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
The Remote-Work Rebound: Hybrid workforce grows by two-thirds, remote workforce down by 54%
The Remote-Work Rebound: Hybrid workforce grows by two-thirds, remote workforce down by 54%
The Talent Leaders Pulse Report was commissioned by Sigmar Recruitment as part of Talent Summit 2023."The power dynamic between employer and employee is rebalancing after two years of hyper competition, with early signs of a shift back to office. The fallout of remote working has seen employees pitted against employers as we look to sustain flexible working practices and settle on desired places of work. We are witnessing the remote work rebound, with twice as many workers now working a hybrid model over full-time remote. The hybrid workers now make up 51% of the current workforce, while the remote workforce has reduced by 54% within the last 12 months. This reflects employers’ sentiment that 87% of employees do their best work in a hybrid model.”, says Talent Summit founder and Sigmar CCO, Robert Mac Giolla Phádraig.Talent Summit 2023 Employment Survey Highlights at a glance:Hybrid WorkHybrid workforce grows by two-thirds, remote workforce down by 54% as employees spend more days in office.2023: 51% working hybrid (30% in 2022), 25% full-time remote (44% in 2022) and 24% in-office (26% in 2022). Of the Hybrid workforce more time is spent in-office over the last 12 months: 81% work 2 days or more in 2023 compared to 74% in 2022.Tuesday (68%), Wednesday (78%) and Thursday (67%) are the most popular days to be in-office with Monday (18% ) and Friday (8%) being the least.Employers believe employees do their best work, working a hybrid model (87%), followed by in-office (11%) with full-time remote (7%) considered the least productive model.Headcount2023 set to see the largest reduction in headcount in the last 5 years with 18% of employers expecting a reduction this year. 62% expect an increase and 20% expect their headcount to remain the same.HR PrioritiesThe Top 5 priorities for HR for 2023 show competing priorities creating a confusing labour market: (1) retention (2) labour costs (3) recruitment (4) sustaining a dispersed culture (5) performance management.Pay63% of employees expected to receive a pay rise of 6% in 2023 (the lowest % pay rise in 6 years)READ THE FULL REPORTThe current labour market is a confusing one and 2023 looks set to be challenging with many contradictions at play which in turn is creating a tug-of-war of work on four main fronts:Workforce: Employers are looking to balance workforce reduction, employee retention and continuous recruitment needs at all once; Work practices: The need to offer individual flexibility to all employees is often at odds with the collective need for greater productivity;Workplace: Work is shifting back to the office with the hybrid workforce spending more days in office and as employers believe employees are least productive full-time remote;Labour Costs: The rise in the cost of living is driving employee salary expectations yet at the same time employers are tightening budgets with economic uncertainty on the horizon.Commenting on workplace, Mac Giolla Phádraig adds: “The workplace has been the topic of conversation since the pandemic and employers have polarised preferences. The intense competition for talent the last two years has seen employers who favoured in-office, soften their view as employees demanded greater flexibility in a hyper-competitive labour market. As that demand recedes, those employers find their voice once more, albeit veiled in language around performance and challenges around sustainable work practices. The flexibility offered to employees now seems to be rebounding to more days in office.” READ THE FULL REPORTABOUT THIS SURVEYThe Talent Summit Pulse Survey 2023 was commissioned by Sigmar Recruitment as part of Talent Summit 2023. This is the sixth year the study has been conducted, measuring the pulse of Talent Leaders on a range of Talent Topics. 244 talent leaders from across Ireland took part in the study, comprising of senior executives responsible for talent decision making within their respective organisations, ranging from CHROs, CEOs HR Directors to Heads of HR functions such as L&D, Recruitment, Organisational Development and Performance Management.Europe’s largest HR, work and employment conference, Talent Summit 2023 will take place in Dublin’s Convention Centre on Thursday, 9 March, 2023, welcoming 1500 guests.www.talentsummit.ie
IT Market Overview 2023
IT Market Overview 2023
IT Jobs Market 2023According to a report released by Eurostat, employment in Ireland in NACE category J62 (Computer programming, consultancy, and related activities) reached almost 120,000 at the start of 2022, increasing from 80,000 as recent as the end of 2019. The market is now moving from what was an unsustainable level of demand for technology talent to a more sustainable level- ensuring the market remains highly competitive. Whilst there has been news of layoffs in SaaS Technology companies, traditional industries such as Finance, Banking, Fintech as well as Life Sciences/Biopharma continue to hire at rapid rates, ensuring the market is still holding strong. Employers across multiple sectors (particularly Fintech) are still hiring highly skilled tech talent and are now more open to candidates relocating from Mainland Europe. Onboarding and Aftercare remain highly important as candidates are still prone to receiving multiple offers due to high levels of competition. Download our 2023 IT Salary Guide for IrelandAreas of DemandSoftware engineering remains the most highly sought-after skillset, with a particular focus on DevOps, Java, Python, .Net, React and Angular Js. With the continued rollout of digital transformation projects across Irish businesses, QA also remains in high demand. This move towards automated processes has allowed employees within heavily manual positions to upskill in areas such as SDET and RPA. Within an uncertain