Interviews can be just as stressful for interviewers as the interviewee. In our four part series on interview tips for interviewers we will look at how to plan an interview; how to structure an interview; interview questions and topics to cover; and following up after an interview. In this post we look at planning an interview.
Part 1: Planning
Good planning will reduce anxiety and therefore enable panel members to give their full attention to the actual interview. Before the interview, the panel needs to take time together to sort out the following:
1. Clarifying and agreeing selection criteria
The selection criteria should be taken from the person specification. The panel need to take time to ensure that they are all agreed on these criteria with a common understanding of what they mean. Develop an interview marking form for each member of the panel with the names of the candidates and a list of the criteria. The panel should assess each candidate against each criterion. They usually do this individually directly after the interview.
2. Planning questions
From their agreed understanding of the selection criteria then develop a limited set of specific questions pertaining to the essential duties and responsibilities of the position to probe for the candidate’s strengths and weaknesses. The interview is for a limited time so it is essential that each question is focused and purposeful. The questions should be designed to make sure that the panel gets the information needed to assess whether this person will be the most suitable for the position.
Interview questions should only relate to the job requirements. When framing questions employment and equality legislation should be borne in mind. Care should be taken to avoid questions whose content or wording might be perceived as giving rise to unequal treatment of one candidate compared to another of a different age, gender, marital status etc. Questions should deal with a candidate’s skills, talents, qualifications and help him or her demonstrate their capacity to do the job.
The panel should decide in advance who will ask which questions and in what order. The panel also needs to clarify what information they should give to the candidates during the course of the interview, for example:
– Terms and conditions: It is important that the panel is clear about the range of terms and conditions being offered. Be clear about the period of probation, if there are unsocial hours to be worked, the nature of the contract, permanent or fixed term, and the salary scale.
– Making the decision: It is good to be explicit about the timing of the decision-making and how the decision is to be communicated to the candidates.
3. Interview practice
If one or more members of the interview panel have not interviewed before it is helpful to practise agreed questions to check that they are clear and well communicated. Role plays are very useful for practising interview skills.
4. Roles on the interview panel
The panel needs to allocate roles, responsibilities and question areas. It is important not to stereotype members of the panel in the process. It is advisable to have a chairperson of the panel. The four key tasks of the chairperson are:
– To facilitate the panel in planning the interview process together
– To facilitate and direct the interviews according to the agreed structure and timing
– To ensure that the panel reflects on how they are working as a team throughout the day as necessary and make changes accordingly
– To facilitate the panel discussion and decision making process
5. The panel as a team
The panel needs to work together as a team so it is very helpful for members to consider in advance how they will deal with potential problems and disagreements. They also need to ensure that they have shared understanding of what equal opportunities interviewing entails. It is advisable to discuss how they can interrupt each other if they think it is necessary. It helps to take time after the first interview to evaluate how it went and how the panel are working together.
6. Structure of the interview
The interview should be planned so that it relates directly to the job description, the person specification and the candidate. If it is a large panel it is important to ensure that the interview is not just a series of short, superficial exchanges with each member. It is useful to tell each candidate the plan for the interview at the outset.
7.Timetable for the interviews
It is wise not to cram too many interviews into one day, six to eight at maximum. To make the best selection and to be fair to all candidates the interview panel needs to be able to maintain attention and remember all the interviews with equal clarity.
There should be a copy of the timetable for the day, with the timing and spacing of interviews, breaks and running order with the candidates’ names, for each member of the panel and for the person working on reception. The length of interviews depends on the job and is usually from half an hour up to an hour. It is essential to give the panel adequate time to ascertain fully the interviewee’s skills and experience in each of the requirements specified in the person specification. If there are two sets of interviews for a position the first is usually shorter and the second is longer, giving the panel an opportunity to explore areas in greater depth.
8. Venue and physical environment
The physical environment for the interview and for candidates waiting to be interviewed is very important. The furniture in the interview room should be arranged to help both the candidates and the interview panel concentrate, feel comfortable and be at ease. Put up notices that indicate the interview and waiting rooms are in use and ensure that there will be no interruptions during the interviews. Make sure that there is somebody to let the candidates in, get them a cup of tea or coffee and show them where the bathroom is.
9. Agreeing a decision-making procedure
The panel also needs to agree in advance how they will make a decision. It is recommended that the panel takes time after each interview to score candidates individually according to each of the selection criteria and then to have a short collective discussion. Members should be reminded that in order to ensure fairness their assessments must be made on the basis of evidence from the interview rather than gut reactions or intuition. It is essential to have time for reflection and note-taking after each interview as people forget things easily. At the end of all the interviews, the panel should take time to make their decision by comparing their assessments and discussing each candidate. If the panel have used an interview marking form, the final decision may be on the basis of this.
