There’s a myriad of articles about interview tips, etiquette and the like out there all geared to the interviewee and how they should prepare and conduct themselves. Conversely, very little exists from the interviewers perspective.
Whilst some interviewers have refined their interview style over many years, others are newer to being on the other side of the hiring table. Either way, without good preparation and structure (sometimes the most seasoned interviewers are the worst culprits), you may not get everything out of the interview that you needed to in order to make an informed decision. Best case, you’ll need to pick this up at a further meeting, which may delay the process and risk losing the candidate. Worst case, you make the wrong hiring decision, which has a significant impact on your teams and the business.
To avoid these pitfalls and help facilitate the best possible hiring decisions, here are our top tips for how to prepare for and conduct a job interview – from the other side of the desk:
1. Prepare a selection of questions that relate to the responsibilities of the job. Use either the job description or a compilation of the key areas of the proposed remit to produce a list of questions that will provoke a response to confirm (or dispute) that the interviewee possess the required capabilities.
2. Include a number of behavioural questions, such as "describe a situation that showed your team spirit..." Encourage specific examples of past performance that will substantiate previous successes and offer insight regarding their future behaviour.
3. Review the candidate's CV ahead of the interview. Although this seems obvious, if you’re short on time it may be forgotten and a last minute print-out taken in to the interview does not sufficiently class as preparation – you need time to digest background and work history as this will inevitably shape your line of questioning and what you’re keen to explore during the interview. It’s also important for your candidate to feel that you have taken the time to ensure a productive interview. In a talent led market interviews are a two way process so it’s essential candidates don’t feel like their presence is impeding your day and other more pressing matters.
4. Outline the structure of the interview for the candidate. Give a brief description of the business and outline the duties of the role before you begin questioning the candidate. Let them know that you will talk through their background and experience and that they’ll have an opportunity to ask you any questions they may have. It seems a small thing, but setting up the parameters of the interview will keep you both focused and allows the candidate to have an idea of what to expect.
5. Don't talk too much during the interview – it’s an easy trap to fall in to, but the general rule is that interviewers should talk for less than half of the time. It’s important to allow candidates time to describe their skills, qualifications and fit for the role and your questions should be geared to getting the most out of them as possible, without inadvertently talking more than they are (believe us, it’s an easy trap to fall in to).
6. Put candidates at ease by offering them a drink, introducing yourself & anyone else joining you, enquiring about their journey etc. (this last point is actually useful information as well as being polite small talk). Always make sure you keep to the interview time arranged and don’t leave candidates waiting way beyond the scheduled time – this comes back to the point about creating the right impression in a talent led market. If it’s been a positive meeting it’s always worth considering giving the candidate a tour of the office, allowing them an opportunity to speak with prospective colleagues and to get a feel for the environment.
7. Observe nonverbal signals such as eye contact and appropriate dress and remember the candidate is observing yours too. Ensure your tone of voice is professional, that you remain focused throughout the interview (so no checking your phone/emails) and that the candidate leaves with a good impression of the business and the team ethos.
8. Keep conversation polite and work-related. If you build a quick and pleasant rapport with the candidate, be mindful of your line of questioning because if things run the risk of becoming too informal, you may make a hiring decision based on the likability of the candidate as opposed to their ability to do the job well. A degree of informality can, however, be useful as when candidates relax, it often unearths other aspects of their personality/background that aid with your decision making process. The important thing is to keep things balanced and in perspective.