A job interview is nearly as hard for the interviewer as it is for the interviewee.
If you’re about to screen some candidates for a vacant role, here are seven best-practice interview guidelines, according to recruitment firm Robert Half:
1. Plan your questions and your techniques
A good interview sure doesn’t have to be tough or gruelling, but planning questions in advance is important in order to glean what you really want to know.
Add in some behavioural questions, such as: “How did you solve a recent challenge?” This will provide insight into a candidate’s initiative, problem-solving and teamwork skills.
2. Develop an interview framework
An interview structure works fourfold: it’ll keep you on track; it’ll cover the ground you need to cover in a limited timeframe; it’ll help you avoid forgetting critical questions or getting sidetracked; and eliminate any rude surprises for the candidate.
A typical interview structure will involve the interviewee outlining the company and the role, followed by questions to the candidate, and then the opportunity for the candidate to ask questions of their own. Start by letting the candidate know how the interview will progress.
3. Review the candidate’s resume, and take notes
This will help you form questions to pose to the candidate – don’t make the mistake of asking a question that could’ve been answered by a cursory glance at the candidate’s resume.
And if you’re interviewing several people for the role, take notes down to help jog your memory later on and avoid confusing applicants.
For candidates, failing to listen is the single worst thing you can do in an interview. And for hiring managers, it’s similarly important to listen well to avoid missing key comments by the candidate.
Reflect on the candidate’s language. Does it sound too rehearsed or does the response sincerely reflect the individual?
5. Read body language
It’s normal for candidates to be nervous – fidgeting, nervous laughter and rapid speech can be expected, to a certain extent.
However, there are other dead giveaways that point towards a person’s confidence, competence and capability, such as the way they hold themselves and their eye contact (or lack thereof).
Chances are, you’ll already be able to feel whether they’re engaged or interested during the interview – too-frequent checking of their watch or worse, their phone are big no-nos.
On the flipside, as hiring manager you’ll also have to be mindful of demonstrating interest in your body language, too!
6. Keep it professional
It can be polite and tempting to ask about a candidate’s hobbies or interests (just don’t ask them about their age, religious status, or family plans). However, Robert Half points out that employers need to avoid hiring for likeability rather than the best-equipped person for the job.
This is where an interview framework comes in handy. If the conversation starts to veer too far away from your discussion points, bring it back.
7. Confirm next steps
Candidates will likely be eager to know ‘where to from here?’, so it’s a good idea for employers to address how they will follow up at the close of the interview. Outline the means of communication, thank the candidate for their time, and give them a date by which you will respond to them.
“It’s a professional courtesy that reflects well on both you and the organisation,” Robert Half said.
Don’t forget: as likely the candidate’s first point of contact, you’re being assessed on first impressions just as the candidate is by you!
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