Conducting interviews

When you reach the stage of interviewing candidates it’s a good idea to remember that this is not code for interrogation. Ostensibly you, the interviewer are in control of the meeting but that responsibility needs to be tempered with the understanding that you’ll be judged on how attractive you and your company are on the basis of the meeting. Good candidates will always have options so if you put them off your business by adopting an interrogative style then there’ll be no going back. To add insult to injury, they’ll tell anyone else they know that the business wasn’t great at interviewing and that the interviewer was an arrogant so & so etc.

What we’re not saying is give the candidates an easy ride and don’t ask taxing questions. But before you do get stuck in, put the candidate at ease ask some light, social questions, get to know a little bit more about them and set a friendly and respectful tone. Both interviewer and interviewee will perform better if they are relaxed and feel comfortable with each other.

So to make the interview really work the key is:

  • Preparation – Understand your role in depth and in detail
  • Preparation – Read the candidates CV, check out their social network profiles and pick up informal references if you can.
  • Preparation – Create a suite of questions to create an understanding of skills match, culture fit and the candidate’s desire to join your business

…and what that means in practice is:

  • Prepare a thorough job specification with as much detail as is practical and necessary for the candidate to understand the role. Prepare to be questioned closely on detail points and other aspects. A well prepared and motivated candidate will ask questions (it’s a great sign)
  • Spend some time reviewing the candidates CV so that you can go directly to relevant points made and ask pertinent questions. If you shuffle about looking for information to allow you to ask questions then you’ll look unprofessional. The social network information will help in understanding broader interests, connections, viewpoints (good or bad) and attitudes, behaviours and values. No bad thing given what you want is an alignment in those for both the candidate and the business.
  • Spend time thinking about what it is you want to get from the candidate and prepare the questions. Using the same questions for each candidate will help you score them more effectively and ultimately build a profile that can be used for subsequent on boarding or objective setting etc.