Job interview notes are important for a simple reason. Often a CV and a note is the first point of contact between the client and the candidate’s profile. Whether the impression is positive or negative may depend on them.
It is boring to be a recruiter. At least, such an opinion often goes around between people who have only met with a recruiter when they have applied for a job themselves. Or even worse, they never had anything to do with this position at all, because in the initial interview they were interviewed by a person who asked them the horrible question: ‘What will your career look like in ten years’ time?’
Whereas being a recruiter is like juggling ten balls with an extra pair of hands to coordinate. Additionally, at least one of these balls is on fire.
One of the main responsibilities (or balls) of a recruiter is to create job interview notes after interviews with candidates. However, to ensure that the notes make sense, we first try to understand the needs of our clients. We then come up with specific questions, matched to the position. These questions are then asked to the candidates during an initial interview. This kind of interview usually lasts between twenty minutes and an hour. Subsequently, we take notes based on the interview. The reason we do this is to ensure that our clients can select candidates with the right qualifications right from the outset. Depending on many factors, notes can be short and substantial or long and more detailed.
At the beginning of my career, I favoured longer job interview notes. My personal record is almost two pages of A4 from a conversation with a developer with two years’ experience, and the client with whom I worked at that time was very satisfied with the notes. As time passed, I have noticed that other customers rarely refer to the information in the memo in their weekly summaries, and when they started asking about things that were there, I was sure that some people did not read them at all. The rest of the Humeo Team also noticed this in their projects, so we decided to analyse the situation. Obviously, the most evident reason for not reading the notes is the lack of time. Usually we cooperate with internal recruiters, who are responsible for multiple processes at the same time. Whereas for managers, the recruitment is an additional duty for which they usually do not have enough capacity anymore, which is perfectly understandable.
Many different ideas have been put forward to solve this problem: from combining notes with the candidates’ CV files to changing the whole structure of the note. When choosing the latter option of taking notes, I had to think about how to shorten it and make it more transparent, without cutting the content and creating the equivalent sentences. A simple change, inspired by an interview template that I got from one of my clients, was definitely a good idea. This template featured:
As I decided to extend these points, more questions were added from myself and from the client. As a result, the note always contains important information, and if some of it is unnecessary, the customer can easily find the parts that are of interest to him (thanks to bullet points).
Interview notes are helpful when made according to the needs of the client, not the recruiter. Not everyone has time to go through the wall of the text that informs about the most difficult project in which the candidate has participated. Yet, by the way, such information can say a lot about his skills. On the other side, an overly short note on an adhesive card may not be useful and the candidate will have to go through the same recruitment phase again, which is obviously a waste of time for everyone.The first meeting with the person responsible for recruiting at the client’s site is a good time to talk about the length, form and type of information contained in the note. He should then speak frankly about his expectations. Theoretically, it is no big deal, but for the most part, it is enough for each side to be satisfied with the cooperation afterwards. This is exactly how we work at Humeo.
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