Which is More Important, CV or Interview?

As a recruiter and a direct hirer, we have all seen a great , got excited, said things in our head such as “perfect!”, “oh brilliant, so and so is going to love them!” …in the hope that we can put our search to an end, and enjoy a celebratory beer with a happy client….

A telephone chat follows and things are still looking pretty positive. Then you meet them, and your plan starts falling apart! They are talking…and you are mapping out how on earth to turn this around and make them like the CV in front of you or, worst case scenario, considering starting your search from scratch! This scenario can also play the other way around. Sometimes a bad CV turns into a good interview and the candidate takes you by surprise.

Which is more important, CV or interview?

There is a discussion I found on Linked In which suggests that while most hirers consider the interview to be the most important factor in the hiring process (more important than education and CV content), all agree that having a great CV is what gets you through the door and will eventually lead to a job offer: The important thing to learn from this is that if your don’t want to disappoint your interviewer, you should put just as much work into your interview technique as you do into your CV.

This is where your recruiter’s insight can help you. If your recruitment partner meets their candidates face to face, they will get a good idea as to how the candidate compares to their paper CV. If they have met with you and you have invested the time to put together a comprehensive job spec and the consultant understands your working environment, this becomes a lot more valuable. Understanding “typical” phrases and reading between the lines are what professional recruiters are trained to do on a daily basis. Professional recruiters use a host of skills from behavioural science through to scenario, value or criteria based questioning to really get to the root of a candidate’s motivations.

Debrief with your consultant

In order to improve your search process, you should hold a comprehensive debrief with a consultant prior to deciding who to interview. This isn’t something to be afraid of. You might be concerned that the consultant will waste your time by putting all the candidates through.  This will only happen if you let it. It is better to be open and honest about your reservations, hear the consultant’s opinion and find out what they picked up in their interview process. Of course, if a recruiter doesn’t meet their candidates, they won’t be able to help you as they don’t know them. If you use recruiters that only interview by phone, or not at all, then my advice is to reconsider them as a supplier. They are clearly only in it for a quick buck and are adding no value to the process for you. Beyond this, providing feedback to your consultant after each interview is equally important, whether positive or negative. The consultant will have a different interview style to you. They could either confirm your concerns about a candidate or present you with a different viewpoint that changes your mind.

The consultant’s role in preparing the candidates

A good consultant will also prepare candidates prior to an interview with you. This isn’t done to shape the candidate, but to ensure that they convey all of their key skills well and ask the most relevant questions in the interview so that they can make an informed judgement about whether or not you are the right company for them. This briefing from the recruiter generally gives the candidtae an insight into you and your business, as well as an overview of the role and future career opportunities. A good briefing puts a candidate at ease.

Rob Yeung explains in his article in The Sunday Times that “Research shows that when candidates are put at ease before hand, the results are a better indicator of their future performance than if they are put under stress by being caught unaware.” To summarise, utilising the skills of a seasoned and experienced recruitment partner whose judgement and insight you trust will add value to the process through delivering efficiency and saving time. In addition, the recruiter is able to demonstrate why a poor CV may harbour a great candidate, and why the best looking CV might be hiding a dire candidate!