We’ve already done a lot of work in getting to this point, but we can't rest just yet. Now we have even more planning to do!
We’ve filtered the applicants, made a short list of those who appear to be the best candidates for our vacancy, and come to a conclusion about skill testing and personality profiling.
Now it's time to send out invitations to interview. But before we do that, we need to...
Organise the interview team
It’s helpful to see all candidates on the same day if possible.
It’s also best to have more than one person interviewing the candidates, and if possible, someone to make notes.
If you are the decision maker but not the new employee's line manager (ie. they will report to an under-manager), make sure their direct line manager is also in the interview and their voice is heard in the decision making process.
Know the questions you’re going to ask
It’s obviously sensible to plan the interview(s) in advance, but having attended interviews with many employers I know it doesn’t always happen. Managers are often very busy, short of time, and ‘things just get in the way’.
But take note. You have a limited time to get to know the candidates (which is one of the reasons why skill testing and personality profiling is helpful) and assess whether they are the right person for the role and your organisation, so make the most of the time you invest with them at this stage.
Plan the questions you're going to ask. Think carefully about the role. Think about the personal attributes, education and experience needed. Make a list, and agree the list with colleagues on the interview panel.
(NB. Suggestions to help determine the questions will follow later!)
How many interviews?
I prefer a two stage interview process, but there’s no hard and fast rule.
Many managers hire at or after the first interview, and it’s not unusual to see decisions requiring three interviews, but I think two interviews strikes a good balance, and allows a pretty thorough selection process.
If you’ve decided to run on-line skill tests or personality / behavioural profiling prior to the interview, make sure you allow plenty of time, not just for the candidate to complete the tests, but also for you (and any other colleagues involved) to read and digest the results. The test results will almost certainly lead to additional questions that weren’t originally planned.
Interviews are often stressful for candidates, and they can also be stressful for employers who aren’t used to interviewing, or are short of time.
I think it’s helpful to keep in mind that interviews should be a two-way conversation. The hirer needs to explain their business and the role to the candidate so that they clearly understand what’s required, and that in turn enables the candidate to answer the questions appropriately and explain why they’re suitable for the role.
Likewise, candidates will have aspirations they want to achieve, so if you want them to come and work for you, you’ll need to listen carefully to what they say and explain how their aspirations can be achieved in your organisation. A two-way discussion is the key.
When the time comes to sit down with your interviewees, I’m always mindful of Dale Carnegie’s advice to “begin in a friendly way” and put the candidate at ease.
Thank them for coming, ask them about their journey, the weather, anything to help start a friendly, human conversation!
Then, help them settle down by telling them about your organisation and the role, so that they know precisely what you are looking for and they have the best chance of answering your questions appropriately.
Make notes during each interview, and hopefully at the end of the day you’ll have a consensus amongst your interview team, and invite the best one(s) back for second interview.
Staying on the right side of the law
There are certain subjects that should be avoided at interview. Even though well-intended, it’s all too easy to stumble into accidentally asking an inappropriate question that can lead to trouble.
Be aware that questions or comments related to the following should NOT be asked at interview. Anything that is linked to:
You can be in serious trouble both legally and financially if you ask a discriminatory question at interview even (or perhaps especially) if the candidate is not then offered the job. I'm sure we're all aware that there are compensation-seekers out there who will happily take our money if we give them the slightest opportunity.
Whilst at interview don’t forget to check and copy candidate’s original ID documents that prove their right to work in the UK. You’ll find more information about that here: https://www.gov.uk/check-job-applicant-right-to-work
The second interview
Assuming you hold a second interview, it's a great way to confirm (or otherwise) your first opinion about the candidate. The dynamic will have changed, the candidate(s) will think they know what to expect and will therefore be more open and relaxed.
Again it’s important to plan and list all the areas you wish to cover. This is your opportunity to clarify any issues that weren’t satisfactorily dealt with at the first interview, make sure no stone is left unturned and there are no remaining doubts about their suitability.
Thanks to Malcolm Hughes from The Work Point