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What do the experts look for when they recruit?

Updated: 14 Apr 2016
Recruiters place thousands of people in new jobs every year, so their insight on how they make hiring decisions for their own business can help you stand out in your next interview.
According to recruiting experts Hays, while being confident, well prepared and in possession of the right skills, qualifications and experience are necessary requirements, they may not be enough to help you stand out from other similarly qualified candidates in a crowded marketplace. To land the job, you need to convince the interviewer how you will bring value and success to their organisation and how you are a collaborative team player with the right cultural fit.
“Over the last year I’ve seen a significant increase in the appetite for people to change jobs, coupled with employers creating new jobs,” says Alistair Cox, CEO of Hays, who explores this issue in his latest LinkedIn Influencer blog. “So competition for roles in many sectors is getting tougher while at the same time competition for talent is also increasing.
“If you are looking at landing your dream job in this increasingly competitive environment, a critical part of the process will be the job interview. We all know the basics for interview preparation, so how do you shift from being a good candidate to being a great candidate in a crowded market?”

According to Alistair, when he recently interviewed candidates for a senior management role, he worked out who was the exceptional candidate by keeping three simple questions in the back of his mind. They were:
1) Would I enjoy working with you?
“The candidate will fill a crucial role on my management team,” says Alistair. “We will work long hours together. I need to rely 100% on this person. Unless I’d really enjoy working with them, and vice versa, we may both underperform. Can you prepare for this at interview? Maybe not. However, as many recruitment failures stem from a cultural mismatch between individual and organisation, you need to give your interviewer enough insight into your character to assess whether you have the humour, resilience, adaptability, initiative, ambition, passion and integrity to work well together.”

2) Would you work well with the team?
“In this role I didn’t want a high achiever who would work solely for their own benefit. I wanted collaborative people who have the best outcome for the team in mind. When preparing for an interview, think of how you have created effective and valuable working relationships. Share instances where you have put aside personal ambition for the benefit of the wider team.”

3) Will you help make my firm succeed?
“In one interview, a candidate asked me questions about a challenging industry issue we face, and in discussion, they outlined a clever solution. That was impressive and stood out. Similarly, I want to hear specifically what they had done to solve problems and deliver successful results in their previous roles. I don’t want people who will just do their job; I want people that consistently make a positive difference.”
While Alistair admits that all of the short-listed candidates could have done the job, it was these three questions that helped him decide which one would make the biggest difference and fit the best with the business. “That’s how one individual looked great in a very good pool of candidates,” he said.


Note to Editors
Hays plc (the "Group") is a leading global professional recruiting group. The Group is the expert at recruiting qualified, professional and skilled people worldwide, being the market leader in the UK and Asia Pacific and one of the market leaders in Continental Europe and Latin America. The Group operates across the private and public sectors, dealing in permanent positions, contract roles and temporary assignments. As at 31 December 2013 the Group employed 7,979 staff operating from 240 offices in 33 countries across 20 specialisms. For the year ended 30 June 2013:
  • the Group reported net fees of £719 million and operating profit (pre-exceptional items) of £125.5 million;
  • the Group placed around 53,000 candidates into permanent jobs and around 182,000 people into temporary assignments;
  • 29% of Group net fees were generated in Asia Pacific, 40% in Continental Europe & RoW (CERoW) and 31% in the United Kingdom & Ireland;
  • the temporary placement business represented 59% of net fees and the permanent placement business represented 41% of net fees;
  • Hays operates in the following countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Chile, China, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UAE, the UK and the USA