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How To Conduct A Successful Interview

A quick guide as to how you can conduct an effective interview, to increase the quality of your hires.

An interview - either face to face or via a video call - is the perfect opportunity to establish whether a candidate is a good fit for your position.

It provides you with the opportunity to drill deeper into where the candidate's skills and attributes lie. The interview allows you to information gather and get a feeling for the intangibles, such as passion, initiative, goals, cultural fit, attitudes, and communication skills.

Try to relax the candidate before going into the hard-hitting questions

The first question can have astounding implications upon how successful your interview goes in terms of information gathering about the candidate. If you start off with a prickly question, then you will likely push to candidate towards a more reserved defensive mode for the rest of the interview. When if you ask them a softer question, such as "I see you play football on your CV, what team do you support?", that can really pay dividends later down the line and lead to a better candidate experience.

Make sure you ask open-ended questions

To really take an interview past a generic closed off conversation littered with business acronyms - towards something which is a bit more revealing - you need to be asking effective open-ended questions. Like all things in life, the more bespoke and well-thought of questions can really take you through the candidate's career-path and help you make an informed decision as to whether they'll really be right for the role that you have available.

The difficulty is that many recruiters and hiring managers can actually be deterred from asking the hard-hitting questions - out of fear that it may either upset or turn-off the candidate. Yet, you do sometimes need to tread the line with matters like this, to get the full picture.

Tip: Treat your candidates like your customers by making them feel appreciated and comfortable.

Listening is key

You can take a lot more out of an interview if you let the candidate speak more. Obviously, you need to keep on topic and keep it relevant with your questions, however you can learn a whole lot more if you actually listen rather than talk over them every 10 seconds. What you want to keep a look out for is if they have done their research on the business. Not just standard information e.g. the date the company was founded, but ideally a genuine understanding of what your business actually does. It's also advised to leave time at the end for the candidate to ask you questions about the role and what the day-to-day duties entail.

Look out for the non-verbal signs

It's worth evaluating the non-verbal side of things to get the full picture on what the candidates really like. Are they slumped in their chair? Have they made an effort to look smart? Do they look hygienic? All these signs can let you towards a more well-rounded opinion of the candidate and whether they'll fit in with the team's culture.

Make sure that you (the interviewer) have also done your research

As the interview, it can be easy to fall into the trap of becoming a little complacent and expecting the candidate to do all the hard-work. Yet, you need to make sure that the interview is both well planned out and covers all the key elements to give the candidate the best picture of what the role will actually entail. A poorly planned interview will either end up by:

  • Having long awkward gaps of silence.

  • Not provide the candidate with the key information about the role - what the daily duties are, the work dress-code, what the salary will be etc.

  • Not have a flowing theme or structure to the interview and have a scatter-gun approach.

Finish the interview strongly and be thankful for their time

When the interview is coming to a close, it's important to thank the candidate for their time and do the simple pleasantries of walking them to the door. It's a nice addition to let the candidate know what to expect following the interview i.e. when will they hear back regarding a second interview. Once the interview has been completed, it can be a good idea to discuss the interview with another decision-maker regarding how it all went, whilst it's fresh on your mind (failing that, you can always take some quick notes).

Candidate check-list, do they tick these key boxes?

  • Did they turn up on a time?

  • Upon arrival, were they courteous and respectful?

  • Were the candidates dressed smartly?

  • Are they effective communicators in terms of positive tonality and body language (this is more important for some positions than other i.e. customer services vs a finance role.)

  • Are they qualified enough for the role in terms of both education and soft skills?

It'll be great to hear your thoughts in the comment section below with any tips or problems that you have when running an interview?

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