You have advertised for a new employee and have started receiving applications from a range of candidates who believe that they have the right skills, experience and who want to work for your business. The next step is to shortlist and conduct a job interview to determine which candidate should be hired.
So, how do you go about ensuring you are getting the most out of the job interview?
Firstly, lets understand what is a job interview and what is its purpose.
Job interviews are a key part in the recruitment and selection process of a new employee. They consist of a conversation between a candidate and representatives from the business. It is an opportunity to gather more information about the candidate all whilst making an assessment of how the candidate will perform in the role and fit into the business. It is also an opportunity for the candidate to gather more information about their potential new employer.
Lets understand what is required to get the most out of a job interview. Follow these six simple steps to conduct an effective interview.
Know the role
Before you meet your potential candidates, consider the requirements of the role and the requirements of the individual. Make a list of what are the non negotiable requirements and what can be taught.
Revisit the candidates application
Prepare for your interview by re-reading any information provided by the candidate. This includes their resume, cover letter and key selection criteria. Note any areas requiring clarification, such as puzzling job titles or unexplained gaps in work history or clarification on level of responsibility and accountability of tasks / positions.
Plan the interview structure
Consider what information has already been received during the application process. Prepare your interview questions to ensure that you are covering off all elements of the role and the candidate. Determine before the interview which panel member will ask each question. It can also be helpful to list some follow up questions or example responses.
Allow time in the interview for unstructured conversation, including whilst welcoming the candidate, outlining the role and the company as well as an opportunity for the candidate to ask additional questions. Having a structured interview process will ensure that the panel members are able to fairly compare candidates.
Research has also shown that structured behavioural interviews are much better at predicting future performance. There is the saying that the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior, which is why these types of questions are the most powerful.
For example, questions that begin with something like “tell me about a time when….” are particularly useful. This allows the candidate to provide an example of specific behaviours they have demonstrated in the past that relate to those they will need to show in the future if they are to be successful in this new role.
Example Interview Questions
Reassess your interview questions and consider work-related questions that showcase fit, ability and willingness. This includes questions which enable the candidate to draw upon their knowledge, experience and cultural fit.
- Which future trends do you think will impact [product, service, industry]
- How do you build your knowledge?
- What would you most like to learn here that would help you in the future?
- Tell me about a work related setback that you have faced. How did you deal with it?
- Describe a project or idea that you identified and was implemented. What was your role?
- Looking forward 12 months, what would you have achieved to feel like you have been successful in your role?
- Describe a time you felt you were right but you still had to follow opposing directions or guidelines
- What makes you excited to get up and go to work each day?
- What do you need from me (and my team) to be successful?
So while the traditional interview questions still have a place, such as during the pre-screening, the above will provide you with a thoughtful and challenging set of questions giving you better information for making decisions.
Assist candidates to prepare
Give the candidates as much information as you can about the interview process to help them feel more comfortable and relaxed during the process and in turn you will have a more effective interview. This includes outlining what is involved (behaviour based questions, group assessments, testing), and who will be attending the interview from the business. It can also assist candidates to prepare for the interview by either telling them in advance what topics you will discuss in the interview or allowing them 5-10 minutes before the interview to see the questions and prepare some answers. Be flexible around when you conduct the interview.
Evaluate the interview
Once you’ve asked all these questions, the job interview process can still produce a poor outcome if you don’t have clear evaluation criteria. Set a simple five point rating scale for each question. This will assist you to fairly compare each candidate.
Finally, the data from the interviews need to be integrated with all other data collected during the recruitment and selection process (e.g. resume, key selection criteria, reference checking and testing) in order to help make an objective hiring decision.
If you are able to create a job interview process that follow these basics guidelines you will significantly increase your chances of “getting it right”. Small Business Society. is able to assist with developing your recruitment process.
The information provided in this document is for your guidance only and is general in nature. It does not constitute as legal advice. It is the responsibility of the individual to seek legal advice where required. If you are a small business with less than 15 employees your obligations may vary from the advice provided.
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About Kate Tongue
Kate Tongue is the founding Director of Small Business Society.
She is a qualified and experienced Human Resources professional with more than 10 years of experience across the private and public sectors.
Her particular interest and experience is in managing the employee life cycle, delivering process improvements, and Human Resource strategy.
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