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Author: Richard Snarey

Published date: 2019/08


​A report of 1,008 senior decision-makers in UK firms hiring blue-collar workers found that under any Brexit scenario, they expect to lose, on average, 18 per cent of their blue-collar workers. Another 22 per cent expecting to lose more than a third.

In light of such concerns around hiring and retaining skilled blue-collar workers, employers must turn their attention to developing and improving their recruitment strategies and processes.

A considerable part of this is the interview stage, which is a golden opportunity to assess the quality of a candidate while at the same time inviting them into your workplace to sell the benefits of becoming an employee.

The value of a great interview

A positive interview experience that reflects well on the organisation can make the difference between a candidate accepting a job offer or declining it.

In fact, a recent survey of 1,000 employees that found 19 per cent felt mistreated in an interview, proving that employers can sometimes get this crucial stage very wrong. Of course, the overall success of an interview comes down to both the style of the interview as well as the characteristics of the interviewee and how you have to adapt your style to accommodate them. For example, are they nervous? Shy? Overly-confident?

In this article, we focus on how to manage and control a specific type of candidate: The chatty one. While every employer wants a candidate who’s willing to talk in detail about their experience, there’s a danger your interview can be hi-jacked. So, how can you stay in control and politely move the conversation on, without destroying the rapport you have with a candidate? Here, the PRS team offers our top tips to ensure a chatty interviewee provides comprehensive answers that enable you to make an informed decision (without you coming across as rude or obstructive).

1. Set limits at the beginning

Before the interview starts, you must let the candidate know how long the interview will be and what needs to be covered in that time. No one wants to be interrupted when they’re mid-flow, so it’s definitely worth setting expectations straight away that you may need to move them along if they’re taking too long to answer a question. This way, the candidate should understand that they need to provide concise answers and will hopefully not be offended if you have to step in.

2. Interrupt (in the right way)

If the candidate is talking too much, then you need to be able to step in politely. Instead of cutting them off to move onto the next question, step in by responding to something they said to take back control of the conversation. For example, “That’s really interesting because we do something similar here, and that nicely leads me onto the next question…”. If you interrupt from a place of enthusiasm, kindness and curiosity, then the candidate is less likely to feel affronted or like you’re growing bored of them. This approach requires you to remain genuinely engaged with everything the candidate is saying throughout, so it’s more like a natural conversation where interruptions are expected.

3. Body language

No, we don’t mean shifting uncomfortably or glancing at your watch while a candidate is mid-flow. Following on from the previous point, make moves as though you want to jump in to ask more or react to what the candidate is saying. This could be as simple as leaning forward, raising a hand, clearing your throat or taking a breath as though you’re about to say something.

4. Use a question

It’s tough for even the most talkative of candidates to ignore or answer no to the question: “Can I just jump in there?” or “Can I ask a question?”. You’re explicitly asking for permission to speak, leaving the ball in their court to allow you to do so. By doing this, you’re reiterating to the candidate this is a two-way conversation and you respect what they have to say. This also takes us back to the first point of demonstrating your enthusiasm and that you’re taking in what they’re saying.

5. Put your notepad down

Taking too many notes during an interview means you’re not making enough eye-contact with the candidate. If the candidate feels like you might not be properly listening to them, there’s a greater chance they’ll start to ramble. If needs be, bring someone else into the interview to take notes so that you can properly engage with the candidate at all times. Also, if you make the candidate wait for you to finish scribbling after each question, then chances are they’ll try to fill the uncomfortable silence.

What if you’ve got a tendency to talk too much?

It’s not just candidates who can be Chatty Cathy’s in an interview environment. After all, you’re likely to have a lot to tell them about the business and the role. While it’s great to give the candidate a decent insight into the company, there’s a danger you might come away from the interview lacking knowledge on their skills, experience and suitability.

Planning is key in this scenario. Ensure you have a list of questions you need to get through and a set time to do it. Remember, you don’t know whether the candidate needs to be somewhere afterwards, so it’s rude to assume it’s okay for the interview to run over the allocated time. Taking another employee into the interview to ensure you stick to the script and allow the candidate to get a word in can be useful. This can also keep you mindful about the type of information you share about the company.

Also, do keep in mind that you don’t want to overwhelm the candidate with lots of information about different people or projects going on within the business. It’s unlikely they’ll be able to remember too much at this stage anyway.

Employing such techniques without compromising rapport takes practice, but it’s worth the investment of time and effort to ensure you cover everything you need in the most efficient manner. However, if you’re failing to control talkative candidates after diligently applying these approaches, perhaps they’re not the right person for your business.

For more tips on conducting effective blue-collar interviews that ensure you secure the best talent, PRS can help. Speak with the PRS team, and download our infographic Great Hiring Tips for the Blue Collar Recruiter today. It’s what hiring personnel in the know about top interview tactics all do.