Top 6 Tips to Conducting a Successful Interview
Interviewing is an art and a skill. It is a skill that tends to be cascaded down from one manager to the next and there is often the risk of not just passing on good habits but the poor ones too. There are managers who really enjoy the process of interviewing someone new for their team and others find it a chore or an interruption to business as usual.
Whatever your feelings about the process it is inevitable as a manager you will need to interview at some point and it is worth developing good skills to ensure you hire the best candidate for the job, the department and the company. To conduct optimum recruitment, it must also be done appropriately, in order to protect the business against financial, legal or reputational risks.
1) Prepare list of questions in advance
As with most management tasks, the most effective tips for a successful interview start with preparation. Careful consideration should be given to the questions to be used in advance of conducting an interview, and it is recommended to prepare a template with interview questions which are both appropriate and relevant to the key skills and experience required for the role. This ensures the same lead questions are asked of each candidate, providing them with equal opportunity to talk with confidence about their experience and demonstrate their fit for the role. As well as being fair to all candidates during the conduct of an interview, the interview template also provides structure for the interview for the hiring manager, ensuring they create an equal basis for candidate comparison and assessment for the role.
2) Agree recruitment roles and questions
Where feasible, it is suggested that any interview process would benefit from having a second opinion for the decision maker. In practice, one of the most effective tips for conducting an interview well is for the hiring manager to talk through the role, CVs for candidates to be interviewed, and the list of lead questions with another member of the company who will assist with the interview. Where the SMEs are small and have limited management positions, an effective recruitment strategy is to involve a member of the team the successful candidate will join. This also gives the benefit of allowing the candidates to ask direct questions of the team member, and give them further insights and confidence about their assessment of whether the company would be the right fit for them. The hiring manager should agree roles with the member of the team supporting the including, including allocating questions to each person to ask. An effective strategy for division of questions can be to place them into categories or themes, for which one person takes the lead. As well as adding further structure, this ensures any change of interviewer is not too repetitive or off-putting for the candidate.
The best recruitment agencies will also be able to offer support for interviews for those SMEs who do not feel it would be appropriate to seek the support of a team member for the interview
3) Gather information and observe
Another important approach to interviewing is to focus on gathering information and observing behaviours. However, it is easy to start making judgements during the interview and assessing the information.
Try to focus only on gathering as much quality information as you can. Listen carefully to the answers provided by the candidate and actively probe for additional information to ensure you have a clear understanding of what and how they have handled certain situations and scenarios.
It is recommended to agree in advance with the person supporting the hiring manager with the interview that the person asking a question does not take detailed notes, but concentrates on engaging with the candidate. As such, both interviewers would take more detailed notes on the subjects for which their counterpart asked questions, which adds to the comfort level for the candidate.
4) Time management
Considering the average interview lasts about an hour (more or less) it is essential you first plan the format and take control of the time. The more confident candidates are likely to take control if you allow them and it could be difficult to gain back that lost time.
As an interviewer you will need to very carefully set the expectations and ensure the candidates know what needs to be covered during the interview and the maximum time available.
The interview question template and roles for interviewers described above assists with time management by facilitating structure and control.
5) Take comprehensive notes
It is especially important to take comprehensive notes if you are interviewing a number of candidates over a period of time. The longer the time between interviews the more information you will forget and it will make it incredibly difficult to remember the details and then objectively and fairly compare one candidate with another.
Be very careful taking notes as candidates have the right to request a copy. Only write down what information is being shared. Do not write down your opinions about the candidate or any judgement about the answer.
Consider a simple scores matrix approach for each question, for example ranging from 1 to 3 to indicate a poor, average or good answer. This acts as a quality check for the decision-making process and enables the hiring manager to gain the most benefit from the participation of the additional team member by asking them to justify their scores in the post interview decision making process.
6) Build rapport
There is a lot going on in a face-to-face interview. You are asking questions, listening to the answers, asking relevant follow up or probing questions, keeping eye contact at the same time as taking detailed notes and not to mention observing non-verbal body language, observing gestures, posture and tone of voice.
The interviewer is likely to be the first person the candidate (potential employee) meets and it is not only important the candidate makes a good impression; it is critical for the employer’s reputation and brand that the interviewer understands they represent the face of the company.
Careerz Limited, based in Canterbury, offer specialist recruitment services across Kent and London.
For further information on conducting interviews including setting up a competency based interview, please check out our Interview Strategies resource page or call John Adams on 07881 623119 or 01227 656 888 or Contact page.