How did you handle your last job interview?

Not the one where you wanted the job, but the one where you, as a business owner, were offering the job. The one where you were being interviewed as a potential employer by a potential employee.

Because I can assure you, you were being interviewed. 

The employment landscape has changed so dramatically over the last few years, and while the labour market is recovering better than initially expected, employers are still finding it challenging to attract and retain quality staff. 

I often hear from my network about the lack of suitable candidates out there. They are either not qualified enough, not experienced enough, don’t have the right attitude or fail at the interview stage. 

It is tough, I can relate. I have also been going through the recruitment process recently, and all the points above are valid. 

What if we change our perspective?

What if, for one minute, we look at things from a different perspective. 

Maybe there are too few quality employers out there. Maybe you aren’t seen as one of them. Maybe you failed your last interview. Maybe the candidate just didn’t choose you.

Because gone are the days when suitable candidates clamoured for a job based on salary alone. Job seekers now are looking to get much more out of employment. They are looking for flexible hours, remote work and increased recognition for high performance. Personal values have become more important than ever too. Many job seekers also seek opportunities to contribute to society through their work and consider access to health and wellbeing resources a must-have benefit. 

In essence, they interview their potential employers much more thoughtfully today. 

So, how do you ace the interview as the business owner?

Build your business CV. If you haven’t already, start working on your employer brand. This is your reputation among the workforce, and it communicates your leadership approach, values, and the culture of the business. It’s effectively how you market yourself to recruits and existing employees. It also directly impacts the type of candidates you will attract – according to HubSpot, a good employer brand can reduce turnover rates by 28% and cut your costs-per-hire by half. Additionally, 75% of active job seekers are likely to apply to a job if the employer actively manages its employer brand.  

 Employer brand is a term referred to describe a company’s reputation and popularity from a potential employer’s perspective and describes the values company gives to its employees. (Talentlyft

Do your research. As employers, we always expect the candidate to conduct pretty thorough research into the business before an interview. You should be doing the same. At a bare minimum, read their CV. There is nothing more disheartening than making an effort for an interview, only to realise the interviewer hasn’t even had the decency to read your CV. 

 Why not go even further and explore their social media profiles (not to catch them out, but rather to find something interesting about them that will help you connect during your time together). Take a good look at any portfolio of work they may have submitted and check out their past employers and career path to date. Make sure you know your subject. 

Make a good first impression. Some say it takes a mere 7 seconds for someone to form an opinion of you, including trustworthiness. So, you had better make the most of those 7 seconds. Arrive on time and greet the candidate with a smile. Offer them refreshments and put them at ease from the start. No candidate wants to work with someone who makes them feel like an imposition, so be sure to give them your full attention. 

Prepare your questions and answers. This is an interview, after all. Think about the questions the candidate is likely to ask you and prepare your answers. You can be sure of some typical questions about the position (working hours, pay, job description) but there may also be a few focused more on personal fit. Can you tell me a bit more about the culture of the company? What are some of the key values of the business, and why? How important is the mental and physical health of your employees? What does your company offer that makes it stand out from your competitor? 

Consider preparing some questions of your own that will give you more insight into the person behind the CV. What are you passionate about? What would you expect from your leader? Who inspires you to achieve more? Do you enjoy learning and solving challenges? 

If you are recruiting based on a combination of skills and attitude, the answers to these questions can really help to differentiate between candidates when both are strong on paper. 

Communicate. Communicate openly and clearly before, during and after the interview process. It’s best to provide feedback promptly on any applications you receive and to set up any interviews as soon as realistically possible. Part of the process should be to communicate the details of the meeting to the candidate as a professional courtesy. It also shows respect for the candidate and their time. If you have any expectations of the interview, like a presentation or portfolio review, be upfront and allow the candidate time to prepare accordingly. 

During the meeting, be engaging and transparent. However, ensure you stay focused on the desired outcome, namely that both you and the candidate leave the interview knowing enough about each other to make a choice either way.  

And finally, close the interview process immediately once a decision has been reached. Great candidates won’t wait around, so make the offer or risk losing them completely. If the candidate does not make it through to the next round, inform them sooner rather than later and wish them well for their future career. 

Now, when you are next tempted to complain about the quality of candidates you see, I challenge you to change your perspective and prepare to ace the interview as the business owner. It may just secure you your next dream team member. 


Martin Baillie is a Business Coach and Growth Specialist at ActionCOACH Bury St Edmunds, committed to working with business owners to create sustainable, viable, profitable entities within the local community.

We find that most business owners are experts in their industry but not in business. Our ActionCOACH business re-education coaching programmes help business owners to understand all aspects of business so they can build a profitable, sustainable business that works without them.

Contact Martin Baillie, ActionCOACH Bury St Edmunds now on Tel: 01284 334099. You can also follow him on LinkedIn @ and on Facebook @ActionCOACHBuryStEdmunds.