How to Conduct an Interview

The pile of job applications responding to your vacancy has been whittled down. Now, it’s time for the interview stage. This is your opportunity to get a better picture of the people behind the CVs and, hopefully, unearth the perfect candidate for the role.  

But, how do you get a true idea of a candidate’s suitability from what may only be up to an hour long meeting? How can you be sure of picking the person that is truly right for the role? Read on through this guide and you will be able to pick out the diamond from every set of interviews.  

1. Know What You Are Looking For

  It would be very tricky to find the right candidate if you weren’t really sure what they would look like. You should go into each interview with a pretty clear picture of the type of person that would fit the role. Be flexible, of course, but keep a clear set of standards to guide you.  

This means more than simply fitting a job description. If you have narrowed down the pile of CVs correctly, then each interviewee should be able to meet the job requirements. The interview process should be about picking a person, not a list of achievements. You are looking to determine how well a candidate will fit in the company, their personality, what they will bring to the role. You want to find someone that will benefit your company for the years to come, not someone that meets a checklist.  

Take a look at the key members of your staff and how they benefit the company. What attributes are shared in common between the other members of staff around the vacancy? What kind of personality would fill that gap and make your company better?  

2. Prepare Yourself

  Once you know what you’re looking for, you need to work out how to best find out what you need to know. Set out how you want the interview to go and what time you need to set aside to get the best result. You may find you get more from your interviews by including others in the interview time. Including a manager and/or peer from the same department as the vacant role will grant you not only a second opinion on each candidate, but a useful insight from those that know the role best. They may well spot a strength or shortcoming that you missed or had not considered.  

Next, consider what particular activities you want to include as part of your evaluation of each candidate. Maybe you want to see firsthand how they would handle the role, or perhaps you want to show them the rest of the department in action to get their views on how they would improve things. Ensure these activities have been properly arranged and you have all necessary materials to hand.  

You also, of course, need to fine-tune the questions you wish to ask about the candidate’s attitude and experience. Try to avoid questions that directly approach your interviewee’s personality, such as the dreaded “What is your greatest weakness?” You will never be sure of getting an honest answer to questions like this. You should, instead, ask them about experiences from their work history. How would they improve on mistakes they have made? What have they learned from successes? Questions like this will give you a much more honest look at their character this way, as well as uncovering insight into how they work.  

3. Cater to Their Comforts

  Interviews are incredibly stressful. We have all been sat in waiting rooms wondering what to expect and what we need to do to succeed. We have all wondered if we were underdressed for a role.  

For interviewers, this presents a problem. If your candidate is stressed, you are unlikely to get an accurate picture of what they are like. People underperform under stress and are more likely to hold back on answers. So, make sure each candidate is made as comfortable as possible. Schedule interviews at times convenient to them. Let them know what they will face during the interview. Tell them the office dress code. Make sure they can come to your door as prepared as they need to be to shine.   This goes for the day of the interview itself. Make sure that you stick to schedules and don’t keep candidates waiting too long. Ensure the interview is held somewhere quiet, comfortable and private. Keep introductions fairly formal to break the ice and get conversation flowing. Essentially, communicate with them as you would any other new acquaintance. They are human beings, not test subjects.  

4.Make the Interview a Two-Way Street

  As much as you need to focus on learning as much about each candidate as possible, you must avoid your interviews becoming too one-sided. Keep your questions open and be prepared to follow up on answers where possible. Try to keep a natural flow like in normal conversation and you will find the candidate opening up more and sharing more information and detail.  

Making notes on candidate responses is essential. Trying to rely on memory does no one any favours and the time you spend on careful note-taking is time that might provoke further information in answer to each question as interviewees are given time to think more over each question. It also helps keep the flow of conversation at a calm and natural pace.  

As much as the interview is your chance to evaluate candidates, it is also their chance to get an idea of you and your company. You should do your best to answer any questions they have about the company and showcase the benefit of working for you, particularly to the most promising candidates. Give them a good reason to say yes if you offer them the role.  

It is difficult to get a true picture of candidates from interview conditions but, essentially, if you can create a relaxing and natural atmosphere when conducting your interviews, you will easily come away with all the information you need to make your choice. Take time to consider your options with your interview team and always make sure you pick the best fit for the role rather than the better option from your current applicants. You are trying to improve your company with each hire, so make sure you settle for nothing less than the best person for the job.