marketplace, businesses continue to be data driven; choosing to lean on their analytics teams where possible. Data Engineering appears to be the role highest in demand within this vertical, closely followed by data science. With the continuation of a hybrid working model, infrastructure remains as important as always. Most Irish based companies are choosing to move towards a serverless environment, which means there is a high demand for Site Reliability Engineers, Systems engineers, Cloud Engineers as well as technical support specialists at all levels. Ireland has a rich talent pool for executive level talent within IT, ranging from Software Engineering Managers to CTOs. With the continued pattern of new market entrants on the FDI side, these positions remain in high demand. Competitive PackagesTo ensure competitive advantage, employers must offer base salaries, benefits, and perks in line with the market expectations or else risk losing strong candidates from recruitment process. In terms of monetary benefits, healthcare remains the most highly sought from candidates post-covid times followed closely by pensions. This could be linked to a heavier focus on financial security for the future. An interesting development of late, is the increasing number of companies using sign on bonuses to secure new hires- We expect to see this continue throughout 2023 as companies fight to retain current employees and attract new hires. To maintain a competitive advantage, employers also need to be mindful of employee experience.Individualized experience proposals given to candidates or employees may be beneficial for employers to remain competitive in:CollaborationEquity in cultural experiences for remote/in-office workersEmployee well-being How employers handle these elements will ultimately determine how successful employers will be in the battle for talent. Demand for Remote WorkHybrid working policies are now the most popular model offered to permanent employees, with 85% of our clients offering 3 days in office/2 days remote working. With the balance in the tug of war for talent shifting more in favour to the employer, companies are now addressing WFH policies on a more individual basis rather than a blanket policy. Flexibility for fully remote work appears to be offered however to candidates in the most demanded areas, with the caveat that they are based in the Republic of Ireland and will travel to the office on an ad-hoc basis when required. This may reverse as job security heightens as a priority in a tough economic climate. ContractorsBusinesses are continuing to look to Contractors to fill gaps in their teams in tandem with permanent positions; a trend we foresee continuing throughout 2023. An interesting development in the market is that it is no longer just large organisations leaning on contractors. SMEs are also now tapping into the contractor talent pool as a way of supplementing their workforce- especially now that permanent salaries appear to be on par with contractor daily rates due to market inflation. We particularly foresee an increase in demand of contract roles across Cloud, Data and Development.Outsourced IT functions also appear to be on the rise for more commercially focused IT positions (Business Analytics, Project managers) as well as infrastructure support. Increased RatesAs a result of the increase in demand, due to several variables ranging from talent availability, higher levels of competition, perceived instability of the IT market portrayed in the media as well as a somewhat limited talent pool, contract rates have been on the rise and will continue to increase in 2023.It is now common practice for a contractor to ask and receive rate increases when their contracts are up for renewal. Recruitment and retention therefore remain high priorities for companies using contractors. Remote WorkWith organisations now comfortable with remote work arrangements, the market has opened up to all areas of Ireland. A noticeable trend has arisen for IT Contractors based in the regions who are now being able to work for large multi-national organisations in their own cities whilst receiving the same rates of those based in the capital.This has therefore resulted in daily rates within regional areas of Ireland to be on par with those of in the major cities.All-in-all, we are optimistic about the IT Contracts job market in 2023 with plentiful opportunities across infrastructure, development and data in particular. IT Salary Guide 2023Download our 2023 IT Salary Guide for Ireland
Employers Inclusivity Toolkit
Employers Inclusivity Toolkit
This Inclusivity Employment Toolkit drawn up by the Open Doors Initiative is aimed at assisting companies working with our three groups – people with disabilities, refugees and asylum seekers and youth from disadvantaged backgrounds. Jeanne McDonagh, CEO of The Open Doors Initiative said: “We are delighted to work with Employers for Change, one of our key supported programmes, along with Atlantic Technological University, to produce this Inclusive Recruitment booklet and training. Many of our companies have asked for guidance in this space and it is a much needed resource to ensure an inclusive workplace. We wish to thank the participants who gave us their expert knowledge and experience in putting this together and look forward to engaging with companies in this important training.” In creating this toolkit, which is supported by AIB, research was carried out in partnership with Atlantic Technological University (ATU) to understand the specific barriers for people from marginalised communities when seeking employment and the best strategies for becoming truly inclusive in the hiring process.DOWNLOAD PDFSigmar is a member of The Open Doors Initiative to help provide opportunities to some of the marginalised members of our society: refugee, asylum seekers and non-native English speakers; young people under 25 with educational barriers; and people with a disability.This information is taken from the OpenDoors website.
