1. When, Where and With Whom?
No checklist would be complete without reference to the absolute basics. If your candidate doesn’t know when exactly the interview is, where exactly it is, and who’s going to be interviewing them, you’re setting yourself up for failure. And by ‘exactly’, we mean ‘exactly’!
- If you want the interview to start at 9am. on the dot, tell them to turn up ‘Before 9am.’
- If possible, tell them exactly where the interview will be. Sure, it’s in XYZ Tower; but what floor and in which room will the interview take place? You don’t want your candidate arriving out of breath because they had to run up five flights of stairs!
- If the interview is a group interview, let them know. If it’s a two-on-one interview, let them know. Two-on-one and group interviews need completely different prep to the regular kind.
Being as specific as you can is an absolute must. It’s the only way to prevent last minute rushing, which can completely throw a candidate off their game.
2. What Will They Need With Them?
Because of the pressure of an interview, this is something that candidates frequently forget: did they need to bring anything with them? There are loads of different circumstances where they might need something in their pocket or in their bag, and it can ruin the flow of the interview if they don’t have it to hand. For example:
- If you’re planning on putting the candidate through a whiteboard exercise, will they need to bring a marker?
If the interview is going to be a long one, they might need to bring their own packed lunch.
- Your candidate will have submitted their CV/cover letter when they applied, but it could come in handy if they bring a spare to the interview, just in case the interviewer needs one.
- There’s nothing worse than going for a three hour interview, and realising that by the end of it, you’ll be starving hungry because you didn’t bring a lunch. So make sure that they know to pick up a meal deal on their way in!
3. Give Them Example Questions
Here’s a great point. Giving the candidate an idea of what they’re likely to be asked can really help them out. That doesn’t mean giving them all of the questions verbatim beforehand; that gives them a little too much chance to prep perfectly, and they won’t be on their toes. But if the purpose of the interview is to find out more about their work history or their character in particular, let them know so that you can avoid any awkward silences.
4. Casual, Smart Casual, Tuxedo…?
Again, this is a basic, but it can avoid the awkwardness of everybody in the interview room wearing a suit… Apart from the candidate! Remember that different candidates in different fields have different expectations when it comes to dress code. If somebody works in IT, for example, then they won’t be wearing a suit and tie every day they come to work. But if it’s still important for them to look smart at their interview no matter what, you have to let them know- or you could both end up red faced.
5. Tell Them What You’re Looking For
This is something you’d hope they picked up from the job ad they responded to. But let’s face it: plenty of candidates gloss over stock phrases like ‘we’re looking for a dynamic self-starter who’s happy working to deadlines.’ I mean, isn’t that a description that would fit any job?!
Before they come in for interview, make sure that you let your candidate know exactly what you’re looking for. Are you really focussing on finding a team player? Or do you want a leader? They can focus their prep on your probably questions, and perhaps even start considering whether they’re right for the job. It’s better to find out before the first interview than after wasting everyone’s time!
6. Give Them Insider Tips
Next up, there’s really no harm in giving them some insider tips, both in terms of interview technique and the position they’re applying for. Remind them that things like body language and managing nerves are just as important as swotting up on the business they’ll be working for.
Say for example that you have a candidate interviewing for a role as web developer. Now, you know that the business needs them know Angular JS inside and out, and that there’ll be questions on it during the interview… Maybe even a brief exercise! Prep your candidate by warning them in advance, so that they can have a fair shout at showing their skills.
And there you have it: six ways that you can help your candidates prepare for their first interview. However you help your candidates prep, though, remember this: you’re going through the process together. It’s not supposed to be ‘you vs. them’. So any little thing that you can do to help will be much appreciated, and even better, will help you turn more candidates into hires.