The focus of any good interview is to recruit a candidate with the necessary experience, knowledge and skill set to make a success of the role following appointment.
Getting the right candidate can however be difficult, so its important to structure your interview correctly and ask the right questions. Your questions should be specific to the role and will be dependent on the competencies and behaviours required.
I am not a fan of asking the same questions to all candidates in a hope that this will provide a tick box exercise, showing that you have used a fair and non-discriminatory process. Yes, there needs to be some core well defined questions that relate to the job description but do not become too restrictive in your questioning. Spontaneous questions are necessary to really probe any areas that you might feel require more detail. Interviews should be a two-way process where both candidate and recruiter get the best from the process.
It is always important to understand that the candidate is also interviewing you, to understand if your business is the type of environment that they feel will be a good fit for them. Its therefore important to be honest, professional, and friendly.
Giving clear instructions is vital to the success of any interview process whether it has been conducted by phone, conference call or face-to face.Phone – Do not just ring a candidate up and expect them to go through a one-hour interview without notice. Give them time to prepare and schedule the interview appropriately. Its fine to make an initial screening call but keep this to a minimum length where possible. Scheduling any interview allows all parties the opportunity to prepare and get the best out of the call.
When inviting a candidate to an interview, you should state
- Approximate length of the call
- People attending, especially if other managers are joining throughout the call
- Proposed format, formal, screening, competency based.
Video Conference – Teams, Zoom, Webex, Google Meet
Video conferencing has now become the norm for interviewing following the pandemic, however consideration should be given to whether this is the most appropriate way to conduct every interview. Firstly, we need to check that both the hiring manager and the candidate have access to the platform. I do not know how many times I have been on a call with poor Wi-Fi resulting in poor connectivity or loss of video. Its also important to remember that candidates may not have access to a webcam, so it is worth checking this prior to the call. Its also worth having some contingency plans should either party be unable to connect.
My only guideline is to make it easy and tell the candidate what the expectations are, giving a guideline like that of the phone call. Send out the invitation with clear instructions. Remember that every household is different, and it is unlikely that every call will go smoothly. The dogs suddenly barking loudly as an Amazon delivery arrives is unlikely to have been anticipated by either party, so make allowances for unplanned interruptions.
Whether the face-to-face interview takes place at the first stage or following a phone or video conference interview then it remains important to stay professional.
Be clear in the invitation who the candidate is meeting, where, when, for how long and what steps they need to take when they park or enter the building. I do not know how many times I have attended interviews where the only instruction was “Please report to reception when you arrive,” leaving the receptionist the task of finding the interviewing manager while HR are tied up in a meeting.
Make sure names and positions within the company are clearly set out in the invitation. The experience the candidate receives when they arrive reflects the image they have of the business.
Get it right at the beginning and the candidate’s impression is that they are joining a professional business, get it wrong and the candidate impression is left tarnished.
Make the candidate feel at ease and you are likely to get more from the interview process.
Make sure that you offer drinks even if its only water. Sipping water not only gives the candidate a chance to lubricate a dry mouth, but it also allows for thinking time.
Be clear from the outset on who needs to meet the candidate before a decision of offer can be made.
To ensure consistency and fairness make sure that each interviewer knows their specific role in relation to the interview.
Even if you do not have a competency-based interview process you should still approach the interview in a format to define the candidates, technical capability, and behaviours. For instance, if you are asking for a candidate to possess presentation skills, you may then need to define the question to ask if they have experience of presenting financial results to a senior team. Design the questions around the job description and you are likely to receive improved feedback.
Set the expectations. “I will talk you through the role and the business and then ask you to talk through your skills, we may delve into specific areas that need more detail as we move through the interview. You will be then given time to ask any questions that we may not have covered. We want both parties to get the most from the interview process”
Ask the candidate what they know about the business, this allows you the opportunity to see if the individual has researched your business.
When its your time to present the business then do this honestly explaining business growth, culture, opportunities, testimonials etc. Give examples of your own position or how someone in a similar position to the one advertised has grown.
If its appropriate walk the candidate around the building explaining the makeup of the teams and explaining the working environment.
Check for understanding and gauge the candidate’s interest in the position.
Following Q&As, close the interview explaining the next steps, who will get in touch, how, when and any requirements e.g., certification, authority checks, references etc
Make sure that the candidate leaves knowing that even if they are unsuccessful that you have appreciated their time and effort made in attending the interview. Even if the candidates not right for your business, then do not damage your brand by ignoring the effort, they have put in to attend the interview
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