It's starts well before the candidates find themselves in front of the interview panel when the person specification is being drawn up. Why state how many years experience an individual must have when what you really want to know is the range and depth of experience? What is better ten years experience which on examination is one years experience repeated times or three years in which every year brought new challenges and new learning opportunities? What the interview panel want to find out is what the candidate has learnt from their experience that would better equip them for the post.
"Must have experience of /background in this area of service" is an essential criteria I frequently came across in management posts. Yet the most useful skills and experience would be managing budgets, managing staff, managing buildings, experience of transforming services plus experience of managing customer complaints and running marketing campaigns. What does it mater where those experiences were gained?
The interview questions would then be-
Tell us how you went about delivering a significant budget reduction?
How have you tackle absenteeism in a large staff group?
What experience have you in addressing Health and Safety issues amongst a dispersed work force ?
Tell us about a high profile complaint you dealt with and how you resolved it.
How have you gone about improving the image of a service to general public/ local politicians/ partner agencies ?
Here's a radical idea tell candidates in advance these will be the questions in the interview. That way they can make the most of their experience but tell them they have a strict five minutes on each question or you will be interviewing late into the night.
In drawing up person specifications and framing interview questions in this way I have attracted a wider range of candidates and appointed people with untypical backgrounds who would other wise have been excluded, without exception they made excellent appointments.
Beware of unnecessary essential criteria you may be ruling out the best candidate.
Blair McPherson former director www.blairmcpherson.co.uk
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I worked in a residential boarding school run by the local authority for boys with...
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