Interviewing 102 – The advantage of having a PREPARED Interview Guide….

Managers need to enter the interview process with a clear PURPOSE and OUTCOME in mind…. You want to employ a great new employee who is capable and fits in with the organization culture and with the existing team…. Therefore, it is essential for PROCESS to support this!!!

An Interview gives you the opportunity to meet your potential new employee and assess their suitability for the role…… and vice versa…. That is, the potential new employee needs to determine whether the role and the company will be a fit for them.

To make decisions on suitability, information needs to be gathered and exchanged between both the interviewing manager and the potential new employee……. and this needs to be repeated at each interview…… In most cases, a Manager will interview 3-5 candidates for a role.

It is important to have an INTERVIEW PROCESS in place to ensure that you:

  • Are Gathering and exchanging information that is relevant and pertinent to the role you want to fill.
  • Have sufficient details at the end of the interview to assess the potential employee/s’ specific capabilities and fit for the role.
  • Can review particular details for each candidate again once all interviews have been completed! It is rare to find an “Ideal” candidate that ticks all the boxes…. Rather you are likely to be making a decision between 2 candidates that tick different boxes…… And you need to clearly recall and consider who ticks which boxes…… And which boxes are more important and critical to the role.

The most effective way to carry out and support the Interview Process is to use a tailored INTERVIEW GUIDE.

Taking the time to carefully consider what specific skills, capabilities, experience and approaches you NEED from the new employee to successfully carry out the requirements of your role…. and to fit in with your work culture and team…. And Forming questions targeting those key criteria…. WILL ensure that you have the best opportunity to identify a genuinely great new employee… Not just someone you like.

Important factors for a Quality Interview Guide:

  1. Remember – it is a GUIDE to steer and lead you through the interview, NOT a hard and fast must follow – You may have a candidate that is clearly lacking the abilities for your role, so you may choose not to ask all the questions…. A candidate may cover details that answer more than one question in a response…. You may need or want to ask follow-on or additional questions.
  2. ALWAYS start by providing an Introduction & Overview of the Business & Role – This will allow the candidate to relax a little and to gain a better understanding of the work environment. Be honest and positive, but don’t waffle for too long…. this should be about 5-10 minutes & must provide a general background.
  3. Be sure to review their resume and clarify important information such as:
    • Required Qualification, Certifications & Licences
    • Dates of employment – How long they were there (people often only include “years” in their resume and not the start and “end months”)
    • Why they left their recent roles
  4. Your initial two question for the candidate should be general and allow them to talk about themselves – Again, this will allow them to shake off the nervousness…. You are likely to get more information that is genuine and accurate if the candidate is feeling comfortable.
  5. NEVER ask CLOSED QUESTIONS – Yes or No answers serve limited purpose.
  6. Ask 8 to 10 Questions…. No more than that – Interviews are draining for both the Interviewer and the Candidate.
  7. Questions should VARY between BEHAVIOURAL, SCENARIO BASED and TARGETED GENERAL Questions – This will allow you to gather details from the candidate about their related experience and capabilities….
    • Behavioural Interview Questions utilise the STAR (Situation, Task, Action & Result) technique and premise the concept that “someone’s recent behaviour or actions are a likely indicator of their future action”. Even though this is the MOST reliable source of information gathering in an interview…. it takes practice for the interviewer to encourage candidates to focus on SPECIFIC EXAMPLES to answer the questions and to draw down further to focus on important areas. The tendency for candidates is to respond with generalisations i.e. “Normally I…. Most of the time I….” etc. This does not help!!! You need the candidate to be able to elaborate on what THEY ACTUALLY DID…. the process they followed…. and how they handled the situation. You will then be able to decide if they have the actual experience and approach to enable them to carry out the functions of your role.
    • Scenario Based Questions require you to detail a likely situation they would have within the role – and ask them to detail what they would do in that situation. The disadvantage of this style of questioning, is that what candidates “think” they will do in situation compared to what they “actually” do, can be very different. However, it is still a good source of information – especially if the interviewer effectively draws down further to really test key areas.
    • Targeted General Questions allow you to find out details about specific general areas such as their experience with particular software, motivations and approaches – this too relies on the interviewer effectively drawing down on key areas.
  8. Provide the Candidate with an Opportunity to ask Questions.
  9. Discuss the Salary and Work Hours for the role – Don’t be afraid to ask the candidate about their current or most recent salary and to confirm that you are both on the same page. There is no point selecting a candidate and offering the role based on a salary that does not meet their needs or expectations.
  10. Confirm Referees and their Contact DetailsName, Position, Company, Phone, Email…. for 3 Managers/Supervisors from their most recent positions (best practice is to speak with 2 referees – in my experience there is ALWAYS a referee that cannot be reached, so asking for 3 will save time).
  11. Outline the Process from here – Let them know when you will be finalising your decision (this should be within 1-3 days maximum).

Having a Process and Interview Guide does NOT mean that the interview has to be rigid and impersonal. It is important for both parties to leave the interview with a realistic impression of each other, the work environment and the role. It takes practice for you as a Manager to carry out interviews that bridge the gap between conducting an Interrogation and having a Chat.

Always remember that candidates will ALWAYS be nervous in an interview and actually EXPECT you to ask questions about their experience and abilities.

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