The following official records should be kept for six months after the interviews are completed in order to be able to deal with any subsequent complaints:
- Job description
- Person specification
- Job advertisement
- Application forms
- Shortlisting procedure
- Selection criteria
- General framework for questions as planned in advance and where possible particular questions that arose during the interview
- Interview assessments for each candidate
- Any correspondence with candidates
- Final decision and the reason for making it.
It is important to clarify in advance what status will be given to references and at what stage in the selection process they will be sought. Generally references are not seen as a source of objective information so they should be weighted accordingly. References are most useful for checking out factual information, e.g. qualifications, length of service, sick leave record, attendance record, terms and conditions and reasons for leaving a job.
It is advisable to plan what information is required of referees and not to ask for more than is necessary.
It is important to consider the possibility that a negative reference may be due to personal bias. In the case of a negative reference about a candidate who the panel considers very suitable, it may be necessary to check it out further by discussing it with the candidate to get his/her version of events. One of the referees should be the candidate’s current or last employer.
Posted by Recruitment Consultant, Sigmar on 7 December 2017
IT Jobs Market 2021
IT Jobs Market 2021
2020 was an interesting year for Ireland’s IT jobs market with the initial impact of Covid causing some companies to reassess their recruitment practices - either pausing or freezing completely. However, most sectors have bounced back since March and we even saw some companies take advantage of a less competitive market and increased their hiring plans. In 2021, we expect to see a release of this “pent-up demand” for candidates as businesses begin to move back towards BAU models. Digital Transformation Digital transformation projects that typically would have taken years to plan happened practically overnight or over a few weeks as COVID-19 restrictions forced companies to speed up their digital adaptions in what became an “adapt or die” environment. 2021 will see a further increase in demand for individuals with digital transformation experience as companies accelerate further the digitisation of their customer and supply chain interactions and of their internal operations. Companies who failed to innovate or tweak their processes to suit the demand of the market felt a larger impact than companies who remained agile and changed quickly depending on the market demands. Consumers have moved dramatically toward online channels during the pandemic, so companies are having to create digital or digitally enhanced offerings in response. Cybersecurity Unsurprisingly with the adoption of remote work and the planning for transition to the next “normal”, we have seen huge demand for infrastructure and security professionals which we foresee continuing in 2021. As organisations pivoted to work from home models, security engineers rushed to establish secure connections and prevent network threats that targeted remote workers. At the same time, with the surge in online shopping and e-commerce transactions, they had to bolster their organisation’s e-commerce platforms. 2021 will see organisations continue to increase their spend on cybersecurity as companies look to how they will operate in a post-pandemic world. With many organisations such as Google planning for a “Hybrid” work-from-home model, i.e. employees working a few days in the office and a few at home, network security will be a priority. MedTech, Life Sciences and Healthcare Given how health has never been more in focus than it has been in the past year, it is perhaps no surprise that there has been a huge demand for IT professionals in the wider health industry. MedTech and Life Sciences companies are continually developing new and innovative treatments and consequentially developing technologies to enable this. We have seen an increase in demand of more “hybrid roles” such as IT professionals with experience working specifically within class 1 medical devices fields. Biotech and digital transformation within gene cell therapy in particular is set to be a large growth area for 2021. Connected health is set to be a large growth area for 2021 also, as medical practices are forced to digitize and with telehealth being forecast to grow exponentially. Candidate-led Market Despite the initial dip in March 2020, the market very much remains candidate driven. Particularly now as candidates are no longer bound to jobs within commuting distance of the office. Regional talent pools have flourished as candidates who would have worked in major cities, now have the opportunity to work remotely meaning they can move to their preferred location and still do the same job on the same salary as before. Regional companies also benefited as they are now able to tap into larger talent pools due to remote working practices. Perhaps what has been most surprising about 2020, is that salaries have stayed relatively stable, but candidates have been seeking increases in their packages over base. With the increase in remote working opportunities, candidates are no longer distracted by “bells and whistles” (free food, ping pong tables etc.) and instead are more interested in actual projects, technologies being used and career growth and progression. Therefore, our advice to employers is consider how you are marketing your positions. Contractors We saw in our 2020 Q3 survey findings that many businesses looked to Contractors to fill gaps in their teams while coping with the uncertainty in the market due to COVID-19. From recent discussions with our clients this trend is likely to continue in 2021. We particularly foresee an increase in demand of contract roles for Frontend/Fullstack Developers, DevOps Engineers and Data Analysts. As a result of the increase in demand, contract rates have been on the rise. With many large and SME organisations reverting to remote work this has opened the market up to all areas of Ireland. A big trend is seeing Contractors based in the regions now being able to work for the large organisations in the cities and receive the same rates of those based in the cities. Therefore, rates in the regional areas of Ireland have increased due to the remote access of new roles in the industry. All-in-all, we are optimistic about the IT jobs market in 2021 with plentiful opportunities across digital transformation, cybersecurity, MedTech, pharma etc. The roll-out of the vaccine should increase confidence and create further opportunities as the year progresses. Download our IT Salary Guide Ireland 2021 (PDF)
