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Conducting a job interview: A guide to getting it right

To get the right staff, the interview is as crucial for you as it is for the candidate

So you’ve got some job candidates – now for the interview. Many people end up taking interviews with little or no training. Big mistake. Anyone involved in the recruitment process should have received training to do so. Otherwise interviews are an unstructured mess and it is impossible to make valid predictions about candidates on this basis. All your interviewers should use the same structure of questions, and apply these equally to all candidates.

Think about how you establish candidate suitability from an interview. You know what you want – if you’d drawn up a profile, as advised – how do you know if your candidate has it?

Interviews have to be planned really carefully. There is often very little time available, during which you need to elicit many details. Double check the accuracy of information you already have about the client. Questions like “So you worked at x for y years?” can help here.

Use this information as way of getting more details from the candidate. Ask for elaboration on work history and specific skills experience. Establish that skills are transferable by asking the candidate to respond to a hypothetical scenario: “What would you do if…?”

It’s also good to find out the candidate’s likely motivation for applying for this position, their career plans and ambitions. You need to be sure that you are able to respond to these needs and work with this candidate. If the person needs to be a good communicator for the position vacant, this can be discerned from the way in which the candidate conveys personal information.

Other tips from the Institute of Personnel and Development:

  • Never let first impressions influence judgements.
  • Be aware of personal prejudices.
  • Always give candidates the chance to ask questions about the job and your company.
  • Plan ahead so you aren’t caught out or short of time.
  • Always inform candidates about the job conditions prior to interview. Then you don’t waste time interviewing people who will reject offers because of insufficient reward.
  • Tell candidates how you’ll be getting in touch with them, whether it is phone, mail, pigeon, and how soon after their interview.

These guidelines should assist in overcoming the obstacles involved in finding competent staff. The next hurdle is to ensure that these competent people stay with your company.

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