Holding a Professional and Effective Interview

Recruiting Partner

When it comes to interviewing, we expect the candidate to arrive, professional and prepared – This will create an effective interview and should make everything run smoothly.
However to secure the best candidates, as employers we need to think about how we can arrive professional and prepared too. The candidate will make a judgement of our business as soon as they arrive, so you want to make the best possible impression.

The Logistics

The logistics are all important, as they make sure the interview gets off on the right foot. In advance, as well as letting the candidate know the time, date and location of the interview you need to also let them know:

• Who will be part of the interview? The full names and job titles.
• How long will the interview last?
• If they need to prepare anything in advance, such as a presentation, be clear on the requirements, and let them know what presentation tools will be available. (e.g. laptop)
• Anything else they need to bring, perhaps to prove their identity (e.g. passport)

This will ensure the candidate arrives with a good idea of who will be part of the interview and what is expected of them. You need to think about the internal logistics too – do you need to book a meeting room? Do you have all their information to hand? Can you make sure you’re not interrupted during the meeting? Do you have all the necessary technology for the presentation?
When all these things are considered, and an employee arrives for an interview in a comfortable environment, it tells them that this employer takes recruitment seriously, and that they are interested and invested in them as a candidate. Also, when candidates feel comfortable in their surroundings they tend to be more open and receptive, which allows you to get a better idea of who they are.

The Questioning

Once you have the scene set, you need to think about the questioning. Make sure you prepare questions in advance, and decide the structure that the interview will take, so you don’t find yourself with any awkward silences as you search for the next question. However try not to read from the paper, or focus too much on asking every question, as you may find you’re not listening to the answers.

Asking open questions that require more than a yes/no answer will help you learn more about the candidate. Questions can be broken down in to four distinct areas:

GENERAL – Questions such as “what are your strengths and weaknesses?”, or “what motivates you?” would fall in to this category. These are open questions that will start to build a picture of the candidate’s character.

COMPETENCY – “Tell me about a time you’ve had to find an unusual solution to a business problem, and what the outcome was?” Competency questions allow you to learn more about a candidate’s business experience and the level of involvement they have in their current role. It also requires the candidate to deliver clear examples, giving you an even better picture of who they are.

SCENARIO – Here is where you can give the candidate a scenario, to see how they respond, such as, “An angry client calls, they feel their account isn’t being handled as well as it should”, their response will give you an idea of how they would cope with the challenges of your business.

LOGISTICS – “Currently you live in the North, what would you do if you were offered the position?”, “what are your salary expectations?”, questions like this are essential, however should be asked at the end, as they can lead the interview in a different direction. If you have reservations about a candidate based on their location or salary requirements it’s a good chance to get answers to your concerns.

Some interviewers are taught to ask difficult and challenging questions, to get a real feel for a candidate, however this can end up with the interviewee shutting down and turning defensive, essentially lead to an ineffective interview.

The Feedback and Follow-Up

Be clear at the end of the interview on what the next steps will be, and the timescale of when the employee can expect to hear. Candidates cite this as one of the most annoying parts of recruitment, waiting for a response following an interview.

Give feedback to unsuccessful candidates too. You need to remember they have invested time in preparing for their interview, so it’s good for them to feel that it hasn’t been a waste of time. It also leaves them with a good impression of the business, and encourages them to apply again and recommend the business to others in their field.

Peter Forshaw, Managing Director, Maxwell Stephens