Episode 21 – Part 2: Getting the most out of your interview process with Chris Litras, Deverell Smith

In this second part of the episode, we’re discussing how you can get the most out of your interview process. 

In Episode 21 we are speaking to Chris Litras, Director of Development and Construction and Deverell Smith recruitment.

Chris has over 12 years of experience in the recruitment industry across both transport, development and construction.


In part two, we discuss:

😄 Prioritising your candidate experience to boost your interview process

👂 Setting expectations properly

📝 Planning your interview questions

🙋 Questions to ask in an interview

🥸 The importance of preparing as a candidate



The following transcript is autogenerated so may contain errors.


Matt Nally 

I suppose moving on, then one of the key parts of recruitment process is interviews. Be great to understand what from your experience makes a good? Well, I suppose two things. One, what makes a good interview, generally, but also what makes a good interview process? Yeah, how long should it be? How many interviews? Should there be all that type of stuff? Yeah. Okay. So there’s a few things in there. So I suppose firstly, what makes a good interview process? What should it look like? How long should it be?


Chris Litras  37:38

What makes a good interview process? I think, how long should it be should be appropriate to the level of role you’d have to Senior High, clearly there’s going to be more more stages, if it’s a graduate role, there might be one stage or there might be a an assessment centre. So it’s always different. Guess what makes a bad interview, it’s probably better to rule out what makes it bad, and then talk about the good, what makes a bad interview is if a candidate comes out of the experience, you know, with a lesser opinion of the company than when they went in. And that always boils down to the person, I for one thing most candidates buy into the person before the role. So or need to buy into the person for the role. So what makes a good experiences that candidate buys into the hiring manager, the person that they meet that person is, is the window to that company. And you know, it doesn’t matter how great the opportunity is, if the candidate does not buy into that person sat across across the table or on that date on a team school, they’re probably not going to take the job, they need to be inspired. And that person needs to demonstrate represent the business in the best possible light. So I think that that, first and foremost is really key thing. In terms of the wider process, information is key. And setting expectations from the outset is really valuable. Let’s say for example, a candidate is thinking it’s going to be a two stage process, one of them being a formal one, the second one being slightly more informal, or the other way around. If after the second interview, it goes to a third you stand the risk of disengaging that candidate. Yeah, or if they throw in an exercise in between the interviews, it may disengage the candidate. As long as necessarily a bad thing, you know, the exercise might be something to test the competency around a certain you know, set of tasks. If it’s something that’s that’s transparent, upfront and shared, to complete different learning curve or so, the more curveballs in an interview process, are just going to make the process more difficult. It’s like you know, when you’re buying a house, the more transactions there are in a chain in the chain, the less chances there are of one transaction successful in completing is the same for the recruitment process, you know, the more stages there are, the more you’re really going to weed out candidates for this skill level, or you know their motivations and having the right motivations to come across. But at the same time, it’s only appropriate if you communicate that to the candidate upfront. And set in time skills and expectations is really the only thing that we can control. If the candidates work for the job, they’re right for the job. If they’re not, that’s absolutely fine. That’s why we do interviews. But in order to make the process as smooth as possible, you just really need to be clear and say we’re going to do so whenever we do that. In order to make the process as smooth as possible, you need to be really clear and do what you’re going to say.


Matt Nally  40:45

Yeah, I suppose it ties back to what you said earlier, which is, it’s a signifier to the candidate as to what working there might be like, so if he keeps shoving in curveballs and changing what the process is, versus what you’ve suggested, it does suggest that working working there could be complex, and things could just keep changing. And goalposts could keep changing. Yeah.


Chris Litras  41:06

Also, plan for the interview, don’t just be complacent walk in, you know, as a hiring manager, don’t don’t walk into an interview. And freestyling have a plan of what you’re going to talk about, and what you’re going to ask, have a bit of a balance, you know, to talk about the candidate and ask them about their CV and their experiences. And then talk about the, you know, the company and the role. But don’t leave one of those out, we see that all the time. Candidate goes for an interview, and all the client talks about is the company and then the interview is over. Yeah, so we say You know what, so what did they ask you? They’re not not not much, okay, well, then you didn’t get the opportunity to demonstrate yourself, and therefore see if you were a good fit for the role. Equally, if a client comes in, ask lots of questions, but doesn’t really talk about that, you know, that’s the clients opportunity to sell the company and the job. And, again, we hear about this all the time. It’s interesting that it is very interesting to say, you know, we make a point of trying our best to educate our clients on how to interview. Make sure you don’t miss out those key elements. Because more often than not nowadays, the interviews for candidates into the company, you’re gone are the days where, you know, the candidate should be lucky to work for a company, as you know, times have changed.


Matt Nally  42:23

I think they’re good questions you can ask. And it obviously, does depend on role and so on. But they they’re good questions that you can ask to understand the fit of a candidate?


Chris Litras  42:32

Yeah, I think so. I think good questions are open questions, and competency based questions. And, you know, demonstrate using examples. Yeah, that is going to promote a wide open conversation, rather than a tick box exercise going, can you do this? Are you going to do that yesterday, yesterday?


