Get the Best from your interviews
Interviews can be tough on everyone, interviewer included. Hiring managers are often thrown into interviews without training or experience, which can result in difficult or awkward encounters for both parties. As a recruitment partner, we are always here to support and provide any tips and techniques to make sure you get the most out of every interview, so check out our advice below for ensuring your next interview is well worth the time of both you and your potential employee.
Before your Interview
Set the Agenda
Don’t go in blind. Set an agenda for the allotted time so you can clearly see what will be covered. Consider time for introductions, running through the candidates CV/set questions, and time for candidates to ask their own questions.
Have a copy of the right CV
Make sure you have a solid understanding of the candidate’s history and qualities that have resulted in them being picked for interview. Take a copy along that you can refer back to throughout the interview and discuss the candidate’s qualifications with them.
Choose the right setting
This is the candidate’s first impressions of the company, so try and make it a good one. This can be as simple as making sure the room is well lit and prepared for the meeting. Consider if the candidates need directions to the building, or even to the room – it’s easy to get lost when nervous.
Consider the fit
If hired, the candidate in question will be a big part of your working life, as well as the lives of your teams and other members of the company. It pays to bear diversity and inclusion in mind when making your decision, and to afford everyone an equal chance at attaining the position.
This one goes without saying, but if you have stated a start time, ensure you stick to it. You will lose out on interview time and create a negative first impression. Why should the candidate make the effort when their interviewer won’t?
Vary the Questions
Use plenty of open questions to get into the mind and perspective of your candidate. ‘What’ and ‘why’ questions make people think on their feet and expand on experiences and examples, which is easier for some people than it is for others. Explore the use of open-ended questions to receive a wider variety of answers, such as “Describe your greatest accomplishment at work.”
Add another Perspective
While it’s true that large, ‘Mastermind’-style panel interviews are becoming a thing of the past, don’t feel you need to interview alone. Bring in a senior team member or manager from a different team. This opens different viewpoints and perspectives, and a colleague in another team might end up asking something that you wouldn’t have even thought to ask.
During the interview
A friendly welcome and a little chit-chat before getting into the interview always sets a good tone and will help to break the ice a bit once your candidate arrives. It will also help quell some of the nervousness the candidate (and yourself) may be feeling, as well as empower them into providing their best.
Leave your ego at the door
Everyone that you speak with should be treated as equals. You are the face of the company, and candidates will make quick judgements the same as everyone else – especially in a climate where they don’t have to take any offer they’re given.
You want to leave an interview with plenty of notes to refer back to, especially if there are multiple interviews in the same day. This will be vital when the time comes to make decisions, offer constructive criticism, or set up questions for the next stage.
Give Candidates Time
Interviews can be nerve-racking, and many candidates may find it hard to give their best answer under pressure. When asking questions, make sure to give candidates plenty of time to answer before moving on to a different subject. You should also always leave a few minutes for candidates to ask their own questions.
As an interviewer, you will feel inclined to own the conversation, and advising the candidate all about the company and role. This is important, but ideally you should be speaking only 30% of the time. Make full use of the meeting – ask some open questions and really listen to their response. Think about the answer given, but also how it was given, as well as the body language used.
Values + Qualities
You are looking for the ‘right’ person for the role. Make sure you keep an open mind to transferable qualities and experience a person can bring, as well as how good a fit they’d be for the colleagues already in your team. Some things just can’t be taught!
After the interview
Give yourself a little time after an interview to think and reflect on the meeting. This especially relates to back-to-back interviews or a busy day of meetings – you’d hate to forget some phenomenal candidate answers, or your initial feelings upon talking with them.
Don’t forget the candidate feedback
We cannot stress this one enough. If someone has made the effort to go to the interview, taking time out of their day, they deserve interview feedback no matter how it went.
You don’t have to rewrite War and Peace for them, but letting a successful or unsuccessful candidate know will really help them in the future, and they will appreciate both you and your company for making the effort to catch up. If working with a recruiter, you should make sure they are passing on feedback.
Don’t hang around
The candidate market is moving at a constantly evolving pace. Many candidates you speak with will have multiple interviews and offers on the table. If you find the right candidate and at a stage to make an offer, try make it happen – don’t always assume they are hanging on your offer alone. If you must wait for approval or sign, make sure you keep the candidate warm by having a follow-up call or email to show intent.