5 Common Interview Questions and How to Answer Them
5 Common Interview Questions and How to Answer Them
Whether you have been working in the same company for several years, or if you’ve been working within a wide array of industries in a variety of roles, at some point, we have all experienced the ‘Job Interview.’ We each have our own experiences with job interviews, some good, and some, unfortunately, less so. Interviews can be a very daunting concept, with the mounting pressure that the next step of your professional career hangs on the balance of your performance within the next 30–60 minutes. However, like many challenges in life, this process can be made significantly less stressful and much more successful with the right amount of preparation. Therefore, we have compiled a list of some of the most popular questions that an employer will ask you during an interview, and crucially, what the employer is hoping to learn about you from the answer you give. Familiarise yourself with how you should approach each question and the traps you could fall into. Think of ways you can apply the given examples to your own experience and you’re sure to leave your next interview feeling full of confidence. Tell me a little bit about yourself and what has led you to applying for this role? What may on the surface seem a relatively innocuous question, it is actually one of, if not the most important question of the interview. This is most likely the first time you and your potential employer will be sat face to face, and they are going to want to see how you hold yourself, convey information and how you act when meeting new people. Answers given may also provide openings to further conversation, though try not to waffle. My advice would be to give a brief overview of your education and relevant experience, the moment, or ‘thing’ that attracted you to this particular industry and a ‘golden skill’ that has allowed you to become successful in your working life. Wrap this answer up with your career goal and its close link to the role that you are being interviewed for and you will have provided a very strong introduction to your interviewers. Can you describe your Strengths and Weaknesses? This question can prove to be somewhat of a ‘gotcha’ moment in the interview if you are not prepared, as the interviewer will not only be interested in your direct response to this question, but the manner in which you address it: Strengths The key thing to keep in mind when answering this question is to not come across as boastful or arrogant. Of course, you are going to want to sell yourself as the perfect candidate for the job, however there is a fine line between providing relevant skills vs listing your long and attributed list of accolades. Employers will be looking for skills relevant to the role, so study the job description and focus on three key qualities you possess that can be directly applied to the role. Make sure to give relevant examples too! Weaknesses Despite what the word weakness implies, you’re going to want to avoid being too negative when providing this answer. The key when answering this question, is to let the employer know that you have recognised an area of personal weakness, and that you are taking steps to improve upon this so that it will no longer hinder your performance at work. It is important to give examples of the steps you have taken to improve, show your current progress, and emphasize that your progress has been acknowledged. Example – I would say my greatest weakness, is the fact that I sometimes find it quite hard asking other people for help. I tend to try and figure things out for myself, instead of asking the people in my team for guidance, which would be a faster way of working. Having said that, I am seeking to improve on this, and have since become more mindful of situations where this may occur in the future. Why do you want to work for us? This is a great opportunity to convey your passion and interest in not just the role, but the company as a whole. Preparation for this question is key, as knowledge of a company’s history, practices and its various accolades that have incentivised you to apply for this position, shows an employer that you acknowledge the companies’ key practices, ethics and progression within the industry. Discuss how this particular role is best suited to your own particular set of skills, and that your values and goals are aligned with those of your employer. What are your salary expectations? This question is almost certain to come up at some point, and if you aren’t prepared, it can cause a moment of panic in an interview. You don’t want to price yourself out of the job by asking for a salary that is too high, neither do you want to undervalue yourself and end up getting paid a lesser amount than what you could, or should, be working for. In order to avoid an uneasy atmosphere, prepare your response in advance. Research similar roles within the field and look out for consistencies in pay. The job you’re applying for may even have a listed salary attached to the description. We here at Sigmar prepare a yearly salary guide that covers many different roles in a wide range of industries. Take a look at this year’s guide, it will give you a good starting point when considering the salary being offered to you. This link will take you to our Sigmar Salary Guide: https://www.sigmarrecruitment.com/blog/2022/02/salary-guide-2022 How would you deal with potential conflict in the workplace? This question is an open door to an employer for assessing your level of emotional intelligence. By demonstrating your capacity for empathy, and your understanding of different personality types, you will show that you are highly emotionally intelligent, and understanding that ‘teamwork makes the dream work.’ However, you will want to be mindful of not appearing overly negative when answering this question. Generally, negativity should be avoided during an interview, however, like our assessment of the question regarding personal weakness, there are ways to address negative issues in a constructive way. Key points in the right direction are to lead with empathy and compassion, focus on your own subjective experience without pointing out flaws in others, and replace ‘but’ with ‘and,’ which deescalates a conversation from an argument to a discussion. In Conclusion Of course, we have only covered a select few questions in this post, and no doubt you will have come across one or two more ‘repeat questions’ in different interviews. We will be exploring further interview questions in later posts, however, these 5 questions are certainly amongst the more popular questions interviewers will pose to you, so preparing you’re answers to these will certainly increase your chances of a successful interview.