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Interviewing Candidates: 7 steps for success

23 Feb 2015 by Sarah Leembruggen.

People are your company’s most valuable asset, and the market shows we want growth, which means hiring. You might have the schedule from hell but don’t scrimp on the time you allow for interviewing a potential new recruit. Get it wrong now and it will be costly down the line. A little bit of preparation will stand you in good stead.

1.  Plan ahead:  Know what key skills you are looking for and ask specific questions about them. Probe in depth about each area you are interested in and look for detailed examples of each competency. For instance problem resolution, communication or people management. 

2.  Keep it structured: Make the most of the time you have and use it for information gathering. You need to learn about the candidate, so give your interview a beginning, middle and an end. Let the applicant speak. Avoid the temptation to waffle and don’t let it lapse into a pleasant chat.  

3.  Prepare a list of questions: These should be broad, open questions that encourage the candidate to give examples of their achievements, challenges and abilities. If another team member is involved in the process, ensure you are asking the same questions, to allow you to make a fair comparison.  

4.  Don’t interview alone: Inevitably you’ll go with your own gut instinct, but it’s a good idea to hear someone else’s perspective and it’s vital if you’re working in a team. A post-interview wash-up session is often revealing.    

5.   Use technology: If you’re busy and want a quick result, a video interview is a good way to cut down the time and cost of recruiting at the preliminary stage.  You have the opportunity to see if the candidate’s skills match your company’s competencies, get an idea of personality and cultural fit. It’s a speedy way to fill in gaps on a CV and cover those fundamental questions relating to the vacancy.  

6.  Take notes: You are there to ask questions and listen carefully. Taking notes will help you to remember details of who said what, particularly if you are interviewing a number of people.

7.  Follow-up and feedback: Contact candidates as soon as possible after the completion of interviews. Ideally, give them some idea of when they might expect to hear before they leave. Feedback should be related to the skills and attributes of the job. Suggest appropriate ways that the applicant could develop, adapt or learn. Be positive and kind.

We’d love you to share your experiences of interviews, from either side of the desk. Hilarious howlers or odd interruptions? Tell all @theworksrecruit.

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