So you’ve combed through the résumés, shortlisted potential candidates and set up the interviews. Now for the real challenge: conducting the interviews and judging the candidates’ suitability in terms of skills, knowledge and personality so that at the end of the process you can feel confident that you’re offering the job to the right person.

Many employers see the interview simply as an informal chat and go on ‘gut feel’ when making a hiring decision. However, a disciplined, systematic approach can be far more reliable.

These interview techniques will help you to elicit and gather all the information you need, and analyse it to ensure that the position is filled successfully:

1. Review the job description and prepare questions accordingly

Take the time to prepare for the interview by reviewing the job description, or creating one if necessary. Then devise questions that will assess the candidate’s ability to perform every aspect of the job. We will provide some sample questions in a future post.

2. Conduct all interviews in a similar manner

In order to be able to compare candidates fairly and accurately, it’s important to conduct all interviews in the same way. Ask the same questions of each candidate and keep all interviews the same length, wherever possible.

3. Ask open-ended questions

To help the candidate feel at ease, begin the interview with friendly, informal conversation. Thank them for coming in and for expressing interest in the role and the possibility of working with the organisation.

A really effective first question is ‘Tell me a little about yourself’, which gives the candidate the opportunity to deliver their ‘elevator pitch’. Their answer should be relevant to the role and not about their dogs or favourite sport!

Continue the interview with open-ended questions that encourage the candidate to provide detail. Questions such as ‘How do you structure your time?’ will yield far more information than ‘Are you organised?’, which can be answered with a simple ‘Yes’ or ‘No’.

4. Probe a little deeper with follow-up questions

Some people find it hard to open up, especially in an interview situation. If the candidate is not providing enough information in their answer(s), ask follow-up questions like ‘Why did you do that?’ or ‘How did you resolve the situation?’ until you’re satisfied that you have enough information.

Another useful technique is to ask the question in a slightly different way. For example, questions like ‘Why did you apply for this job?’ and ‘Why should I give you this job?’ may overlap, but approaching the topic from a different angle will encourage the candidate to dig a little deeper and provide more information.

While your standard questions will be the same for all candidates, your follow-up questions will obviously vary and will require some improvisation.

5. Take notes

It will be impossible to remember every candidate’s response to every question, and sometimes even which candidate is which, especially if you’re conducting several interviews over a couple of weeks. Jotting down pertinent information during the interview will help to jog your memory when comparing the candidates’ suitability for the role.

6. Be as objective as possible

It’s natural to warm to some people more than others, but this doesn’t necessarily mean they will perform better in the role. Be aware of any potential bias and try to assess each candidate with the requirements of the role in mind.

7. Give the candidate time to ask questions

At the end of the interview, ask the candidate if they have any questions. This is not just a courtesy; it will also tell you whether they’ve been proactive and done their research about your company, and what their priorities are.

8. Give each candidate a rating

Immediately after the interview, take a few minutes to rate the candidate’s suitability for the role. It’s useful to draw up a simple table with headings such as ‘Knowledge and Skills’, ‘Personality’, ‘Communication Skills’ and ‘Additional Comments’. In the first three columns, write down a score out of 10, adding any comments in the fourth column.

While it won’t necessarily be a simple case of appointing the person with the highest score, a scoring system will give you a reliable basis for comparing candidates and will help you to make your selection based on data rather than emotion.

Conducting your interviews in this way, and asking the right questions, will help ensure that the right person gets the job, but it’s an intensive, time-consuming process. The Proven Group has had extensive experience in placing candidates with the right ‘fit’ for numerous organisations. They can take care of your entire recruitment process, including interviews.

Feel free to get in touch for a no-obligation discussion.

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