Interviewing is often portrayed as a difficult thing to get right. Research does show that on average you have got a 50% chance of getting it right! But that is if you do not use structured interviewing and other methods to determine whether the person can actually do the job.
So here are my eight top tips – distilled into three words – Preparation, Curiosity, and Listening:
1. Before you even advertise, prepare a description of the job, and the skills, experiences and abilities that you think the person who could do that job would have (the person specification). Make them as clear and concise as you can, and write your advert/social media approach based on these descriptions.
2. Prepare your interview questions based on the person specification. If you can’t find something by interview, e.g. a computer programme skill, test for it. If later you find the person appointed cannot do some aspect of the job it is probably because you did not interview or test for it.
3. Listen carefully. You should only be doing 10 to 20% of the talking. You need to listen carefully for language, as well as content.
4. Work with a colleague and prepare so you know who will ask which questions. Make sure you work as a team and follow the question plan you prepared. It is important for the candidate to see you as a team – they will choose an organisation that looks friendly and professional! Rocking up five minutes before the interview starts with no previous preparation will be clear to the candidate.
5. Make sure you ask for specific examples of work they have done – drill down to find out exactly what their role involved.
6. Allow plenty of time and never take less than an hour. Give them time to ask you questions and make sure you spend at least a few minutes explaining the job, the team, the organisation, and key and often forgotten, the pay and how it increases or any bonus structure.
7. NEVER appoint just because someone is the best of a bad bunch. It’s better to advertise again than appoint the wrong person.
8. When I ask people if they have ever had to dismiss anyone, 9 out of 10 who answer yes agree that the reason for dismissal is normally that the person COULD do the job, but WOULD NOT do it in the way required. Their behaviour was the problem, not their ability to do the job. That’s why behavioural interviewing is used by most organisations now. So never take anyone on who causes you any concern at interview – who comes across a little aggressive, or cocky or conceited. Any traits given away when in an interview when they are on their best behaviour will be ten times as bad in the workplace!
Huge thanks to my work colleague and friend, Sue Kellaway for contributing this guest blog:
Sue Kellaway has many years’ experience of working at management level in recruitment within the private, local government, higher education and government sectors. She has interviewed hundreds (possibly thousands) of people, undertaken many assessment centres and tests and never ceases to be interested in finding out about people and their careers – “there is always something new and different”.