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What exactly does making love, driving and recruitment have in common? – by Jeff Grout

Jeff Grout

Jeff Grout

There are three things in life that people generally refuse to admit they are bad at: driving, making love and conducting an interview. A good interview technique involves putting candidates at ease, effective listening, making an effort not to talk too much, and asking the right questions in the right way. Obvious.  But not easy.  Too many interviewers see the interview as a form of conversation, when it should be a structured mechanism for obtaining relevant information about past job performance.

Preparation is important, particularly reviewing CVs and application forms, and identifying questions that can get at the heart of the candidate’s experience and working style. Competency-based interviewing techniques (see our blog post “Are you asking the right questions?“) – questions that focus on examples of how a candidate behaved in a real-life situation – gives much harder evidence than  simply asking the interviewee’s opinion of how they might potentially act in a hypothetical situation. If you subscribe to the notion that a leopard doesn’t readily change its spots, how someone behaved in the past is an excellent indicator of how they are likely to behave in the future.

Effective interviewing is a key requirement for any organisation seeking to identify and employ the most talented people, and those most likely to succeed within it.

Unfortunately, not everyone has natural interviewing ability. One in three HR professionals have concerns about the interviewing ability of the line managers in their company.

The problem is that job candidates tend to associate the interviewers they encounter with the organisation itself. If the interviewer is unprepared and uninspiring, the chances are the interviewee will conclude that the organisation itself is not the best. Never forget that when conducting an interview you are not only trying to assess the candidate, but the candidate will also be assessing you. A professionally conducted interview will create a positive impression on candidates, not only of the interviewer, but also of the organisation. The good news is that interviewing skills can be developed through training and practice.

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About Jeff Grout

Jeff Grout was, until 2000, UK Managing Director of Robert Half International, the largest specialist recruitment consultancy in the world. A graduate of the London School of Economics, he joined Robert Half International as a Recruiter at the age of 28, after an eclectic career as a van driver, passport office administrator, cleaner, world traveller and local government town planner.

He remained with Robert Half International for almost 21 years and built up the UK operation from two offices and 12 staff into a business with a domestic turnover of £65 million, 18 offices and over 350 staff.

His accumulated expertise in all aspects of recruitment means that he is often in demand as a commentator, columnist and speaker. He has appeared on television and has participated in numerous radio programmes. Jeff collaborated with the BBC in producing an interview training video and has run seminars for a number of leading companies, including Marks & Spencer, Lloyds Bank, British Airways, Merrill Lynch, Guinness and Lever Brothers.

He is co-author of the book The Adventure Capitalists, which is based on public interviews with 12 leading entrepreneurs and aims to offer an insight into the ingredients of business success. The sequel entitled My Brilliant Career features the subjects of subsequent public interviews with high achievers from the fields of business, sport and the media. He has written the complete insider’s guide to the job market entitled Kickstart your Career, which was published in February 2002 and a book on the strategies and tactics for successful recruitment entitled Recruiting Excellence published in May 2002. He is currently conducting research for his next book on the psychology of peak performance entitled Mind Games: The Making of Champions.

Jeff is now an independent business consultant focussing on people management, team building, peak performance, recruitment and retention issues. He holds a number of corporate advisory and executive coaching appointments and also runs various management training workshops on effective selection and client relationship marketing. Jeff is also Business Manager for the England Rugby Coach, Clive Woodward.

Jeff has spoken to audiences in the UK, USA, Australia, Ireland, Belgium, France, Spain, Germany, Czech Republic, Portugal and the Netherlands.

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