My recruitment week…

My recruitment week…

I used to go out in the morning really excited to meet lots of new extraordinary people and …believe me I did that absolutely everyday!!!! I’ll let you guess my job: I serve a lot of glasses of water, visit a lot of different hotels, ask a lot of questions, observe a lot of different behaviors, have to dress immaculately, be charming and smile a lot!!!

Now I can imagine you SMIRKING…You got it wrong…I am a PROFESSIONAL….double wrong!!!…I worked in England as an independent assessor on large recruitment campaigns!!!

Here are a few mishappenings that usually sent me to the water cooler pretty quick (YES…more water!!!). Stress makes you act in really weird ways from time to time..!!

Candidates unable to speak any English…and using every trick in the book to save themselves time, in order to be able to grasp what the question actually means: “could you repeat that please?? …what you mean is …” then he repeats exact wording of the question….is that correct? I usually repeat the question once more, and then rephrase the question in Pidgin English: You…preparation for this interview??? And… after all this effort, does not answer it!!…

Demonstrating how to count different travel zones for a test…Showing my three fingers in front of the face of the candidate and asking how many zones he can account for….4 was his response. Tried it again during another test: answer was two this time!! I guess arithmetic was not on top of their agenda…

During a role play,ie a situation given to the candidate who has to prepare himself for a specific scenario happening… the candidate took the brief so seriously and literally that he wrestled the assessor to the floor shouting: DON’T MOVE… I’ll call an ambulance!!! It was so entertaining that the second assessor (another lady who serves glasses of water and visits lots of different venues…!) observing the exercise, let it proceed for a while before calling for a halt when it became…too dangerous for the assessor’s health!!

Closed body language: pen and finger pointing…feet inwards pointing…arms crossed. I even interviewed a candidate who had kept his anorak on (it was July…) and… , I realized when I took him back to the reception room….his backpack (which by then had become fairly flat…!) on during the whole interview!!! He was obviously keen to run away as soon as possible!!!! I must have been terrifying…

Body odor: candidate who obviously had never met (let alone been) in a bath and was getting excited …waving arms…result obtained: I.., choking to get some fresh unpolluted air and wishing candidate had no arm….!!!

During a particular role play, the candidate was supposed to call my daughter to let her know that I am running slightly late but will be with her shortly. This is the candidate’s interpretation of the scenario when asked: “but what are you going to tell my daughter???  Candidate (candidly):” that you are her mother”….Me (absolutely stunned): “But …she knows I am her mother!!!” A Vaudeville scene as my uncle would say (I am French by the way).

Cabin Crew candidate afraid of flying and thinking this was an opportunity to beat their flying phobia…or the trade union rep for the baggage handlers turning up for an internal hearing straight from work, all dressed in white…I don’t think he had ever touched a piece of luggage in his life…!!

Another tool used in an evaluation centre was an evidence based questionnaire: When asked to discuss a situation when someone was proving difficult to work with, candidate answered: cannot think of any situation as I have never had people disagreeing with me….!! Always useful information from the point of view of an assessor…

Another candidate who obviously had understood the competency based interview questionnaire! asking if the fact that we were asking probing questions would play against him…

One of my colleagues (that is a chap serving glasses of water (yes yes!! You got it this time…) ran into my assessment room one day and breathlessly described how he had called for a “Sharon Smith” in the reception area unable to identify a lady waiting, when a deep raucous voice answered that she was Sharon. He was so shocked that he could not establish the sex of the candidate and was asking for my help!! His chosen criteria were that the candidate had…small feet and a handbag so she was a lady for sure…!!!

And the skills I have acquired you may ask??? Mastering the art of holding several glasses of water at the same time…I am also an expert at tuning in to thousands of different accents and way of speaking…when in the beginning a candidate kept on referring to “we” I was confused about how many brothers and sisters he must have…now I am used to the royal “we”.

I have also learnt to never make assumptions (which believe me can be absolutely nearly impossible sometimes…!). People are amazing is my own conclusion to this fun hobby/job I held.

On a more serious tone, competency based interview help the assessor to determine in an objective manner if the candidate is suitable for the job…i.e. all the questions asked are based upon the skills required for the job.

For example, when recruiting for a famous airline company, it was paramount to be able to establish if the candidate was customer service focused. So rather than asking the candidate: are you customer focused or do you place your customers first?? I would ask a situation based question such as: can you remember the last time you provided exceptional customer service?? I.e. you went the extra mile for one of your customer?? In that instance the candidate would provide a situation when they thought they really had gone the “extra mile” for the customer. And in analyzing the situation, I could determine if the customer was top of the candidate’s agenda or not. Therefore I could then match the demonstrated skills with my client’s requirements of exceptional customer service…

This work technique enables the assessor to work in an objective manner and in a consistent way by repeating the same technique. Through giving the same chance to each candidate!!!

This competency based technique is now starting to make its way in France. Let’s hope it will become common knowledge throughout the French recruitment world quickly and efficiently!!!!


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