Interview preparation by employers is an important aspect of ensuring a great candidate experience and therefore hiring the best talent.
Whether you view interviewing as a necessary evil or a refreshing change from day to day consulting work, the reality is that few management consulting professionals are trained interviewers. Self-evidently, however, their role is crucial in attracting candidates to their firms and ensuring that they have the skill sets, personal qualities, and experience to undertake the role for which they are being assessed. Some interview preparation is, therefore, essential!
Establish the interview process
Construct your interview process to fulfill the following criteria:
- Acquire basic information – age, location preferences, details of current salary, salary requirements, the reason for job search, notice period, contact details, the status of job search, the reason for interest in the role/firm etc.
- A maximum of three stages, which will include meeting all relevant decision makers.
- Evaluation of career history including promotions, reporting lines and reasons for job moves.
- Evaluation of a candidate’s skills and experience as required by the role.
- Assessment of personal qualities and personality characteristics with references to the role and firm in question.
- Briefing the candidates on the role and selling the company.
- Allowing candidates to ask questions and evaluate their own comfort with the firm, role, and people.
- Completing the process within a reasonable time scale: not too hasty, not too slow.
Agreement across decision makers
In advance, ensure you get consensus with your colleagues on both the process you will follow and the candidate requirements. In particular, consider the following key factors:
- Decide on the candidate profile and that all the criteria specified are genuinely relevant pre-requisites for success in the role
- What qualities do you seek in a candidate? How will you measure these qualities and at what stage in the process?
- What are your selling points as an employer? How will you ensure that you make the candidate aware of these from an early stage of the recruitment process?
- Who will you involve in the process and why?
Of the four points above, the most important aspect of interview preparation and management is evaluating the candidate. You can employ a traditional experience related interview, or alternatively a more sophisticated competency based techniques, and include formal or informal presentations. The key point is that the choice of format must be directly relevant to the role i.e. there is no point in asking someone to do a presentation if it’s not likely they will be doing so in the job. Psychometrics and aptitude tests are sometimes included in the selection process without any clear reason or logic but of course can have real value!
Interview preparation checklist
While the nature of the interview will depend on the stage of the process and the role of the interviewer, the following checklist may help:
1. Am I clear what my role is in this interview and what the next step is in the process?
2. Do I have a copy of the CV (and covering letter if provided)?
3. Allow at least 10 minutes to thoroughly read the CV and note points which require discussion. Refer to any previous interview notes if relevant.
4. If it is not the first interview, check well in advance (i.e. not 15 minutes before) for notes from previous interviewers. Arrange to speak to previous interviewers.
5. If it is the final stage of the process, ensure you glean all relevant information from the candidate.
Finally, ensure you keep the candidate or your recruitment consultant updated on the progress of the application. Give a prompt decision where possible. Good management consultancy candidates may be considering a number of options and the interview process has a direct bearing on how likely a candidate is to accept an offer.