Job interviews are a stressful, time-consuming process full of uncertainty and doubt, by no means guaranteed to yield results… and we don’t just mean for the candidates.
An interview is never exclusively about you finding the right person for the vacancy in your business; the switched-on candidate is evaluating you as well, and determining if yours is the right company for them. It’s important that you leave them with an accurate impression of the role and the company, or you may be risking a breakdown of the working relationship before it’s even had a chance to begin.
So what is the best way of conducting an interview, of creating a professional environment whilst still getting the most from the candidate? This is our checklist for running a perfect job interview; take a look and see if any of these methods make it into your own recruitment process…
1. Know who you want to recruit
This might sound odd given that the point of interviewing is to find out which candidate you want to hire, but take a step back. Prior to the interview put some real thought into the qualities that you want the person in the role to have, and know clearly what traits you’re looking for. If you’ve only got a fuzzy idea of who you’re after, you’re leaving an awful lot to chance when you have to make your decision.
2. Know what you need to find out
If a traditional interview is not the best way to analyse the candidate’s skills, give them time in your meeting to demonstrate what they can do – whether it’s letting them take you through their portfolio, or giving them a skills test to see their working methods. Don’t let it dominate proceedings, but plan the interview so that the candidate can show what they do best.
3. Do your research
Any candidate worth your time will have thoroughly researched your company prior to the interview, and they’ll note your lack of professional courtesy if you turn up to interview having barely glanced at their CV. Note any relevant experiences, and look for trends in their employment history, as well as any gaps that you should ask about. The ideal candidate will be well prepared for the interview, and you should be as well.
4. Explain the process
This is pretty straightforward, and basically equates tosaying what you’re going to do and then doing it. At the beginning of the interview let the candidate know the general framework for the appointment so that they know what to expect. This will structure the interview, relax the candidate and also give the impression that you’re a consummate professional – which may help the candidate come to their decision when you offer them the role.
5. Remember: the interview is a conversation
An effective job interview is simply a discussion between yourselves and the candidate where you talk openly about the business and the role, and match it against their experiences and your mutual goals. Listening to what the candidate has to say, giving them time to volunteer more information about themselves, asking follow up questions – these behaviours will encourage the candidate to open up, allowing you to assess more accurately if they are the right fit for your company.
6. Answer lots of questions
If the candidate is passionate about the role they’re going to have a lot of questions for you about the company and the industry at large,and some ideas about how their role will fit into that. If this hasn’t happened then it may be that you didn’t give them the opportunity to express their interest,or it might be more so that they just don’t have the passion that you’re looking for. Either way, you’ll know which it was after the interview.
7. Provide closure for everyone
At the end of the interview let the candidate know what happens next and when they can expect to hear from you; then, when you’ve made your decision, follow up with every single interviewee and thank them for their time. Failing to inform a candidate that they were unsuccessful after they’ve made the effort to meet with you is incredibly bad form; and will also reflect poorly on you when your first choice doesn’t work out and you need to go back to the candidate you left hanging.
8. Use their references
References should give you a fair view of the candidate’s personality and skills – as long as you actually contact them! If you have genuine doubts about the candidate’s honesty and want to dig a little deeper, use LinkedIn to identify and contact any mutual connections or previous employers (making sure that nothing gets back to the candidate’s current employer, of course), and get the information you need to make the right decision. Most candidates will have given you the best, most objective references for the role… but there’s no harm in a little due diligence.
9. One more time
If you can afford the time, meet with the candidate for a second interview. Take the opportunity to give them a tour of the office and let them meet the staff they’ll be working with directly. Get a second opinion from your team, and if there are any warning signs at this point it’s still not too late to back out. Remember that you’re entering into a business relationship with this person; you need to be sure that you’re making the right choice.
10. Make the offer
When you’ve made your decision, it’s time to lay your cards on the table. Remember that it comes down to more than just your decision that the candidate is right for your company; it’s also up to the candidate to decide that your company is right for them – and you should take it as a massive sign of respect if they accept.
As great as it would be to follow all of these tips all of the time, we understand that recruitment is a big task whenever it rolls around; after all, it’s not like your usual responsibilities disappear just so that you can hire someone…
This is where HR Solutions can help. Our Fixed Fee Recruitment service takes the legwork out of your staff search and makes sure that you only see the best candidates for your business. We’ll draft the advert, post it across the major jobs boards, screen the applicants, arrange the interviews and send offers and regrets – and all for one great price, regardless of the role or how many staff you want to take on.