HOW TO DEVELOP THE PERFECT JOB INTERVIEW

December 2021

 

You’ve received top quality applications for the vacancy the company has advertised. Now that you’ve narrowed down the closest matches for that position, it is time to get to know your favourite candidates. But you want to make sure you get the most out of the interview, know that the candidates you interview are the real deal, that they are a good skill and cultural fit, and that they have the right combination of characteristics to work for the team you are hiring for.

Fortunately, this doesn’t have to be a random process. Well-structured, targeted job interviews can put you on track to make the best hire you can. We’ll take you through a few job interviewing tips.

Job interview preparation

Benjamin Franklin famously said that failing to prepare is preparing to fail. Preparation arms you with information about your candidates – and what information you don’t have. So, in building the perfect job interview, preparation is the all-important starting point.

Assess all applications

You must know what you have in mind. You want to select the best match for your company. So you don’t want to miss out on great potential candidates because you didn’t review their applications properly. If you have too many applications and too little time to review them all, a telephone scanning interview can quickly put you on track. Some state-of-the-art HR software systems incorporate artificial intelligence (AI) or specific scanning questionnaires to weed out less appropriate applications before anyone views them.

Write specific questions

Know what you want to know from each candidate. Write down specific questions to assess and compare each candidate with the rest of the group and get good insights into who the closest match would be for your organisation. During each interview, different candidates might answer some questions differently, which would give you some clues as to whether you have further questions specifically tailored to that candidate. Ask these questions, even if you haven’t scripted them because they will give you greater insights into whether the candidate is the right match.

Know the intangibles

A CV doesn’t tell the whole story. Each person comes with their own unique experiences and life skills. Ask yourself what the specific behaviours are that you’re looking for. You might be looking for a great team player, but also someone with excellent client-relation skills. Then these are the qualities you want to dig for when you’re interviewing.

Know what you are looking for

It might seem obvious that you should know what you’re looking for, but if you haven’t defined it crystal clear in your own mind, you might end up with a mismatch.

Know what qualities you want, which of these are non-negotiable and which ones you can tolerate if someone is not a perfect fit for them. Test the qualities with specific questions during the interview.

Upon selection of candidates

You have done your pre-interview homework. You know what you’re looking for and what will culturally fit best with your company and within the team that you’re recruiting for. You’ve invited the candidates, you’re armed with your questions, and now the interviews are happening. Here are a few tips for conducting interviews.

Tip 1: Remember the company culture

If your company culture puts teamwork and collaboration as a top quality, a lone wolf probably won’t be happy in your organisation.

Know what your company values in your employees, and what your employees value in you as an employer.

 Tip 2: Put the candidate at ease

You can conduct interviews either in person or on a video conferencing tool. Either way, the same principles apply.

Break the ice by introducing yourself. It signals respect and eases tension the candidate may have. Be self-assured and take the lead. Signal this through your body language too, since the candidate will be taking their lead from you and watching for the non-verbal cues to assess how they are doing.

A great next step in the interview would be to ask general questions. You want to get to know the person, and they want to get to know a little bit more about your company. As the interview progresses, you can ask increasingly more specific questions.

Tip 3: Have colleagues join you but not too many

Having a colleague to join you in the interview can bring a different viewpoint into your selection process. For example, let the hiring manager and a HR colleague join in the interview. HR would have a broader, company-wide view and offer insights from that angle, while the hiring manager would know the team chemistry more intimately.

However, beware that too many interviewers can be intimidating and counter-productive.

Tip 4: Add real-scenario questions

Situational or real-scenario interview questions allow you to understand how a candidate would handle real-life situations, giving you a sense of how they tackle problems, what they value or might overlook.

Tip 5: Get a good feel of how the candidate thinks and communicates

Interviews give you great insights into how a candidate communicates, what they are thinking and how they express their thinking. Often this is important to assess if candidates are to work remotely. When the interview is well underway, you can ask questions specifically about communication and problem-solving. Look for body language and other signs that reveal a person’s attitude towards work and situations.

Things to remember when developing a job interview process

Interviews are get-to-know tools. They are generic in nature, and at the same time to reap the maximum benefit, they must be tailored for each candidate, specific job descriptions and different teams. There are a few components to keep in mind when conducting interviews that will help you to get the most out of the interviewing process.

Each job is different

When you’re recruiting for a specific role, the skillset, behaviours and experience will vary from job to job. Therefore a single interviewing approach for different positions will simply not extract the information you need to make the best choice. Interview for the specific job. Do your homework, construct your questions, and research thoroughly what skills are most important for the job and the company – for each vacancy, independently.

Adapt your questions

Ask questions that will encourage candidates to reveal their skills specific to the duties and responsibilities of the position you are recruiting for. You will get a good sense of strengths and weaknesses if you ask open-ended questions that have sentence or paragraph answers, as opposed to just “yes” or “no”.

Keep company culture in mind but don’t obsess about it

Company culture is important when you recruit. The candidate must align with your company personality. However, over-emphasising company culture can damage prospects with well-suited candidates. Most often, candidates relate to aspects of your specific company culture and agree with these, meaning that they’ll easily adapt, even if they haven’t worked in a specific culture like yours before.

Have relevant colleagues join the interview process

If you do invite colleagues to the interview, ensure they have a reason to be there. Often you would have the hiring manager present and perhaps an HR person. If the role is quite technical, a person with the appropriate technical knowledge might sit in on the interview.

The advantage for having more than one interviewer is that you will get different perspectives of the candidate’s responses.

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