Maxwell Stephens

The Value of an Effective Candidate Briefing

judging a candidates social skills

The Value of an Effective Candidate Briefing

When a candidate walks into an interview they are often stepping into the unknown.

What more can be done, by recruitment consultancies such as Maxwell Stephens, to ensure that the candidate is entering the room fully briefed to talk about a role for which they are ideally suited? In today’s tough job market, many candidates are desperate for employment. Some do ignore warnings regarding their suitability for a post and try to wing it during an interview. Other candidates will come fully prepared to discuss the experience they have that’s directly relevant to the position. There is a vast difference between these two scenarios and their likely outcome.


In recruitment, once size does not fit all

We live in a world of automated emails. Like most industries, recruitment has been revolutionised by the use of the internet. It makes sense to offer candidates and employers the convenience of applying and submitting their details online. But no matter how efficient your software, it’s the function of the human being that makes the difference. Conversations reveal so much more than email. It’s not enough to hand out generic information and let the candidate decide if a role is right for them or not. What are the expectations of the employer? What are the hopes of the candidate? An assumption of knowledge is a dangerous thing. What is obvious to some is not apparent to others. The role of the a recruitment consultant is to uncover the facts and ensure they are fully understood by both parties. Does the candidate have the relevant experience and skills to live up to the expectations of the employer? If not, then you’re setting the candidate up to fail.


The duty of the recruitment consultancy

Is enough attention paid to evaluating the attributes of the candidate and matching them to the job requirements? Or do some recruiters hope that certain discrepancies will iron themselves out if just enough points tally. These are difficult times and a candidate keen to secure a post may apply for a job for which they’re not entirely suited, telling themselves they’ll be able to adapt to any environment. In these cases, it’s essential for a recruitment consultant to investigate an organisation and their job proposal thoroughly before briefing a potential candidate. Only then can they judge fairly if the candidate has the skills and character traits required. It’s as necessary to find out about the day-to-day running of a department as it is to find out about a company’s commercial strength.


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The nitty-gritty

It’s a company’s local workplace practices that have a bigger impact on a candidate’s suitability than their international corporate practices. Obviously, there are only so many personal facts a recruitment consultant can obtain from an employer. However, basic statistics can help a possible candidate to evaluate if a situation is right for them. Will they be working in a busy open plan office with over 50 other staff? Or will they be sharing a small office for eight hours with just one other person? How many staff does the business currently employ? What’s the department structure and the individual’s reporting line?


Rather than just giving a candidate a link to the company website and suggesting they do their own research, it’s the responsibility of the consultant to delve a little deeper. Certainly, a serious candidate would make their own enquiries, and study any material available on the organisation. Nevertheless, a consultant should be able to provide those intimate details that can’t be gleaned from a corporation’s promotional literature.


What is the prevailing culture of the company, the personality traits of the management team, and the group’s present client infrastructure? Is a department made up of staff of similar ages and backgrounds or does the organisation boast a wide-ranging mix of people? Has the interviewer mentioned their hobbies? The personal touch can make all the difference, in that it enables the interviewee to break the ice with a conversation opener.


A recruiter should be ready to answer any questions a candidate may throw at them or at least point them in the right direction to seek out the facts themselves. How a candidate uses this information is down to their own initiative. The important thing is they’ve been armed with this knowledge. In summary, it’s the quality of information that makes the difference rather than the quantity. Sometimes, reading a sixty-page report on the company’s latest financial results is not nearly as helpful as finding out that the boss is a Manchester United fan.


Peter Forshaw, Managing Director, Maxwell Stephens

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