Tips for Conducting the Interview

The interview is your opportunity to meet potential candidates face to face and explore who they are, what they’ve done in their careers, what they can bring to the organization and whether or not they’ll be a good fit. Good interviewing is more about listening than talking. It’s about asking relevant questions and understanding how to accurately assess the answers you receive.., If you want to secure the candidate of choice, it’s also about successfully promoting the role and your organization and “closing” the candidate wherever possible.

The following list of tips and pointers will guide you through the interviewing process:

  • Whenever possible, please try to be on time, it shows respect to the individual who maybe taking time out of their own workplace
  • Greet the candidate in a friendly non threatening fashion. While they need to make good eye contact with you, it works both ways. When you are walking the candidate to the interview room, take the time relax the candidate by asking some general, low-key questions
  • If you know the interview is going to be up to an hour, offer some refreshments
  • Ensure you have a copy of the job description and the candidates resume with you
  • Remember to take full notes when interviewing, so that you can reference them later
  • Take the candidate through your agenda and ask if they are okay with it
  • A typical agenda might involve:

A very short overview of the company and the role
A review of their resume, highlighting areas or interest
Discussion on culture and work environments
Expanded discussion on the role and company
Opportunity for them to ask questions
Next steps

  • Start by talking about the company and the role. At this stage, keep your comments to about five minutes. You need to be general here rather than specific, as your goal is to glean unbiased answers from the candidate
  • Start to review their resume, work chronologically from their first role to their current role. Spend more of your time focusing on experience in the last five years, as that is more relevant. However, it is important to cover the earlier years to gain insights into how the applicant has progressed, reasons for leaving and overall stability
  • Aim to gain both insights and information — here’s the type of things you’ll want to ask about:

Any gaps in employment — confirm employment dates and ask about employment dates, if missing.
Reasons for leaving roles/companies.
Significant achievements at each company.
Primary responsibilities at each company
Current remuneration, including bonuses and benefits.

  • Start to expand on areas of particular significance. For example, if you want to get insights into a particular skill or project they worked on; ask questions that are designed to give real life examples of behaviour the candidate has demonstrated in past roles
  • Ask candidates what they most enjoyed about their current role and organization and also what they least enjoyed. Repeat the question, but this time relate it to specifics in past roles/organizations. This will help you understand their likes and dislikes and whether or not they would be a “fit” for the role and your environment
  • If you feel at this stage you have a fairly exhaustive idea of what this candidate can do and what they are seeking and you’re interested in progressing them to the next stage, then spend some time talking about the role, the environment, the team and the company. Your goal here is to give the candidate a well and rounded view of the role and the company so they buy into all aspects. So while you’ll want to emphasis and expand on the really interesting parts, you also need to touch on (but not dwell on) some of the more mundane aspects of the job
  • Relate why most people, including you, really enjoy coming to work every day. And talk about what the candidate can learn and how they can grow. Promote and sell the role and organization. Be balanced and realistic but always positive. Your goal is to give the candidate a sense of what your organization is like to work for and ensure that by the end of the interview, they’ll have a good sense of the company and what you’re all about
  • If you feel you have all the information you need, ask them for their questions. If you really are interested in the candidate, express that to them and talk about next steps. You can even ask them how they feel about the process thus far. If you are unsure about the candidate or need more time to assess then, conclude the interview by thanking them for their time and outline the next steps in the process
  • When the candidate has left, take a moment to write down a quick summary and your overall impressions of the candidate. Highlight any notes you may want to further investigate at reference stage
  • If you think the candidate is a good fit and you liked them, then ensure next stage interviews or offers follow as quickly as possible
  • If you feel the candidate is not a good fit, then as a courtesy, let them know as soon as possible so that they do not entertain false hopes

General Points

The information in this document does not discuss any specific interviewing techniques, such as behavioural or competency based interviewing. If you really want to focus on improving your interviewing skills, there are many excellent courses available, including seminars offered by Vantage Resources. The premise behind behavioral interviewing is that “past behavior is the best predictor of future performance”.

It’s not that difficult to construct interview questions around past behaviors in different competency areas. The real gift is to understand and assess the answers to the questions to see whether or not you have a valid answer. As a general rule of thumb, always ask for specific examples that will demonstrate that the candidate has actual experience in a given area.

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