates without them needing to complete a lengthy questionnaire. Essentially, the game that the candidate plays is the test – there are multiple points during the game, at which you collect data on the personality traits of the candidate – based upon the decisions that they make in the game. This can exhibit traits, such as resilience, risk propensity and innovation potential.

Gamification is not a method that can be used on its own – ideally, it’s used in conjunction with other methods. This is because, on its own, you can only assess the candidates’ personality – as opposed to their suitability to the job, your organisation or their strengths, for example.

  • Video Interviewing

In my opinion, this is one of the most effective and efficient methods for assessing your Graduates. Like the telephone interview, it allows you to gauge competence and motivation, but also allows you to see their gravitas and enthusiasm demonstrated for your company.

One of the main advantages of this method is that you can judge candidates on their visible confidence and their non-verbal communications – as well as the above. This can be advantageous – it allows you to judge their mannerisms and how they physically conduct themselves, rather than just their telephone etiquette.  You can see how well they think on their feet and react to pressure – things you can’t always get from a telephone interview.

The flexibility of the solution allows candidates to complete the video at a time that suits them, and requires less resource from your recruiting teams than telephone interviewing. You really get a feel for how someone demonstrates their strengths; you can actually see their passion and enthusiasm shine.

We know, from the data gathered across our whole client base, that video interviewing is the best predictor of success at final interview/assessment centre stage, and this has been across a variety roles.

With this knowledge we are adjusting our processes to ensure that more candidates have the opportunity to undertake video interviews, and not get discounted at online form stage – which, alone, is not a great predictor of success.


We’d love to hear about any issues that you have faced with the methods that you currently use, and any feedback on the usefulness of this blog.

 

Future-Proofing Graduate Recruitment

Building a Rapport

Building a rapport with candidates and employees is essential

Building a rapport is an integral part of any recruitment process – if it isn’t in yours, it should be.

Having a rapport with someone is having a good understanding of someone, and the ability to communicate well with them – building a relationship through mutual trust and respect. Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? But, do you do it as often as you should in your recruitment process?

Initially, I’m going to look at the “why” you should be building a rapport, before addressing the speculation around “how”.


So, why is it necessary to build a rapport with a candidate?

Let’s look at this from two perspectives:

  • The candidate. The candidate sees all contact with representatives of the company as an insight into the employee culture. Many candidates may even reject jobs if no rapport is made, purely because this gives a negative reflection of the employee culture at that company. Think about it: would you want to be in a job in which nobody really speaks to you? You can lose a high-quality candidate, who knows what they’re looking for, as quickly as you can approve their application – their comfort is your benefit.
  • The interviewer. This gives you an opportunity, one-to-one with the candidate, to really get to know them. Make sure there’s nothing in the room to intimidate them, starting with yourself – open up your body, because if you look comfortable, they’ll start to feel more comfortable. Getting to know the candidate, and asking them more in-depth questions, gives you an insight into their personality and their capabilities in the workplace – both of which can be important factors when making a job offer. If you really get to know them, you’ll be able to make a more informed decision about whether or not they are suited, not just to the role but, to the business.

Now, you know ‘why’ you should be building a rapport with all of your candidates.

So, ‘how’ do you build a rapport with your candidates?

  • Body language. As I previously said, opening up your body language will be less intimidating for the candidate. This will allow them to feel more comfortable in the environment and be more like themselves. Try this: don’t cross your arms. Don’t cross your legs. Try leaning slightly forward to show them that you are actually listening.
  • Eye contact. Some candidates may feel as though you’re being rude by not maintaining eye contact. This is enough to put the candidate off wanting the job. Maintaining eye contact when you’re listening shows that you are paying attention and taking in exactly what the candidate is saying. Maintaining eye contact when you’re talking shows that you are confident in your message which, in turn, makes the candidate believe what you are saying.
  • Take a genuine interest in them. Get to know what’s important to them – taking this time to do so can help you get to know the candidate, and also reaffirms their interest in your company by exhibiting the employee culture in a positive way.

The above points are some of the main things you can do to build a rapport with your candidates.


