This week you may have heard that a university graduate in the UK was left feeling “humiliated” after being asked to dance during a group interview at electronics store Currys in Cardiff. Currys have since apologised and have also admitted that the dance segment of the interview had been a mistake and was not part of its official recruitment processes. Those who held the interview are currently being investigated.

I frequently provide advice and guidance to candidates on attending interviews and have heard many horror stories. My first reaction to the Currys story was one of indifference and upon reading the further story from another Currys applicant (also in Cardiff), it seems the dancing may have been used more as an ‘ice-breaker’ rather than a part of the formal selection process.

So what were Currys thinking when they decided to introduce dancing to the interview process? Lottie Dexter, who founded the campaign group Million Jobs, which lobbies on behalf of unemployed young people, told the BBC that “more and more companies were using ‘more innovative’ ways to interview people.” She also said that “in fairness, I think employers want to make the interviews fun. But they often forget that people going for jobs can be really insecure and it’s a huge deal for them. They want to come across at their best.”

This is not just true for young people looking for work; interview techniques are constantly changing and the days of sitting in an interview and being assessed by a panel isn’t the norm anymore. Interview processes can be anything from meeting 2 people to 20 people, they could be more relaxed or more formal changing from one to the other. Organisations are becoming more aware that the recruitment process is a two way street and an opportunity for them to impress and therefore attract the very best candidates. So how do you navigate your way around all of this in a competitive market?

A key objective in the interview process will be to answer “can the person do the job in hand?” and “have they demonstrated this in the interview?” But it goes beyond that. More importantly, organisations want to know they have the right culture fit and this is not necessarily something you gauge just by what people say; it’s how they act or react.

Earlier this year, Heineken released a You Tube video called the ‘The Candidate’ where applicants for the Event and Sponsorship Internship were suddenly part of an impromptu role play where they found themselves in various situations such as a fire alarm going off and a manager keeling over in front of them. I’m sure they weren’t made aware that this would happen but they coped and Heineken’s newest intern was informed of his position at the Champion’s League Final – a job offer I’m sure the successful candidate Guy Luchting will never forget!!!

And surely the point in an interview is to take you out of your comfort zone and see how potential employees cope under pressure because at some point in a job, whether it’s working as a Sales Assistant or a HR Director, you’re going to have to think on your feet, make a quick decision or deal with a difficult situation.

We also know that a candidate’s expertise and experience on paper can tick all of the boxes but it’s how this experience or knowledge is delivered day-to-day in the role that matters.
Sometimes, providing too much information on the interview questions/process opens up the opportunity to construct and memorise the perfect answer. On the other hand, providing no information at all and expecting someone to dance to the Chicken Song when it clearly isn’t relevant to the role and unprofessional in the circumstances, means potentially dis-engaging the ideal candidate.

More recently Nev Wilshire, in the BBC Three documentary ‘The Call Centre’, took a potential recruit into the actual call centre and asked the team – “should we take her on?” a big cheer came up and she was hired – no interview, no competency based questions nothing….

So, what can we learn from the likes of Currys, Heineken and Nev Wilshire? In a market of high unemployment and a desire for organisations to make interviews interesting and engaging, the focus needs to be on ensuring you attract, engage and hire the right person/people for the role in a way that best reflects the ethos, values and reputation of the organisation.

Kerry White is a Consultant in our Manchester office and would choose to dance gangnam style!?

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