How to be a better interviewer

Recruitment is an expensive business – and hiring the wrong person can add to your costs and really disrupt your teams. Part of the hiring responsibility comes down to the interview – and the interviewer – so increase your chances of success by making sure you’re as prepared as you expect your candidate to be.

An interview is a two-way process

With employment at a record high, candidates are becoming increasingly picky about the companies they work for, and you could find that a poor interview technique puts off the best candidates on your list. Equally, you want to make sure that your questions and conversation is robust enough to give you the information you’re looking for, and to give you a clear idea about whether this is really the right person for the job. Treat the interview as a two-way process; not something the candidate is lucky to be attending. It will make a real difference to the outcome.

We help interviewers and panels prepare for interview sessions, and we even take part in interviews ourselves to help clients get the right person first time. For now, here are our top tips:

  1. Know what you’re looking for

You already know that the candidate has the kind of qualifications, experience and skills that you’re looking for. What you need to know now is how they will function in your business. So you need to think wider than just capability – how do they work as part of a team? Can they lead if they have to? Do they have the potential to progress within the business? Are they willing to learn new skills and adaptable to change? How do they react under pressure? These are more attitude-based than skills or knowledge-based questions, but it’s usually attitude that causes problems in organisations, so it’s worth paying attention to.

  1. Go where the conversation takes you

Of course, you need to cover the basics with every candidate, but if they give an interesting example or they say something that piques your interest, follow it up. You may find out something really useful, and you’ll certainly get a better flavour for how they think and respond. They will be more relaxed if they feel the interview is conversational – but make sure you maintain control over the direction of the conversation and the length of the interview.

  1. Try to stay independent

Behavioural science tells us that, no matter how hard we try, we are often pre-disposed to like one person over another. If, in the first minute of an interview, you discover that you and the candidate support the same football team, come from the same part of the country, enjoy the same music or have a colleague in common, you are going to ‘like’ them, no matter how hard you try. But you do have to put the role and your organisation first, so maintain your independence and objectivity to make sure you are making the best choice for your business.

  1. Take notes

Don’t spend all your time writing, because that will interrupt the flow of the interview, but do take notes so that you can either report back to others or review them clearly before you make a decision. It might be worth preparing an interview sheet so that you can mark off the specific things you’re looking for, and then have a space for you to add particular notes, observations or questions for a follow-up call or second interview.

There’s definitely a knack to good interviewing, and the better you are, the more likely you are to recruit the best person for the job. For more on interview training, why not contact us today?


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