Interviews may not be a perfect way of ascertaining the future performance of a potential employee, but their success is very much relative to the skill of the person conducting them.
As the market becomes more candidate-led, we are increasingly hearing more horror stories about terrible interviews. The reasons for this may be personal, professional or organizational, but the frustrating thing is that most of them are avoidable. Here are my top seven tactics of the best company interviewers:
They foster a conversation. Don’t embark on a waffling monologue. Candidates engage when there is a conversation which answers their questions and where they feel that your questions are being answered. Monologues never accomplish this. You may feel that what you are talking about is important for them to know, but it is ever so easy to lose someone’s attention.
They tell their story. Don’t blast a candidate with facts that they could have found out on your website. Reveal the human side of your company whenever you get a chance – this is what they are interested in. Anecdotes are a great way of communicating your culture. Telling a story takes effort – the candidate will appreciate it.
They feel free to explore. The best interviews go off on a tangent – get creative. When candidates are asked about a different perspective, they often reveal far more about themselves than the standard “what did you achieve at X?” questions. When you ask a creative question, you get a creative answer, and the interview experience is often far more enjoyable.
They keep focussed. While getting creative is important to allow a candidate to paint a rounded picture, interviewers should keep the interview based around the role, the industry and the relevant personal experience of the candidate. If you start to wander onto musings about the wider world, the candidate may wonder about how serious your intentions are.
They maintain an interest. If you are not taking an active part in the interview (if there is a group interview for example), you should still maintain an active interest. Don’t fall asleep if the subject matter is less than gripping! One of your colleagues will no doubt be evaluating the responses more closely. There is nothing worse for a candidate than feeling that one of the interviewers is disengaged.
They don’t get personal. Don’t allow your personal views to enter into an interview situation. An interviewer’s role is to objectively assess a candidate’s suitability for a given role, not make moral judgements based on their own values system. Leave prejudices at the door – difficult as it may be sometimes.
They listen, respond, listen. Interviewing isn’t so difficult really. You ask a question – you listen to the answer. You let the candidate understand that you have understood their perspective, and you move on to the next logical question. Don’t batter your candidates into submission by a machine-gunning of random and unrelated questions. They will lose their track of thought, and there is nothing worse than a disjointed interview. Ensure that the questions have a logical flow – allow the interview to develop by itself.
This all comes down to one word. They engage with their candidates, and they will perform to their best ability. The best hiring decisions are made based on a number of processes – a well-conducted interview is certainly one of them.
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