Sunday, 27 April 2008

The art of interviewing

There are squillions of articles online and books about interviewing skills and techniques aimed at candidates with the aim of securing a new job role. Advice on everything from sample interview questions to advice on how to dress and behave.

But what about from the other side of the desk?

Interviewing is after all a two way process. As a candidate you can easily forget who the other people are in the equation.

Since I am about to sit on an interview panel, this issue is intriguing me. I wonder to myself if I will behave to type and be either an absentee, a buddy, an inquisitor, a laser beam or the shotgun interviewer or even a chatty, nosy, inexperienced, by-the-book or interrogation interviewer. Will I do a good enough job?

Interviewing is an art and a science. It involves so many variables:

Listening + Personal Connection + Focus on job and Competencies + Intuition + Skill + Situation + Verbal and Non-verbal cues

I feel a weight on my shoulders knowing that:

  • The average cost of filling a vacancy in 2007 has been calculated as being between £4333 and £7750

  • Bad recruiting decisions result in less productivity, additional training and development costs, wasted time and effort and impacts on team culture and motivation levels.

  • To pays to recruit well since it is clearly costly to business to recruit. According to Gregory Smith, research shows that those organizations that spend more time recruiting high-caliber people earn 22% higher return to shareholders than their industry peers.

Interviewing is not as easy it looks. So to help me and anyone else who is interviewing for the first time, the following resources might be useful:

As with many things in life, it comes down to preparation and planning along with a level of flexibility and openness on the day.

Wish me luck!

Saturday, 26 April 2008

"I have rarely seen a place that so attracted my fancy"

These are the words of Charles Dickens writing to his friend, the actor manager, William Charles Macready, who retired to live in Cheltenham's Wellington Square and whom Dickens visited on several occasions during the 1860s.

I could not agree with Dickens more. Cheltenham is beautiful. It is home to one of the best, most complete examples of Regency architecture in England and it personfies the image of the traditional English town. I'm not an architect and don't have much of an eye, but I defy anyone to say that Cheltenham is not in harmony with its surroundings.

The regency architecture style dates from the early 19th century when George IV was still Prince Regent. The style is typified by elegence and classical design. Think terraces and crescents, wrought iron balconies, bow windows and stucco facades.

I will be going to Cheltenham Spa on Sunday and even the thought of such a beautiful town lifts my spirit. I am minded to think about Alain de Botton and his book "The Architecture of Happiness" where he writes eloquently about architecture's potential to make us realise how full potential as human beings. Architects seek beauty but all also represent ideals, beliefs and values and this is what draws people to look at buildings and see what they represent of ourselves and the world around us - whether making us despondent or uplifted in spirit.
I was fortunate to be in Cheltenham last year for the annual Literature Festival and bought David Dimbleby's book, which accompany's the BBC TV series, "How we Built Britain" - His premise is that we are reflected in our buildings - whether fearless, herioc, innovative, industrious, eccentric, aspirational or functional. Through the book and the series we are taken on a popular history of Britain, via some well known and less well known British architecture across the centuries.

(As an aside, David Dimbleby is possibly another subject for a blog in himself representing a comforting vision of Britishness. Indeed, someone has already got there ahead of me in their "How We Built Britain Fansite").

So I'd recommend anyone if they have the chance to visit Cheltenham at least once in their lives and you can find out more about the town from