Being Human: How the Interview Process is Evolving

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Posting date: 10/25/2018 8:28 AM
Should we make our interview processes more like a talent show? That’s what a job centre in France thought when they introduced ‘This Is The Job’, an interview more in the style of ‘The Voice’ than a traditional Q&A session. Complete with spinning chairs and buzzers, this ‘technique’ has been swiftly brought to an end following public outcry. 

But whilst it might not be the best idea to base the recruitment process on a popular TV show (let’s not use ‘Bodyguard’ as an inspiration for problem-solving tasks), we are seeing an evolution in how interviews are conducted. Here’s a look at some of the most popular trends we’re seeing businesses apply to their recruitment processes. 

Cultivating a culture 


Perhaps the most significant change we’re seeing at the moment is the increased prominence placed on cultural fit. No longer an afterthought, this is now a make or break factor for most employers. 

Interview panels are looking for a candidate’s personality to come through when they discuss previous projects they’ve worked on. They’re keen to know that they can explain their findings to a wider audience. This includes being open about where they can improve and showing a level of humility. We’ve seen candidates rejected for being overly-defensive when receiving critiques of their technical work. 

Alongside this, businesses are adapting their interviewing techniques to reflect this more human approach. First-round telephone interviews are being replaced by video calls, offering an experience closer to face-to-face. Agencies, in particular, are taking interviews out of the office and into coffee shops, with the ambition of creating a more social interaction. 

All of these changes should mean that both businesses and candidates have a better understanding of what they’re signing up for before an offer is made or accepted. 

Ironing out the creases 


Given the fast pace of working life, finding time to dedicate to an interview process is a challenge for businesses and candidates alike. Fortunately, we’re seeing processes streamlined. 

Whereas we had seen a trend for employers sending out time-consuming tasks to thoroughly test people’s abilities, the amount time required led to delayed processes and candidates dropping out. As a result, businesses are now including technical screenings within the interview itself, alongside short demos, presentations of work and online coding sessions. 

By keeping things simple, we’re now seeing less candidate drop off early in the process. This, alongside combining technical and competency questions, has resulted in a more concentrated, yet just as detailed, way of assessing an applicant’s suitability for a role. 

Getting hands on


Employers have always looked for someone who can walk the walk, as well as talk the talk. Now they’re taking matters into their own hands by requiring candidates to react to real world examples. Most commonly, we’re seeing these take the form of case studies, generally falling into one of two categories:

  • Quantitative, where a relevant business situation and data are provided and need to be addressed. 
  • Conceptual, where there are no figures, and the interviewer is trying to gain an insight into the candidate’s approach and thought processes.

On top of this, we’re beginning to see new methods introduced that test applicants even further. Job Auditions are becoming an increasingly popular way of assessing how well a candidate can perform in a real-world situation. There’s even talk of introducing Virtual Reality to push this idea even further within a controlled simulation. 

Regardless of what the future may hold, companies are clearer than ever with what they’re looking for in the interview process. Don’t be surprised if we continue to see innovations that offer more depth into a candidate’s true behaviour, personality and working styles. 

If you’re on the lookout for a new role, we can support and guide you through the interviewing process. We have a variety of roles in both Junior and Senior positions, both Contract and Permanent. 

Take a look at our latest roles or get in touch with one of our expert consultants to see how we can help you progress you career. 

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Why A Good Work-Life Balance Is Better for Business

