Picture this.

You’re a hospitality business owner looking for the next top-tier person to join your team.

Maybe you’ve hired recruitment experts, like us here at Prime, to give you a much better chance of finding the perfect team member you’re searching for. (Bonus tip: working with Prime is a lot more cost-effective than recruiting on your own, plus it takes all the stress and uncertainty of the recruitment process off your shoulders leaving you free to concentrate on running your business while we do the hard work of sourcing a high-quality candidate for you.)

All the applications you’ve received have been painstakingly narrowed down to a shortlist of potential candidates. Now it’s time to start the job interview stage.

But job interviews, for the employer as much as the candidate, can be a double-edged sword.


Because some candidates, often the ones who could be the best fit for the role, will struggle to find the right answers to your questions. Sometimes that’s because they didn’t properly understand the question, sometimes it’s because they let their nerves get in the way, often it’s because they don’t have enough time to remember the best ‘competency/skill-based’ example to give you.

Whatever the reason the interview goes wrong, the result is always the same: the candidate has lost the opportunity to work with you because they haven’t been able to represent themselves in the best light possible, and you – the employer – have lost the opportunity to hire somebody who would have really excelled in the role if only their interview had gone better.

How do you get around this problem?

The John Lewis Partnership has implemented a simple but ingenious solution.

They’ve taken the decision to publish their interview questions on their careers website, so that candidates will know what to expect well in advance of their interview day.

At Prime, we think this is a fantastic idea. Not only will it take a lot of the mystery and obscurity out of the interview process, it will also reduce candidate anxiety by giving them proper time to prepare, and promote diversity in the workforce.

Lorna Bullett, John Lewis Partnership’s talent acquisition lead, described the initiative as a way to “help candidates really demonstrate what they can do so that we get the right fit for the role.”

“We want the right people, from a variety of backgrounds, with the best talent to join our team,” she said, adding that the decision to publish interview questions online so that the organisation can identify and nurture the best talent makes “absolute business sense.”

What are the advantages to letting candidates know the interview questions in advance?

Over the last few years there has been a much greater emphasis on ‘skills-based hiring’, wherein candidates are asked to answer questions based on specific competencies instead of being judged on their academic qualifications. Skills-based questions (often associated with the STAR – Situation, Task, Action, Result – Method) are used by interviewers to focus on the specific competencies the role requires, allowing the candidate a chance to showcase their skills by giving an example of how they’ve demonstrated those competencies in the real world.

In theory, this is a much more effective (and fairer) way of interviewing than judging a candidate purely on their previous roles and educational qualifications. However, if a candidate is faced with a competency question and either misunderstands the question or doesn’t have an example that immediately springs to mind, it can unfairly ruin their chances of landing the role.

That’s why John Lewis’ initiative is so important. By offering candidates insight into the types of questions they might be asked, the candidates are given more transparency into the selection criteria and a better chance to prepare. The initiative also means that candidates who require more support, including those who have ADHD, autism, dyslexia, or are neurodiverse, will have a much more structured and supportive interview experience.

Even though the interview will still be thorough and rigorous, and the interviewer will ask in-depth follow-up questions based on the answers they’re given, knowing in advance what they’re going to be asked means that candidates from all backgrounds will have an equal opportunity to succeed.

As far as we’re concerned, any initiative that puts candidates at their ease so they can give their best in the interview situation is worth exploring.

Let’s face it; the job interview is difficult from both sides. As the prospective employer, you want every candidate to show you their best so you can be certain you’re choosing the perfect hire. As the candidate, you want to show the prospective employer your best so they are in no doubt about what you can do.

Maybe it’s something you should consider the next time you’re hiring? John Lewis have published their questions online, but maybe you could include the questions (or some of them) in the email, when you invite your candidates for interview?

What do you think?

If you’ve got any questions, or whenever you’re ready to source your next ideal team member, all you’ve got to do is contact our friendly expert advisors on 020 7580 4398 or email info@primerec.co.uk and we’ll do the rest.

We look forward to working with you soon!

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