This week I have been interviewing communicators for an internal communications role. I wanted to jot down my impressions from talking to a set of talented people, share do’s and don’ts and what I look for when it comes to hiring someone for a communications job. These ideas and recommendations I believe can apply to any profile and role.
At the time of publishing this post the position is still open and the selection process is underway.
Although the role has a mix of recruitment marketing communication and internal communication duties, it will require the individual to work closely with internal stakeholders to develop, synchronize, disseminate and measure messages.
Here is what I did before conducting the interviews.
First, I did my due diligence by reading the CVs carefully to understand how the individual structured his or her profile and highlighted the key words. I made notes of the elements of experience, learning opportunities and array of roles played within the communication portfolio.
I sought writing samples from the candidates ahead of the interview since I firmly believe creating content and key messages are essentials for any communication position. I sifted through the samples to gauge the maturity of the writing and the ability to express ideas succinctly.
Surprisingly, none of the profiles I reviewed included any element of social media to a) reference their background and, b) showcase their work. When I called each of the candidates I ensured I provided the context, explained my role in the selection process and checked if they had clarity on the job description.
Strangely, only one of them had taken the trouble to find out more about the role and how it correlated to the candidate’s experience. Interestingly, one asked me for feedback at the end of the interview – which to me demonstrated interest in growing and improving. I was asked what I look for when I interview a candidate for such a profile. I mulled it over and here is what came to my mind:
It boils down to what I call the ‘3Ds’ – Is the individual driven, direct and distinguished?
Driven – is the candidate showing enough evidence of initiative and commitment?
Direct – is the candidate talking to the point? If you can’t explain your point crisply, how can you communicate widely with your internal and external stakeholders?
Distinguished – has the candidate proved his or her worth in the domain?
If you have just started your career, you may argue that you don’t have enough reasons and opportunities to make a mark. I disagree. If you are keen to make a mark and be recognized in your field of work, you should have begun early. Nothing stops you from building your portfolio of work even as a freelancer, enrolling in courses, joining a communication body, gaining experience with say, an NGO (without pay), penning articles for your local newspaper, writing a blog, hosting a photo feature, showcasing your video skills, demonstrating your leadership skills at a college event or building your personal brand online.
Now, to the questions I prefer to ask during an interview. I try to holistically gauge the candidate at the following levels:
At this point, let me share some pointers on what one should avoid when applying and interviewing for a position.
By understanding the mindset of interviewers you can approach interviews differently and prepare better. Taking a lot more interest in the organization and role you are applying for can go a long way in improving your chances of landing that job.
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