The art of interviewing is multi-faceted and one of the most difficult skills to get right.
Anyone can interview anybody, but to be able to consistently extract quality information so that you can properly assess a candidate requires a lot of practice and know-how.
Whether you are calling or emailing the candidates to confirm the interview, make sure you set out expectations in terms of structure, feedback and of course, details of who they are meeting and where.
Personally, I like to include a link to the interviewers LinkedIn profile to ease the candidate a little into the interview.
A question that I come across regularly is to what extend should we prepare an interviewee for an interview?
For most, interviews are nerve wracking experiences. Having to sell yourself to someone you don’t know for what might be your dream job is daunting. My personal opinion is that you should provide all candidates with some preparation. Here are some information you should be sharing:
- Interviewers style – are they really structured in their approach and go through each question in order, or if they are more conversational and ask questions in no particular order but through the conversation.
- Types of questions which might be asked – “Tell me about what you know about our company”. Avoid revealing the actual questions as examples.
- Provide any other useful information which may include a potential assessment during the interview, a role play etc.
- If nerves are an issue, I tell the candidate to listen to one of their favourite songs right beforehand, or take in a warm cup of tea or coffee and hold onto that during the start of the interview. Do something which calms them.
You invest so much time in attracting and screening for the right person, you want to ensure they have the best opportunity to sell themselves.
Always remember that both the interviewer and interviewee are assessing one another. Both parties are selling to each other. With that in mind here are some best practice tips when interviewing;
Be on time
If you are running behind let the candidate know and apologise for the delay.
Introduce yourself. Help ease their nerves to get a truer sense of who they are. “how was your day/weekend” “Did you find the office ok?”
Consistency is key
Have an interview template with set questions to ask of all candidates being interviewed. It allows you to better compare the candidates.
Asking additional questions is fine, but you need to ensure you are asking them of the other candidates. You simply cannot compare three candidates who have been asked three different sets of questions.
Two is better than one
I prefer to have two people interviewing. One person to take notes, whilst the other (e.g. hiring manager) conducts the interview.
It is difficult to effectively listen and take notes at the same time. If you don’t have the luxury, ask the candidate if you can record the interview.
Again, you need to save this in accordance with Australian data privacy principles.
Set the scene
Set expectations around timing of interview, format of interview, what you expect to get out of the interview, whether you might be expecting an interruption (urgent call).
Example: “Thanks for coming in today Jane, todays interview will take approximately 60 minutes. I’ll start with a brief overview of the company, my role, and our department. I have a number of questions to ask and I will be looking for real examples from your previous roles. I will be taking notes. Once I have finished with my questions, I’ll tell you more about the role, and provide you with an opportunity to ask questions. We’ll then close the interview and explain next steps. Before we commence, if the interview goes for longer than 60 minutes are you ok for extra time? Tell me what you know about the role and company before I start off.”
Who, where, what, how, why
Your questions should follow the following format:
- Tell me about a time you did X. What was the issue, Who did you involve, Why did you make that decision, would you do it differently?
- What has been the greatest challenge in your career to date? What was the challenge, how did you approach it, who was involved, did you get the outcome you wanted, what would you do differently?
Formula: Question + Who + What + How + Why = Answer
When the candidate answers, you want to hear them say “I” rather than “we”. I did this, I did that. If they use “we”, ask them what specifically was your role/did you do. Don’t be afraid to really interrogate the answer if you are not finding the detail you require.
As mentioned during the phone screen you must avoid questioning which may be considered discriminatory. Stay away from questions around religion, sexual orientation and preferences, parenting concerns etc.
Shut up and listen
If you the interviewer find yourself talking for most of the allocated time, you are doing it wrong. 70 percent of the talking should be the candidate being interviewed answering your questions.
Let them ask questions
Be honest with them when answering. Don’t oversell, because the reality is if they are successful and what you have sold is not what is on offer, they will leave.
Once again, any notes taken during the interview must be saved in accordance with Australian data privacy principles.
Provide constructive feedback as to how they performed in the interview.
To close out, recap details such as availability and remuneration. Set expectations in terms of next steps whether they be further interviews or assessments as well as interview feedback.
I also like to close by asking whether the company and opportunity still align to what they are looking for and whether they are keen to proceed if the opportunity presents. This helps reinforce level of interest if in the event they become a preferred candidate who may have multiple offers being considered.
Cover image: Shutterstock
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