However, there are a number of simple things that you can start doing that will contribute to a strong rapport:

  • Offer them a firm, but not intimidating, handshake
  • Answer questions as honestly as possible
  • Relate to them on a personal level, if possible – do as much research on them as possible (e.g. “I see you’re from *****, my parents were born there).
  • Offer them a compliment, but don’t seem too enthusiastic about it (e.g. “I like your *****”)
  • Empathise with them – try and see things from their perspective. Understand how they feel about things.
  • Use their name regularly. This creates more of a ‘friendship’ feel about the process, whilst also reaffirming their name to yourself so you won’t risk forgetting it.

To build a rapport with a candidate, you don’t have to like or agree with everything they say. All you have to do is understand and respect it. There are a large number of things that you can do, that are extremely simple, to help you build a rapport with your candidates.


Your recruitment process should be an enjoyable experience for all of your candidates – building a rapport makes it easier for them to transition between stages, making it more comfortable and enjoyable for them, whilst also allowing you to pick out and grab hold of the best talent.

So, how will you go about building a rapport with your candidates?

Your Diverse Workforce

no shows at interview

‘How can I avoid no shows at interview?’–  is something clients ask me, usually before they start working with us at Cohesion. And with this, I wanted to share some simple yet effective tips that can prevent your time from being wasted.

As a HR professional your diary is full for the foreseeable future. You’re under pressure to maintain high levels of service delivery while reducing costs, and yet you still need to find time to interview for your next Support Worker intake.

Frontline recruitment is one of your biggest challenges, yet it always gets pushed down the priority list – because let’s face it; recruitment shouldn’t be a big part of your job, right?


Download our e-book for more tips on running the best recruitment campaign ever!


Recruitment is important – without the right staffing levels you can’t deliver a safe service, and you’re probably over-reliant on the use of agency staff which is eating away at your reducing budgets. So when you do find time to interview? The last thing you need is a wasted day of candidate’s failing to turn up.

1. Make the interview process simple

The assessment process needs to be purposeful and identify candidates who will thrive in your organisation. Challenging interviews are acceptable, but ensure the tools you use are relevant; pitched at the right level and appropriate for your audience.

If you’ve decided you want an assessment day format – don’t over complicate. In this setup, provide a company introduction to welcome candidates and relax them into the day, follow up with one or a maximum of two ability exercises, and round off with the interview.

If you’re keeping candidates for a longer period, be sure to offer refreshments, and a tour of your business if you can – see how they interact with others in your community and your team.

2. Engage with your candidates at every stage

Regular communication touch points from the date of application are vital. Recent CIPD research found that over 70% of candidates will decide whether to accept a job offer or not based on their recruitment journey with that company.

Get this wrong and you can wave goodbye to the star candidate who matches your company values and beamed with passion at interview.

A call to explain any unexpected delays, making full use of your ATS to update candidates via a personalised message, and sending a good luck text message before their interview are always a nice touch.

3. Explain the process and your expectations

If you’ve used the same interview format for some time, you’ll be confident that you know exactly what you want from the day ahead. Remember – candidates won’t share this knowledge.

Be sure to explain what can be expected from the interview, what they should research, and what type of questions you’ll be asking.

Don’t give too much away of course, but equally don’t leave candidates guessing or confused. Don’t forget to explain the steps that follow the interview to continue engagement and manage expectations.

no shows at interview

4. Ask candidates where else they are interviewing

This question may seem a tad brave, but it’s worth trying. If your candidate is interviewing for a competitor, you know they are serious about your sector.

By knowing what date their other interview is, you can ensure your interview date doesn’t cause you to miss out on a good candidate.

Ask them how much they want your position over another application – here you can judge their level of commitment and begin to build up a picture of a candidate’s motivations.

5. Have a contingency plan

Whilst here at Cohesion we’ve achieved great results with reducing no show rates for our clients, the reality is that there will always be candidates who don’t turn up for interview.

Don’t use a bad experience as a reason to overbook interview slots – chances are, everyone will turn up and a messy setup won’t give a good impression.

If you find yourself in this situation, why not spend some time talking to your staff about what they love about their job – this gives you plenty of ammunition for when you’re booking candidates for interview next time around.

dave

Dave Beesley is a Client Relationship Manager at Cohesion who delivers our recruitment services to social and health care clients. If you can’t tell, interview no shows are a big ‘pet hate’ of Dave’s! Get in touch with him at dave.beesley@cohesionrecuitment.com or on 0121 713 8320.