Company culture
By Gemma Morris
6th February 2013

Effective interviewing is a crucial part of the hiring process if you want to secure the best candidates, especially in the Information Management market where top talent is in demand!

The interview is your chance to sell the opportunity to the candidate, but you also want to be sure your interview process is fair and thorough so when you do make an offer it’s to the best candidate. Bear in mind that an interview is a two way process and a chance for the candidate to discover if the job is the right move for them.

Be prepared

It might seem obvious but don’t forget the basics! Plan who will be conducting the interview, and where the interview will take place. It’s important to find a suitable quiet office so that you will not be distracted. The location reflects the professionalism of your organisation so don’t wait until the candidate arrives to discover your meeting rooms are all in use. Re-read the candidates CV before the interview and take note of any points you want to cover such as gaps in the dates, qualifications, and relevant work or projects to discuss.

First Impressions

Interviewers who start late, cancel interviews last minute or get distracted during an interview are at risk of losing the best candidates when they get snapped up elsewhere! However busy you are it’s important to treat candidates with the respect they deserve and remember to switch off your blackberry.

Ask the right questions

Make sure you have a job spec and be clear about what’s really needed to excel in the role. You do need to know what the essential skills are but remember to think about what underlying qualities your ideal candidate will need. Keep these points in mind and make sure your questions draw back to them. It’s also important to ask all candidates the same basic questions to give you a fair and relevant comparison.

Open questions

Open questions are a great way to get the candidate talking and find out their knowledge, experience, opinions or feelings on a particular experience or situation. Open questions usually start with what, how or why. Another great technique is to start with “tell me” or “describe”

  • Tell me about a time when….
  • What was the biggest challenge?
  • What happened next?
  • How did you get that result?
  • How did you approach….?
  • Describe the circumstances
  • Why did you not meet the deadline?

Probing Questions

All too often interviewers will ask one question and then move on to the next thing.  Don’t be afraid to keep probing to get to the nitty gritty or draw information out of someone trying to avoid telling you something.

  • Ask the candidate to give you an example to help you understand
  • Or ask “exactly what do you mean?”
  • Don’t be afraid to keep asking “why?”

Closed Questions

Closed questions will come in handy if you want to confirm what a candidate is saying, get hard facts or conclude the discussion. Be careful as closed questions can be a conversation killer if used at the wrong time!

  • Was it successful?
  • Did you pass the exam?
  • Are you happy to....?
  • Did it go well?
  • Can you start next week?

Put yourself in the candidates shoes

Being interviewed can be a nerve wracking experience. Try to put the candidate as ease by being friendly. You want to find out how the candidate will work day to day rather than in a high pressure situation. Be honest and give the candidate a thorough and realistic understanding of the job and culture so when you do employ someone you can be sure they want to be there.

Manage their expectations

Managing the candidate’s expectations is an important part of good interviewing.  Make sure that you explain what’s going to happen next, how long the process is going to take and how and when you’ll get back to them.  Remember a great candidate will be looking at other opportunities so if you say you will let them know by the end of the week then try to ensure that happens.

Don’t be tempted to offer a candidate during the interview however fantastic they are!  It’s important to have some time to reflect and to make sure you have a clear idea of the salary and details of the offer you can make, as well as the candidate’s expectations. If you are using a specialist recruiter they will have all the facts about the candidates’ package and reasons for looking for a new job. Discussing this before we make an offer can make all the difference to whether they accept or decline.

Finally, it’s important to give constructive feedback to candidates who have not been successful and leave them with a positive view of you and your organisation.

What do you think makes a great interviewer?

For more advice read our article ‘How to attract the best talent’

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