The interview is probably where most people go wrong in the recruitment process but nearly all problems can be avoided with some thorough preparation. Most problems within the interview process come about because of poor preparation, the belief that one can “wing it” or play it by ear.
The interview is not a social event. Yes, you want your candidates to feel relaxed and comfortable with you, simply because you are far more likely to get a good idea of how they will fit in your organisation if they are relaxed.
Good interview preparation and planning will always produce far better results than an informal interview.
Remember: You want the candidates to do the majority of the talking so that you can find out everything you need to make a good decision. The easiest way to ensure this is by planning properly.
Before the Interview
Read through all the candidate CV’s. Make sure that you are familiar with them. Write down any questions that you may have about each individual and their work history at this stage.
Prepare general questions that you will ask each candidate, thinking about what specifically you want to find out about every candidate. There will be key areas that you want to cover with each candidate.
Think about the interview structure. Where will they be held? Will there be more than one interviewer? If so, make sure that you prepare together so that everyone knows which areas they will cover and how you will conduct the interviews.
Asking the right questions can take a bit of thought. What you want to know will vary depending on each individual role but if you want to find out all you can, try to use open questions as much as possible. Ask candidates to give examples. For sales roles you should expect candidates to be able to give facts and figures, ask about targets and achievements.
Why do you feel that you are good at your job?
What was it about this position that appealed to you?
Avoid questions that invite a yes or no answer. These are called closed questions simply because they will close a conversation!!
Are you good at sales?
Do you enjoy your work?
Also try to avoid leading questions which suggest an answer and try to make sure that each question covers one point only. Multiple points in one question give people the chance to choose which point to answer.
Avoid discriminatory questions. The easy guideline to this is to avoid asking questions which you wouldn’t happily ask all candidates. If in doubt, don’t ask!
Don’t be afraid to practice your questioning technique before the interview. It will be time well spent.
The Interview Environment
Make sure that you have thought about where you will hold interviews. This needs to be a private room where you can talk without interruptions. Have any calls diverted and make sure that everyone knows that you are not to be interrupted. Plan the seating.
Avoid sitting around a desk as this can create a barrier. Make sure that no-one is sat in direct sunlight or in a draught. It sounds obvious but you want everyone to be comfortable and relaxed to get the best out of them.
Plan how the interview will run
Greet the candidate and introduce everyone to help put the candidate at ease.
Outline how the interview will run, what the candidate can expect.
Describe the job to the candidate. This is when you sell the job to the candidate. Remember that interviews are a two way street. It is important to sell the benefits of the job and company but don’t oversell it.
Ask your questions and find out about the candidate
Invite the candidate to ask any questions
Sum up at the end of the interview explaining what the next step will be. Will there be a second interview. When are they likely to be. If the candidate has impressed you, let them know but never offer the job at interview. Take the time to stop, review and think things through first.
Take notes, take notes, take notes.
Make sure that you take notes throughout the interview and that anyone taking part does the same this will be invaluable when you come to review the interviews afterwards. Don't rely on memory. Write things down as they happen and take the time between interviews to write down anything you need to remember about candidates and their answers.
Make sure that your notes are factual and that you would be happy for anyone to read them. Well-kept interview notes are the best defence against any claims of discrimination or bias and will help immensely when it comes to making the right recruitment decision.