How to Conduct the Perfect Interview

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Can your company afford another bad hire?

Too many businesses face significant costs by failing to hire the right people.

Bad recruitment costs UK companies thousands of pounds annually, with 85 percent of HR decision-makers admitting their organisation has made a bad hire.

Of course, everyone believes they are a good judge of character. But ‘knowing’ a candidate is right for the job is a poor substitute for an evidence-based decision.

While organisations agree that people are their greatest resource, the dirty little secret is that few HR professionals have had any formal interview training.

Conducting the perfect interview isn’t an impossible task; use these interview tips to simplify the process. Whittling down the candidates to a core group lets you invest time and energy in nailing the interview process with the right people.


Telephone Interviews

The humble telephone is your secret weapon to streamlining the interview process. If you are sitting with a stack of eligible candidates, this simple exercise can identify the weaker applicants and save everyone some time. Telephone interviews are also used by companies who want to avoid any hint of visual biases.

The bare bones information on a CV doesn’t give away clues about a candidate’s personality. A half-hour spent on a telephone interview reveals a lot about the character on the other end of the line. Even short conversations can give a glimpse into the emotional intelligence and social IQ of an applicant.

Preparation is the key to any successful interview process, and telephone interviews are no exception.

  •         Have a thorough understanding of what the job requires
  •         Make a list or notes of the topics you want to discuss
  •         Dig into each CV and make notes for your telephone interview questions
  •         Check out the applicants’ references
  •         Look at their social media profiles

It’s important to remember that the candidate is evaluating you as much as you are scrutinising them. By preparing ahead of time, you are conveying the message that you know what you’re looking for.


The Face-to-Face Interview

Pre-screening candidates via phone or video before conducting individual, face-to-face interviews will save time and costs. Meeting face-to-face is undoubtedly the most ubiquitous and productive way to conduct an interview, building rapport and giving insights into a candidate’s character.

As much as you are offering the candidate a job, this applicant is also considering investing a portion of their life with you. It’s important that you really sell your company and take the opportunity to boost the candidate’s enthusiasm for the role.

Interviews tend to run from 30 minutes to an hour, and they give the interviewer the opportunity to:

  •         Assess the person
  •         Test their commitment
  •         Read their body language
  •         Delve beyond the CV

Set the scene for a successful interview. Whatever space you use – whether it’s an office or a boardroom – should be welcoming, uncluttered, and private. Take your time; don’t rush. Small talk can break the ice and show the candidate you’re glad to meet them.

Time of day is also important. Early morning or late afternoon interviews are appreciated by most working candidates who can then take a half day off from their current employer.  

Once again, preparation is the key to conveying polished know-how. Formulate your questions to ask in the interview and points you want to discuss well ahead of time.

10 Best Classic Interview Questions  

Recruiters often wrestle with suitable interview questions for job applicants, and the internet is awash with lists of suggestions. Although some can run to 100 questions, here are the top classic interview questions that pop up most often.

  1. Why do you want this job?
  2. What is your greatest strength?
  3. What is your greatest weakness?
  4. With so many talented candidates, why should we hire you?
  5. Where do you see yourself in five years?
  6. What would your last boss say about you?
  7. What’s your greatest career achievement so far?
  8. What would you like to accomplish in this company?
  9. Do you think of yourself as a team player?
  10. What are your thoughts about working nights and weekends?

10 Great Interview Questions From Top CEOs

If you are looking for inspiration for some less common questions to ask in your next interview try using some of these from top CEOs:

  1. What would you change about our product/business? (Analytical candidates will have done their research, and focus 5% on the problem and 95% on the solution)
  2. What is one cultural phenomenon you want nothing to do with? (Informed and articulate people will not be afraid of disagreement and voicing their opinions)
  3. Which book are you currently reading? (Curious people are always looking to better themselves through books, blogs, audiobooks, webinars, talks etc.)
  4. What do you do outside of work? (Successful people understand the importance of work-life balance – physical fitness, relationships, contribution and learning)
  5. If you did not have to work, what would you do? (Motivated people will have long-term goals, those without may go on a permanent holiday)
  6. What has been the biggest let down in your career so far? (Everyone experiences disappointment at some point during their career, what is important is who the candidate blames, what they learnt and how they harnessed it to improve themselves)
  7. Teach me something I don’t already know. (The hiring department at Google uses this question – it can reveal a candidate’s unique skill and creativity)
  8. What were the characteristics of the best boss you’ve ever had? (Exposes the type of people your candidate will thrive under, and whether they will fit into your company culture)
  9. What’s the biggest misconception about you and why? (Self-awareness and open-mindedness are some of the most important qualities in leaders – this question answers both)
  10. Who is your hero and why? (High-achieving candidates will had role models with admirable qualities that they try and live up to)”


The Second Interview

When a candidate is asked back for a second interview, it confirms that the company is genuinely interested in hiring them.

For most businesses, hiring an employee after just one interview is somewhat unusual. Shortlisted applicants can be called back for a second interview to give you the opportunity to find out more about their credentials and continued interest.

At this stage your shortlist has been honed down to a few top candidates. With talent of this caliber you are not only offering them a job, but making your company stand out among the other proposals they will have received.

Now is the time to emphasize the human aspects of the role and what your organisation has to offer. Great features like flexi time, telecommuting or health and wellness programs can sway a candidate’s decision.

Many times the second job interview is the point where the terms of an employment offer are negotiated. You should explain to the applicant what the second interview includes and who else will be involved.

Before the interview, review any notes you have and share them with the other participants. The purpose of a second interview is to dig deeper into the candidate’s qualifications and revisit elements of special interest to your organisation.

The potential employee may have questions that were not addressed during the first interview. Your comprehensive answers here will give the impression that the company welcomes full disclosure.

 

The Group Interview

Group interviews aren’t used often in the modern recruitment process, but on a crowded playing field, they offer candidates the opportunity to stand out.

This interviewing process is particularly suited to jobs where teamwork is a vital part of the role. You can conduct your group interview as you would an individual face-to-face interview, using the same typical interview questions directed to the whole group.

Another approach is to treat the interview similar to an assessment day, with short introductions followed by group activities and tasks. Group interviews usually last about an hour, and you may want other interviewers to assist so no one is passed over.


Truly Effective Interviewers Don’t Neglect to Follow Up

You need to keep your candidates in the loop. It may be a simple human courtesy, but it makes good business sense when the interview is a candidate’s only glimpse into how your business functions.

The following stats illustrate the importance of the interview process and its impact on organisational reputation:

“83 percent of talent say a negative interview experience can change their mind about a role or company they once liked.

87 percent of talent say that a positive interview experience can change their mind about a role or company they once doubted.”

Keeping candidates up-to-date in a timely, considerate manner, shines a spotlight on your organisation’s values. Respectful updates on the process send the message that your company operates at a higher standard when it comes to its human assets.

Every candidate leaves your office with a lasting impression of you and your company. Make each interview a positive experience and your organisation will never lack for great applicants.

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