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How hard can it be to interview a candidate for a job? There is so much focus on what a job seeker should and should not do at an interview but what if you are on the opposite side of the table and you are the interviewer? What should you do and not do? What’s the etiquette as the interviewer?
Now you might be thinking this is pretty straight forward but after interviewing with hundreds of clients over the years, I’m sad to say many interviewers leave a lot to be desired. For some I’d go to the extent of saying they set double standards. As the interviewer you expect the person you are interviewing to turn off their mobile phone yet during the interview you are happy for a team member to interrupt the interview and ask you to step out to deal with a drama; or maybe you leave your phone on and check it when you hear it beep. As I was saying……. double standards.
Many interviewers take for granted the skills and expertise you need to execute a well-rounded interview. Many rely on gut feel, others rely on if they bond with or like the person. And other interviewers simply pick people like them. Conducting a well executed interview is no easy feat for a small to medium business who doesn’t have a dedicated or experienced HR person or recruiter. Different story if you are in a large organisation and have a dedicated recruitment team but if you only recruit once or twice a year how are you possibly meant to ensure you keep your recruiting skills current?
Do you want to conduct a better interview to get a better candidate and in the long run get a better outcome? Here are my top tips for conducting better interviews if your day job is not as a recruiter but you just got lucky and get to wear that hat from time to time.
1. Preparation is key
No different from the job seeker preparing for the interview, the interviewer needs to prepare equally as much. Preparation includes knowing exactly what you are assessing each candidate on (hopefully you nailed this back at the start of the process when you wrote the Position Description and the job advert). Know the job seekers application and highlight sections that you want to hone in on or probe.
2. Draft some interview questions
Not only is doing this going to ensure you run a transparent and discrimination free recruitment process but without great questions you will struggle to elicit great information from the candidate. Can’t get great information from the candidate; then you can’t make a great decision on who to appoint. I’m often told “the candidate didn’t tell me much” or “it was hard to get information from the candidate to be able to assess their skills.” If this is the case it wasn’t the candidate that interviewed poorly it was your poor interview questions that failed to draw out the necessary information.
3. Allow plenty of time
What would you think if the candidate rushed through the interview because they had another interview to get to or even just another appointment to attend? I wouldn’t be impressed. Hence why the same applies to the interviewer. The candidate has given up their time, possibly told a white lie to be able to escape from work to attend the interview. The least you can do is give them your time; the time needed to best assess their skills and expertise for the position. This is time management 101.
4. Strength in numbers
Where ever possible, have an interview panel. So many small to medium businesses I work with often just interview with one representative from the business; often because there is no one else. If you are not using a recruiter and are running the process yourself, having a second person on the interview panel will be invaluable. Use a business coach or a mentor, one of your team members, or engage a recruitment and/or HR professional to simply sit on the interview panel, allowing you to still run the process yourself. You’ll be amazed at the different interpretations and perceptions each interview panel member has of each candidate. This then allows you to nut out the pros and cons of each candidate; which is much harder to do on your own, in your own mind.
5. Talk Less, Listen More
If you as the interviewer are doing the majority of the talking; the interview is on a path to destruction. The best way to assess a candidate for a job is to allow them to do the talking. Yes, tell them a bit about the business and the role, tell them about the culture, share with them what a day in the life of Company ABC is like but then ask the questions and shut up. Be ok with silence, let them fill the gaps. That’s often when they will volunteer information that is gold. Be prepared to probe and investigate to get the info you need but use your mouth in proportion to your ears. You have one mouth and two ears……
Interviewing is not as easy as many people think. An interview will only ever be as good as the ability of the interviewer conducting the interview to draw out the necessary information to make an informed decision on who is going to be the best person for the job. By following these 5 tips you’ll be on the right track to appointing the best candidate instead of the candidate that barracks for the same footy team as you.
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Angela Connor is the Founder and Director of Inspire HQ, one of regional Victoria’s leading recruitment, human resource and career coaching companies. She understands the significance of having the right team of people in a business and is passionate about helping business to attract, recruit and engage the right people so those people can inject their talents into the business; creating an environment where they can do great work and love what they do. Find more useful information and advice at www.inspirehq.com.au or by following Angela on LinkedIn.