Job interviews can be nerve-wracking at the best of times, so imagine the horror of a British university graduate when he was asked to dance to the music of popular electronic group Daft Punk when interviewing for a job at an electronics store.
Rather than a traditional sit-down interview, Alan Bacon’s trial at Currys in Cardiff turned into something like a scene from British comedy The Office.
While the story is amusing, it represents a popular problem for employers – how do you conduct an interview to find the best employee?
Companies such as Google are well-known for their quirky interview techniques. But pb Human Capital director Brendon Booth says when changing things up, businesses need to be careful.
“In a relaxed environment you get better responses,” he says. “An unnatural, uncomfortable environment is not what you want to create in an interview.”
Bacon told the BBC he and the other candidates were split into two groups and told to choreograph and perform a dance routine, making Bacon “embarrassed and uncomfortable”.
“All professionalism went out of the window. I’d spent the past week researching the company and looking forward to being able to express myself and talk about what I love doing.”
Currys has since apologised to the job applicants and said the store did not follow official recruitment policy.
Finding employees who fit into company culture is a challenge for any business, but there are certain dos and don’ts for businesses to follow in order to find the best staff.
Booth spoke to SmartCompany about how to conduct an effective job interview.
1. Be flexible
Booth says it’s great to come in prepared with questions, but sometimes it’s best to follow the interview’s natural course.
“It’s kind of like an interview a journalist would conduct,” he says.
“My tip is to keep the interview flexible, rather than to just work from a set of structured questions. Be able to follow the interview where it naturally goes and actually actively listen to the responses the interviewee is giving,” he says.
2. Create a relaxed environment
Booth says there is no point trying to make the interviewee uncomfortable.
“You want it to be like the day-to-day life in the office to see if the candidate will fit in. An interview is an articifcal process, so minimise how overthought it feels. Personally, I’m not a fan of panel interviews,” he says.
Booth says it’s fine to try something different like Currys, but businesses should always keep in mind the welfare of the interviewee.
3. Be open
Booth says it’s fine to ask behaviour interview questions to see how a candidate would handle certain situations, but recommends not being too narrow.
“Nothing for me replaces just letting the person talk,” he says.
“You learn more by opening up the forum to the interviewee. If you ask a behavioural question, they’ll just answer to the question, but if you let them talk you’ll get a much more in-depth response,” he says.
4. Personality tests
Booth says psychometric testing can be a good way for managers to understand how to manage their employees, but the results aren’t the be all and end all.
“I have a background in psychology, but I don’t rate them highly.
“Personality tests are good for the interviewer to understand possible issues, but they should never be used as a decision maker and this happens a lot,” he says.
5. Look for a variety of experience
Booth says the best employees are often people who are well-rounded individuals with many interests as they are often more motivated and energetic.
“I look for people with a variety of experience. I look for people who have done entrepreneurial things or have a healthy business interest.
“When you’re looking at someone’s CV, some of the interesting things are what people do outside of work. You want to see if people have a healthy set of interests outside of the office,” he says.