Just like candidates, it’s important for you as the interviewer/employer to prepare for your interviews. Candidates spend so much time researching about the company they have an interview with, equally you as an interviewer should be ready to evaluate candidates properly and promote your company brand.
Preparation takes time but it will be worth it. Not only will you be able to evaluate the candidate’s skills more effectively, you will also be able to create a positive candidate experience – which is VERY important. In addition, you will be more likely to win over the candidate you’ll eventually want to make an offer to.
Now this isn’t everything, but I have added below a few useful tips for interview preparation to get you started on the right track.
Prepare a list of interview questions. Interviewers who don’t do this are missing out on the chance to evaluate candidates effectively. So how do you know what to ask first? I would always start with the job description. Determine which skills are the most important on the role you are about to interview for. If you are not the hiring manager, ask for help from the person that is. Then build a list of questions around those skills. Here are a couple of examples:
- Communication skills: ‘How would you respond to a negative phone call with one of our existing customers?’
- Leadership: ‘If your team is underperforming, in what ways would you motivate them?’
Some questions are overused, like:
‘What’s your greatest weakness’ probably won’t help you evaluate candidates. They are so widely used that most people will just search on Google to find sample responses. When I interviewed candidates, the questions I enjoyed asking the most were more behavioural or situational type questions. I found them more effective, because they encourage the person you are interviewing to think on their feet and tell their story.
Make sure all your interview questions to candidates are appropriate and legal.
Understand your candidates, get to know them
When you start to interview candidates, it’s best to avoid asking them for information that they have already given to you. e.g. sent in with their application or maybe information they have given to you over a telephone screening call. You will lose so much time and risk coming across unprepared in the candidate’s eyes. If they have sent you copies of certificates have those with you.
Take the time to properly read the candidates CV or application form
And make notes of any key points that concern you about their experience or their skills. Then, you can use the interview time to elaborate on these points or gather more information, such as reasons for why they left their last 3 positions.
An idea to keep yourself on track and to ensure you ask each candidate the same questions would be to create a template on Word, you could have a comments box under each question for you to make notes. This will also help to keep you on track and the flow of the interview will come across so much better.
You will also be asked questions, so be ready
An interview is a 2-way conversation. While you are evaluating the candidate, please remember they will also be evaluating you. Candidates will be trying to determine whether your company is a good place for them to work and does it ‘tick that box’ for them. They may ask you relevant questions which you need to be ready to answer. If you give pertinent, transparent answers, you will be able to create a much better candidate experience and sell your company in a way that helps the person you interview to decide if they are a good fit.
Preparing for these questions before the interview takes place will take a bit of time, but you will only need to do this probably once.
I would always talk to the candidates about:
- Your company’s mission and structure
- Your company’s direction and goals – and any team projects
- The benefits attached to the role you are recruiting for
- The next steps in the hiring process
- Finalise by asking them if they have any further questions
**Salary/Package; for some reason is sometimes left out of the interview process. I personally think it’s important to include it, then everything is clear, and the candidate leaves you with all their questions answered. You may need to consult with HR on this to check that you can divulge the pay scales/ranges.
Candidates may also ask you a question you don’t have the answer to OR, ask for information you can not disclose – just make sure you reply tactfully.
If you are planning on holding a panel interview you also need to prepare for this. Split the questions you intend to ask up between the team of people involved and determine who will ask which question and more importantly in what order. If a certain topic of conversation comes up in the interview, perhaps a question from the candidate, decide who on the panel will answer it if a certain subject comes up.
Planning your time
Interviews take time, so clear your diary for at least 15-20 minutes before and after each interview. Please don’t leave candidates waiting to be seen while you finish up a meeting or rush them out of the interview if you have a meeting to get to.
Giving them time and your full attention is more likely to earn their respect. If you’re doing a Skype, Facetime or WhatsApp interview, check your laptop, camera and microphone a few minutes before the interview so you’ll have time to correct any possible issues.
Determine how you’ll open the interview and how you’ll finish. Many interviewers make small talk at the beginning of an interview to help the candidate to relax. Another approach would be to begin by introducing yourself and the interview structure – what it looks like, how long they will be with you etc
The microphone is on, its over to you – sell it!
While you assess whether candidates are right for the job, candidates try to determine whether they want to work for you. If they’re convinced, they’re more likely to accept your job offer. Or they’ll still think well of your company, even if you don’t hire them in the end.
Prepare a checklist to sell your company and the position you’re hiring for. Here are some points you could go over:
- The main characteristics of your company culture.
- Any new developments or exciting plans (like new products, new offices etc.)
- Practices or techniques your company employs to keep employees happy and motivated.
- Challenges someone who works in the role you’re hiring for may face and how your company supports its employees (e.g. training, mentoring.)
- The place that the role has in your organisational structure and its contribution to your company’s success.
Also, listen to what candidates say that they’re looking for in their job to personalise your pitch.
These tips will help you step into interviews well-prepared, but they don’t guarantee you’ll interview candidates effectively.
Striving to become a better interviewer
In the long run can involve more challenging tasks, like educating yourself on biases, finding ways to overcome them and practising your interviewing skills in mock environments. An extra tip from me; You can always sit in front of a mirror and practice some of the questions, listen to how you say them and make a mental note of your body language. This all takes time but that’s how you can ultimately improve your decision-making (and candidate experience).