Interviewing candidates is a very important part of the staff recruitment process. Preparing yourself properly and selecting a few important questions beforehand will help you with getting to know and effectively evaluating the candidates.
It’s not so simple, though – to ensure your staff recruitment’s success rate will be high, there’s plenty to do before, during and after your candidate interview. As first things always come first – how philosophical of me – let’s start with what you should do before your candidate interview.
Prepare yourself – What to do before the Candidate Interview
Everyone gets nervous at job interviews, it’s an almost rule. The interviewer can either help put candidates at ease or make them even more nervous, it’s all up to you. Helping the candidates relax will ensure both you and them can have the most out of the interview so, do your best to reduce the stress. And how on earth can you do that, you may be wondering – here’s what I’m here to tell you.
From the moment they arrive at your company, make them feel welcome. Make sure every candidate is greeted and, if necessary, escorted to where the interview will take place. Start the candidate interview with low key questions, try asking personal – but not too personal – questions to get them at ease and absolutely don’t jump right in to technical questions.
Be open minded and leave your judgement out of the interview room. Don’t rely on first impressions and don’t let them cloud your judgement. A person you may dismiss by first impressions may end up being a rough diamond that just needs a little polishing. Thoroughly evaluate the candidate’s potential and give everyone the same fair chance to impress you.
It’s showtime – During the Candidate Interview
Before grilling the candidate about their education and past job experiences, start by telling them something about the position they’re being interviewed for. While the interview is more about the candidate and less about the interviewer, you’re more than allowed to take some time for a brief job summary.
Enlighten your candidate about the prime responsibilities and key challenges, how does your reporting structure and performance evaluation work, and so on. Giving he/she some guidelines will help them get focused and provide you with the relevant responses you’re looking for.
Make sure your interview doesn’t look automated and scripted. Even though you’re expected to plan your main questions ahead, you’re not obligated to stick to them and them only. You’re more than allowed to improvise and be responsive to the answers and information the candidate provides you with. Use the information on the candidate’s answers to build new questions and dig deeper on important information.
Every interviewer in your company should be aware and work accordingly to your legal interviewing guidelines. The most effective way to keep your interviews compliant is to introduce questions that specifically relate to the job – this will ensure you’ll only elicit relevant information for your interview.
Remind yourself of your role as an interviewer – you’re there to listen more than you talk. If you let yourself do most of the talking, how do you expect to obtain the information you need to determine the candidate’s true capacity? If you’re wondering how much of the time you can talk and how much you should listen, work with a 20/80 ratio. Talk for 20% of the time and for the rest, sit back and listen.
Unless you have a very, very effective memory, you won’t be able to remember everything the candidate says during the interview so, take notes! Of course you’re not expected to write a full transcription of you candidate interview, stick to the important points, examples and any other information you may get back to when evaluating the candidate later. As you prepared your questions in advance, make yourself an “interview guide” to help you with some structure for capturing all the key info.
As the main character of the interview, give the candidate space to ask questions (this can be a very, very valuable part of the candidate interview). Let he/she ask away and focus on figuring out why is it they decided to apply for this job: are they driven by the challenges, your industry/company or just thinking about salary and benefits?
If the candidate you’re interviewing doesn’t come up with any questions – specially candidates for senior-level spots – raise a red flag. Make sure to make notes of the questions they asked and, if you can’t provide the answer immediately, make sure to follow up later.
Time to evaluate – After the Candidate Interview
At the end of your interview, let your candidate know when they can expect to hear back from you. Many – and I highlight many – interviewers make false promises and forget to provide follow-up to candidates, leaving them hanging in expectation of a call/e-mail that never comes.
If the candidate seems like a good fit during the interview, be clear about what will the next steps be. If, on the contrary, he/she doesn’t seem quite adequate for this position, always end up the interview with a positive – but genuine – note. Don’t tell the candidate you’ll call if you don’t mean it.
After you’re done interviewing all candidates, it’s time for the post interview evaluation. Compare the notes you’ve made and advance the hiring decision. Be prepared to back up your chosen candidates with examples and notes you’ve extracted from the interview.
If you decide on further interviewing with the finalists to help you decide between those that look like valuable opportunities, use this time to ask deeper questions and really learn more about them. Consider adding dynamics and exercises – such as strategic thinking or practical “what would you do in this situation” exercises involving real business challengers they may face if they’re hired.
Leave candidates with a good image of your company
The job market is a very, very competitive place and, as much as the candidates are selling themselves for this position, you’re also responsible for selling yourself as part of the company. Always treat people with politeness and kindness during interview processes, leave the candidate with a positive image of your company and ensure you won’t lose them as potential candidates in the future.
The way your company proceeds with candidate interviews should reflect the values of the company, as well as the value you give to each candidate and, therefore, each employee. Be an exceptional company ambassador by conducting your interviews professionally, keeping honest communication with the candidates and, most importantly, basing your hiring decisions on honest evaluation of each and every candidate. This will ensure you’ll not only hire the best candidate but will also keep your doors open for future possibilities.
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