Going beyond the interview

In among all of the other craziness of recent weeks, I’ve also had to recruit to a vacancy in the team.

We had more than 70 applications for the post and going through them reinforced the points that I made in this piece on Medium in 2018.

This time I did something that I haven’t always done, and that was set a written exercise.

As event managers, we need to work under pressure, make quick decisions and solve problems, and so an unannounced written exercise in the last 15 minutes of an interview seemed a good way to test these skills, albeit in lab conditions.

The exercise I set was a scenario with three emails relating to a hypothetical event, and asking the shortlisted candidates to write a) what their considerations would be in dealing with this issue and b) a response email.

In this way, I could get some sense in real time of:

  • working under pressure
  • their language skills, as the emails were in French and English
  • their attention to detail, as I introduced a few little traps, such as one email where it wasn’t clear if it came from a man or a woman
  • their problem solving skills.

It worked really well – a candidate whose CV was in beautiful English wasn’t nearly as strong in the written exercise. All but one fell into the trap I had set regarding how to address the ungendered correspondent. Some showed flexibility and problem-solving in addressing the issues in the letter whereas others went for the easy/obvious line.

All in all, it’s something I would turn to again – though it did require quite a bit of creativity from me to devise an exercise that would test all these things!

Photo by eleni koureas on Unsplash

Published by Antonia

I'm a British citizen and European Union offical, who lives in Brussels again after 6 years in London and 8 in Melbourne. I went to the London School of Economics and University of Melbourne. In 2008 I took part in the Eisenhower Fellowship Multination Programme, the subject of 3 of my blogs. You can find me on Twitter as @antoniamochan or @antoniam

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