What should a job interview consist of?
After assessing job applications, the next step on the road to hiring is the job interview. This is your chance to get to know your candidates and discover which will be right for your business.
There is no right and wrong way to conduct interviews and every role will require a different technique. However, there are certain stages that every interview should go through to ensure an effective evaluation of candidates.
Types of interviews
Selecting the right interviewing style is highly important when trying to conduct an efficient interview process. In order to judge each candidate on an even playing field, make sure you choose one type of interview for all candidates. The following interview types below can be used exclusively or combined depending on the needs of your business:
- Telephone Interviews – generally undertaken by a recruitment manager or a member of the HR team rather than the manager of the department advertising the vacancy. The intention is usually to answer any questions that were raised after reading an applicant's CV and it's a good way of covering many interviews over the course of a few hours. For positions where a good phone manner is of particular importance, this is a key screening method.
- Competency Interviews – Conducted face-to-face, competency interviews are designed to discover whether the candidate has the ability and experience to do the job. You should look to ask candidates about situations when they have completed similar tasks. What were the big obstacles they overcame? What aspects of their past experience are they most proud of?
- Behavioural Interview – For roles where candidates are unlikely to have previous experience, behavioural interviews are designed to predict if a candidate is suitable for the role. Hypothetical situations are used to put candidates on the spot so you can judge their lateral thinking and how they may perform under pressure. This may be combined with psychometric tests to help with evaluation.
- Technical Interviews – Sometimes the only way to find out if someone is going to be capable of doing the job is to let them actually do it. This could be anything from giving them a short test through to a trial work period. If you are testing multiple candidates, ensure they all receive the same task so you can evaluate their comparative ability effectively.
- Panel Interview – This is a method that is on it's way out, although it's still favoured by companies who find it difficult to synchronize everyone involved in the hiring decision. Generally run over the course of a day, candidates are put in front of 4-5 people, often having to perform a presentation. This can be highly intimidating for candidates and it's important to have one main facilitator of the interview so they can keep the process running smoothly.
- Group Interviews – Another method that is becoming less common, but is still used in some circumstances to evaluate a lot of candidates at once. A group of candidates are set a task that will allow you to asses their different personalities, working styles, ability to lead and how they react to pressure. This should be used as an addition al evaluation method, rather than one that replaces a face-to-face interview.
Who takes part in the interview again depends on the type of role that candidates are going for. A representative from the HR team should always be there as well as the manager of the department that is hiring. You may also wish to bring in a current employee who is doing a similar job as they will be in a very good position to work out if the candidate is capable of doing the job.
Conducting the interview
Whatever type of interview you choose, you need to prepare effectively. Sort out a schedule with everyone who needs to be involved and stick to it as closely as possible. If you're setting up a series of interviews across one day, look to allow at least half an hour between each so you can cope with any that overrun and also have a chance to summarise each interview after it is over.
Try and be as flexible as you can with candidates. They will have other commitments as well and will often be trying to hide the fact that they're going for interviews from their current employer. Try to give them at least three options to choose from and then arrange your schedules accordingly.
It may sound like an obvious step, but make sure you have a quiet room in which to conduct your interview. You'd be surprised at the number of people who book a room that is directly opposite a building site, or even forget to book a room at all.
When your candidate arrives, look to roughly follow this process:
- Welcome the candidate, offer them a drink and put them at ease with some general conversation (about the weather, their journey, last night's football, etc).
- Introduce yourself and briefly explain what the interview will involve.
- Talk through an overview of your business and give some information on the role, why it has come about and what it will involve.
- Begin with your questions. Asking them to take you through their CV is a good starting point as it helps them feel comfortable talking about a familiar subject.
- Ask open-ended questions so that the candidate has the opportunity to express themselves.
- Try to cover questions relating to the more important aspects of the role at the beginning. You don't want to near the end of the allocated time with lots of areas still unanswered.
- At the end of the interview, ask the candidate if they have any questions.
- Inform them of the next stage in the recruitment process, e.g. second interviews and estimated timescales.
- Walk the candidate to the exit, thanking them for their time.
- Write up any notes you have taken as soon as possible. If you are conducing many interviews it's easy to forget who said what.
A job interview is as much for the candidate to find out if they would like to work for you as it is for you to see if you would like them to join your team. Always talk about the positive aspects of your business and treat them as a client that you are hoping to do business with. Even if you usually go to work in jeans and t-shirt, look to put on a suit and tie for when you meet candidates – if they've put in the effort, so should you!
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