Salary Guide 2021
Salary Guide 2021
Download - Salary Guide Ireland 2021 (PDF) Executive Summary From Adie McGennis, CEO We thought we had seen it all! If someone said in January; that most of us would fundamentally change the way we work (possibly forever), that some markets would be down over 80%, that we’d all feel awkward when not wearing a mask, that we couldn’t meet any clients or candidates for most of the year, that international travel would be nearly impossible, and that in Ireland record levels of employment would turn to record levels of unemployment in a few weeks; you would probably expect a more volatile salary comparison guide at the end of 2020. Indeed, the personal and health toll for many puts business considerations in context, so we wish everyone well, good health and wellbeing. Obviously, some areas suffered more than others and many areas even thrived, but overall, the stability in professional salaries may be the remarkable aspect of 2020! Generally, in volatile times temporary and contract work increases and this was very much the case in 2020. Many companies had to deal with a rapidly changing landscape in terms of their market, remote work, government supports and varying degrees of lockdown. Progressive companies hired professionals on a temporary or contract basis, and even on a remote basis, so demand and rates did increase for contractors in areas such as IT. We see this continuing even as the rate of change is slowing and hopefully stabilising. For some years now, we have been talking about career plans being fluid and dynamic, and flexibility and contracting increasing. This definitely took a leap forward in 2020. Sector wise, life sciences, including pharmaceutical got increasingly busy throughout the year and from R&D to manufacturing to distribution, this looks set to continue growing for the next few years. Financial Services was more challenging, as their market and way of work changed so quickly. Certainly, towards the end of the year it seems to be stabilising. At the end of 2020 Brexit is again looming and Dublin’s and London’s financial services will experience change and opportunity as well as challenges, for at least the next few years. Construction really slowed in 2020, but again steadily picking up in last few months, as general demand returns but also the way construction sites work has evolved. As a group generally SMEs in Ireland handled the craziness really well. Agility, pivoting and bootstrapping seemed like management school concepts until out of necessity, many businesses changed their model, their cost base, their strategy, and their mentality very quickly to go from Survive to Thrive in a few months. So many inspirational stories. They deserve the opportunities that we hope an improving landscape will present. So, our outlook for Ireland in 2021 is positive. There will be more challenges in coming months, but we are optimistic that the general picture will improve. From a national perspective the short-term funding required will necessitate strong budget management in coming years to enable businesses to grow back. Ireland still carries a lot of debt and politically there may be pressure to increase public expenditure beyond sustainable rates. But as long as we get this right, we have every reason to be optimistic and put 2020 down to learning experience. Download Salary Guide Ireland 2021 (PDF) Salary Guide 2021 by department Accountancy & Finance Construction & Property Services Financial Services HR Insurance IT Legal & Compliance Life Sciences Manufacturing & Engineering Marketing Multilingual Office Support Sales Supply Chain
BCIBC CEO event with former Taoisigh John Bruton and Bertie Ahern
BCIBC CEO event with former Taoisigh John Bruton and Bertie Ahern
Sigmar CCO Robert Mac Giolla Phadraig interviewed former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern as part of the "Boston College Ireland Business Council Global Leadership Symposium" which took place on Dec 3rd. This was followed by an interview with former Taoiseach John Bruton, by Dr.Robert Mauro from Global Leadership Institute at Boston College. Both former leaders shared their thoughts on their term in office as well on the current political and economic landscape on issues such as Brexit and the US elections. This exclusive event was attended virtually by over 200 CEOs from both sides of the Atlantic and was the first time the event was held virtually. Born from partnerships formed during Boston College's college football game in Dublin in 2016, the BCIBC has grown to become a key business artery between Ireland and the US. The BCIBC is seen as the EU chapter of Boston College’s CEO Club, the second largest CEO forum in the world, next to WEF in Davos. This is the 6th instalment in our Global Leadership series and to date, we have welcomed over 2000 global CEOs to our bi-annual symposia. Previous speakers have included former heads of state, Ministers, Congressmen; Dermot Desmond, Willie Walsh (CEO of IAG); Denis O'Brien; Mike Mahoney, CEO of Boston Scientific; Pat Ryan, Chairman of AON; Andy McKenna, Chairman of McDonalds, Siobhan Talbot, CEO of Glanbia and Paul Coulson, Chairman of the Ardagh Group. Find our more: www.bostoncollegeirelandbusinesscouncil.com
Sigmar win "Best Staffing Firm To Work For in Ireland"
Sigmar win "Best Staffing Firm To Work For in Ireland"
Sigmar were delighted to be announced as "Best Staffing Firm To Work For in Ireland" at the Staffing Industry Analysts World Executive Forum today, Dec 2nd 2020. Thanks to the judges and our amazing staff for this award! The 2 day virtual forum covered the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on the staffing market, the current state of the industry and where firms can find growth in 2021 and beyond.