Matt Nally  42:55

Yeah, cuz I think it’s the years ago, but I met when I had been through interviews, and one of the worst things I thought was when you get asked questions, but there’s no context to it. And then there’s just met by silence. And I don’t actually understand from your question, what you’re asking me to demonstrate. Yeah. Therefore, I can’t really answer it in a way that’s going to help you make a decision on me.


Chris Litras  43:16

That’s a shame, isn’t it? Yes. lost opportunity


Matt Nally  43:19

completely, completely. I think on the flip side, as a candidate there, there are good questions you can ask because I think it has a perception that you should always ask questions at the end of the you know, during the interview, I get that you want to be understanding how the how the role will work for you. How does the company work for you, will fit for you and lots of stuff. But, but I think often it can be met with you know, sort of just a generic type of, you know, when will I hear next, that type of thing? And they’re good questions, you can ask them the candidate perspective to get more out of an interview, and to show that you’ve actually understood the role or, you know, what you’re applying for?


Chris Litras  43:59

Yeah, I think so. I mean, you’re right, absolutely. Always ask questions as a candidate, because it’s just shows intent and taking an interest. Very hard to say which questions are good, but I think questions to ask about the next steps and get some feedback there. And then, you know, is there anything that, you know, you’d like to find out about me that you haven’t asked yet so far? You know, is there any initial feedback, you know, what are your thoughts? What are the next steps? But also just just being inquisitive about things that they haven’t asked? Because I think, you know, how do you impress someone who’s interviewing you? Or maybe catch them off guard might be a good way. So don’t ask generic questions. would be my advice. I’d certainly say if I if I was in an interview, I’d want to ask some questions that leave them with a lasting impression, as opposed to covering the basics. Yeah, I think you know, most candidates Let’s can cover the basics by getting information online now. Yeah, so asking questions that are different. Other things that can set them apart?


Matt Nally  45:12

Yeah, that’s a that’s a fair point. Because it’s and I think it shows from a candidates perspective that you have put the effort into understanding that it’s the right role rather than it’s just another process you’re going through and hope of a salary at the end of it. So yeah, there any any horror stories you’ve had, over the years from either side, that the sort of things that could easily have been avoided? Oh, yes.


Chris Litras  45:36

Lindsay. silly things, you know, the client, the client is running late, or the candidates run late, but no communication as to why. Or, you know, they could have probably said something a bit sooner, but they’ve left at the last minute, candidates drop out, unreliable, don’t turn up turn into after confirming, you know, these are the horror stories for the recruiter, and in horror stories for the clients. You know, when a candidate turns up in the unprepared and they’re not presenting themselves in the best way, it’s probably a huge bugbear. You know, it was a waste


Matt Nally  46:14

of time, then isn’t it?


Chris Litras  46:16

It’s a waste of time. Yeah. If you’re working with a good recruiter, they should have prepared the candidate with, you know, the company overview the person that they’re meeting, and what the role entails. If it’s a standard competency based interviews, they should interview there should have also prepared the candidate with some examples and some key achievements and some highlights about their work that they can share with the company. And not just, you know, sell it with jazz hands. But but do it in part of the conversation. And in line with what the questions are being asked, you know, have examples. But I think, you know, maybe these aren’t horror stories, per se. But, you know, that is the majority of feedback that we get as to why the candidate may not be offered a role. It’s lack of preparation, you know, didn’t ask answer in a way that provided enough examples didn’t expand where they should have expanded. But yeah, I mean, I could tell you about the majority of horror cases just being canister just don’t turn up. Don’t know where they are. Don’t know why. You don’t hear from them.


Matt Nally  47:28

But waste of time. It’s bizarre when people ghost like that, isn’t it? It’s a sort of, you know, you’ve put so much time and effort into that point. Why not? Just, you know, be curious. Yeah.


Chris Litras  47:37

It’s like, it’s really odd. It’s like the eternal question. As for Chris, it’s like, but how surely the anxiety will be too much for you to just go? Why don’t you just can’t make it?


Matt Nally  47:48

Yeah, yeah, then just go silent? We’ll never know. Yeah, it’s I’ve read, I think I suppose that the key thing to the interview process, then is just prep from both both the customer, customers a candidate side and hire aside is, is prep, and we get that right, then everyone can get more out of the process.


Chris Litras  48:04

Yeah, preparation is key. And just anything that makes it a smooth process. And I think that sets expectations. And I think that that eliminates surprises. And that is from you know, taking the brief to doing the interviews, and later interviews, and then the offer presenting the offer to the candidate. And you know, negotiating between the candidate, the client, you know, for acceptance and onboarding. And even when they start, you don’t want surprises to you. No one wants, no one wants a surprise in this process. So, you know, we have to do our best and go over and above in order to give them all the information, and then hope that that’s enough. So that if there is anything that’s slightly different, what is acceptable?

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