Contrary to American sitcoms, work life balance isn’t about sitting in coffee shops contemplating life and complaining about work. However, there are plenty of jobs where you can work from or in a coffee shop. The rise of virtual, remote, and contractual roles has contributed to the demand for work life balance. But, sometimes, in our tech-led world, where business can follow us anywhere, the balance becomes more about setting boundaries. It’s about putting down our mobile phones, closing our laptops, and dipping our toes into other waters.  Where Does Your Country Fit on the Work-Life Balance Scale? European countries have been leading the way with work-life balance for some time, with the Netherlands topping the list at number one. With the UK sitting at number 29 out of the 38 countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), what’s tipping the scales? 13% of British employees work 50 or more hours per week versus 0.5% of people in the Netherlands work those long hours. The average Brit is therefore only setting aside 14.9 hours for leisure and personal care (including eating and sleeping) a day versus those in the Netherlands who dedicate 15.9 hours. Countries in the Nordics work a maximum of 48-hours per week. However, the reality is significantly lower, with the Finnish working an average of 36.2 hours a week, the Swedes 35.9 hours, Norwegians at 34 hours, and the Danes just 32 hours.Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Iceland have become renowned for fostering optimal work-life balance. But, though the Netherlands sits at the number one spot on the OECD, the Danes top the list as the happiest in the world. The Danish welfare model, characterised by quality of life and a good work-life balance offers: Flexible working conditions and social support networks, including maternity leave and childcare facilities. A high degree of flexibility at work – often including adaptable start times and the ability to work from home. Lunch breaks are often at a designated time each day, enabling colleagues to interact, eat together, and get away from their desks. There is a minimum 5 weeks’ paid holiday for all wage earners. The Danish welfare society is characterised by quality of life and a good work-life balance. Work-life balance for the Danes is a healthy balance of priorities. As important as career and ambition is, are is just as important to balance life outside work (pleasure, leisure, family, and health). This understanding of balance not only puts Denmark at the top of the international equality table, it also contributes to a generally high standard of living. 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Though much of it is dictated by strict Nordic Labour laws, companies outside the Nordics are beginning to take pages from their playbook.  At a business in Helsinki, Finland, employees are encouraged to go home on time at the end of their day. Often this falls around 5:00pm, though leaving earlier to say, go to a child’s sports activity, is always a guilt-free option.  Like many European businesses, employees also receive five weeks of paid vacation each year. Everyone gets stock options and teams are small with the ability to make autonomous decisions. The theory: this team is closest to the project, they know what is best for it. No management approval required, but only to help share in lessons learned. Many Nordic businesses have shortened hours and a focus on family. By putting family first, businesses report improved productivity and innovation, less absenteeism, and reductions in staff turnover. Other benefits can include: Ability to leave work 30-minutes early to pick up kids from school or take them to sports practice Ability to use sick days to take care of sick children Businesses regularly offer gym memberships, event discounts, leadership classes, and team-building exercises as well as opportunities for employees to take courses and further their education. At one business, in Sweden, for example, employees have access to a leisure centre and recreational activities such as fishing, tennis, and swimming. Though everyone has their own definition of what work-life balance means to them, it can be difficult to follow without government mandates, like in some European countries, or if you’re a small business. Our UK and Europe Salary Guide showed that, with over 98% of respondents working full time, at least some flexibility is now expected. We found that 53% of respondents work at home at least one day a week, and 56% have flexible working hours, highlighting that these ‘benefits’ are now becoming the norm.  Harnham Life As a business, we try to both reflect, and the lead the way with, developments that we see across the Data & Analytics industry. From ensuring our consultants leave on time two days per week to participate in pursuits outside work, to offering one fully-paid Charity Day per year, we place emphasis on creating an environment where our teams feel like they have a good work-life balance. By building a culture where a consultant can set up a book club or arrange a night out on the town, we have formed a business where employee welfare is prioritised.  Though everyone has their own definition of what work-life balance means to them, it can be difficult to follow without government mandates like in some European countries or if you’re a small business. The important thing is to do what’s right for you and sometimes turn off your phone, close your laptop, and meet up with some family or friends in that coffee shop.  Whether you’re looking for a permanent position with more benefits, or the freedom of a contract role, we’re here to help with your job search.  

Download our 2018 UK & EU Salary Guides

We are thrilled to announce the release of the 2018 editions of our market-leading Salary Guides for the UK, US and Europe. Having spoken to thousands of Data & Analytics professionals across the globe, we gained invaluable insights into key industry salaries and trends across a wide variety of specialisms and sectors.  Our surveys are created for analysts, by analysts, and offer a detailed, on-the-ground look at what’s concerning talent in the industry. As with the last few years, 2018 has shown us that the data industry continues to grow and shows no sign of slowing, with demand for analysts still easily outstripping supply. The guides include salary and trend analysis across five key specialisms: Data & Technology, Data Science, Digital Analytics, Marketing & Insight, and Risk Analytics. You can download the UK & EU guides here.