In the world of business, a crucial element of any management role is ensuring that the best possible people surround you. Whether they fill a gap in skills or are very competent in their chosen profession, those people can make or break any corporate team. If you can be directly involved in the recruitment of these candidates, then you have a relatively short period to decide whether they are the perfect fit.
There are hundreds of features out there for those attending interviews, including right here on our site. However, the role of the interviewer is often overlooked, and this is what we seek to rectify here. The following tips have been brought together to ensure that those that not yet consider themselves interview experts will have all the tools required to be confident that they have made the right call.
1. Be Prepared
You may well know the role offered inside and out, but it is important to ensure that your vision, along with the company values, align with the organisation. Rather than turning up to the interview like any other meeting, ensure you are well versed in the requirements and qualifications for the role, along with everything that the job entails. Candidates are encouraged to ask their questions, and an interviewer should be familiar with the direction of the company, employee benefits and anything else a candidate could reasonably expect their interviewer to know.
2. Focus on Comfort
Even the most nervous candidates will acclimatise to their new surroundings when hired, and you want to gain an insight into how they act when in such a comfortable position. This means putting them at ease from the beginning, and can be achieved by offering a drink, leading the conversation and taking an interest in what they have to say. This can also start before the interview begins – if it is a group session, takes place with others or anything else that could catch them off guard, let them know in advance.
3. Consider the First Interview a Template
It is rare for the perfect candidate to be the first to walk through the door. Even if they are, it makes business sense to see who else is out there. Ultimately, the hiring decision comes down to which candidate represents the best fit and consistent questioning will make direct comparisons easier.
4. Take an Interest in the Candidate
If all goes well, you will be working with the interviewee for many years to come and starting to get to know them commences before you even meet. Thoroughly review their application and familiarise yourself with other potential sources of information such as their social profiles. It is not essential to know a prospective candidate as well as you know yourself, and it is important to avoid preconceptions. However, a working knowledge of what to expect can drive questions and conversations during the interview.
5. Cut Back on Formality
While the interview process is inherently formal, interviewers are likely to achieve better results by taking a more laid back, conversational approach. You want to see what the candidate is really like rather than any façade that they have put on for the process. Encouraging them to speak freely and conversationally will afford the best chances of ideal results.
6. Move Away from Rigidity
You will have questions in mind and a direction in which you wish to go with the interview. However, there is much to be gained from allowing the candidate to lead the conversation in different directions. This should be accepted as it could be an opportunity for them to stand out in the crowd. As long as there is still time to get the most pertinent questions in, this should not be a problem.
7. The Interview is about Them
Your role as the interviewer is to lead the conversation, not to fill the empty air. Once the core questions have been asked, the ideal candidate will usually ask any questions they may have, reducing the need for further input on your part. Ideally, over 3 quarters of the entire interview should involve the candidate speaking.
8. Silence is a Tool
In interviews with all but the chattiest candidates, there are bound to be periods of natural silence. It is important not to go out of your way to fill this silence when it could be beneficial. During these momentary pauses, you can absorb and consider what you have been told so far, and the candidate can take the time to think of further information or any questions that may be relevant at the time.
9. Consider a Real Task
Without looking to get into the realms of unpaid work, it can be worthwhile to have a candidate carry out a simple task within the interview. This can be directly related to the role or perhaps one of any number of tests and problems that have been tried and tested by interviewers for decades. It should fit the tone of the interview and not take too much time, and there are few better ways of judging a candidate’s appropriateness for a role than seeing them in action.
10. Follow Up with Good Candidates
As anyone that has ever failed a job interview will attest, there is nothing quite like being left hanging and hearing nothing. This can come down to time, and it may be difficult to contact everyone interviewed. However, if you see value in a candidate, even if you are unable to offer them the role currently, it reflects well on you and your company to follow up with them. This may lead to new opportunities further down the line, or positive word of mouth for an otherwise unsuccessful applicant.