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Tips on choosing the right candidate at interview – Sally Laker

by: Sally Laker, managing director, Mortgage Intelligence
  • 08/11/2016
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Tips on choosing the right candidate at interview – Sally Laker
In my view, successful businesses have good people working together as a team to deliver that success and create a positive culture with a real buzz that is tangible.

So ensuring that you have the right people in place, with the skills and attitude to achieve the business goals is key. Making the wrong choice when recruiting new people is a costly mistake especially in a smaller business, so getting the interview process right is very important.


Putting the time in to perfect the process really matters. Paying careful attention to the job description not only ensures it gives a clear synopsis of the role but also defines the skill set required to do the job. Whether dealing direct or through an agency, everyone involved should be crystal clear on the expected level of skills and experience, thus helping to short circuit the first step of picking the CVs that are relevant.

The interview

Depending on whether it is a local role or field-based, a telephone interview is a really good way of obtaining a snapshot of the candidate, and enables you to select who to bring in for a face-to-face interview. Although it sounds impersonal, it works well, and is a time efficient way to contact more candidates.

The face-to-face interview of course enables you to draw out the best from the candidate, providing you have a good and relevant question set, and setting a tricky task really shows what they can do under pressure. The task needs to be akin to the job they will do, and particularly with field based roles, a presentation of how they intend to do the role is a great way to showcase their ideas and draw out their skills. Always make notes and take someone with you as they will often see a different perspective which also helps inform the decision-making process.

At this point the right person may be shining through, but a second interview covering a wider question set should confirm this.

Decision process

Setting up a matrix to record the skill set and the interview performance will help you make the final decision. Always go back to those candidates that weren’t successful, and give feedback if they ask what they could have done better, as it will help them next time.

The safety net of course is the probation period, and regular reviews on their performance gives them a chance to prove they have what it takes, if they don’t, you learn from your mistake and review your interview process.

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