Insider’s View: Interview techniques 3.0; or how companies test candidates from the moment they apply


In a recent blog post, The Cooper Review discussed Tech Giants Google, Amazon and Facebook’s secrets to hiring the best people. As someone who has placed hundreds of people in these companies over the years, I have witnessed their approaches change somewhat.KEEP CALM

Most companies aren’t looking for the smartest, or even the most technically capable candidates. They are looking for the candidates who will best fit their company; they often favour ability over experience! In fast-paced companies, they want people who can think of their feet and adapt to different questions, quickly. And it is paramount to be able to demonstrate this with examples in any interview situation. This is why interview preparation cannot be underestimated. Employers want to see that candidates do not just want a job, they want THIS job.

Candidates need to prepare for any scenario and do extensive background search, not only on the company but on what their mentality and corporate responsibilities and mind frame entail. Understanding their business, how they make money, what’s happening (in the news) with the company and a genuine interest in what the job involves; asking insightful questions about the day to day elements of the role, the challenges they face and even what the interviewer likes most about their own job can help show how ready the candidate is and how fitting their profile is.

In the past, it was not uncommon for technology companies to ask questions such as “how many cows in Canada” or “how many golf balls could you fit into a Mini Cooper”. These were designed to put candidates on the spot and see first-hand how they would adapt to problem-solving a situation, where they have no prior knowledge or were not prepared for.

Nowadays there are many interview situations where candidates are called early/late, the interviewer changes, the interview is rescheduled or the same question is asked over and over again. Indeed, in a fast-paced and changeable company, they need people who can react to this and not get frustrated with change.

Overall it is important to try and understand the culture of the company you are applying with and be sure it is right for you. Part of our role as consultants is to understand our client – the hiring manager, and to try to match this with our candidates’ relevant experience rather than just their CV.

Stephen Harrington is Executive Connections’ Head of Compliance & Regulatory Recruitment. He has 18+ years of experience in multiple sectors including: Compliance, Legal, Financial Services, Technology, Sales and Marketing.