Once you’ve shortlisted your choice of suitable candidates, it’s time to set up a first stage interview — the foremost step in deciding whether they are a match for your business or vice versa. Read on for our guide to top interview techniques.
Setting up an interview
- Will they be held face-to-face or virtually via video call?
- Will candidates be required to present any tasks or a presentation?
- How many people will be leading the interview and what are their job titles?
- Will it be a one-to-one or group format?
Once you’ve whittled down applications and invited prospective candidates to interview, be courteous by providing this information ahead of time to allow interviewees to prepare. If the interview is to be held at your HQ for example, make sure the room is well-lit and inviting, and adheres to all current social distancing and hygiene regulations to ensure it is COVID-secure.
What’s equally as important, does a candidate require any accessibility measures in place? (for example, a British Sign Language interpreter or extra time to answer questions) Do they have a time or date preference? Finalising such details prior to meeting will ensure a professional and positive experience for both you and the interviewee.
When selecting candidates for interview, in order to remain objective, it is important to be aware of the risk of unconscious bias. This makes us naturally gravitate toward those with similar interests and ideas. Also known as implicit bias, this notion refers to the automatic, preconceived social ideas, stereotypes or prejudices about an individual or group that affects how we communicate with them. It can apply to a variety of factors, including race, age, gender or sexual orientation, and can be extremely damaging when it comes to hiring staff.
While a candidate may possess the requisite criteria, internalised preconceptions could affect the decision-making process when it comes to shortlisting them. Learning to recognise and address this way of thinking in the first instance is the first step to eliminating it and ensuring a diverse, inclusive workplace.
To tackle unconscious bias, once you have recognised a negative thought pattern, address it straightaway by asking yourself: ‘is this opinion exactly true?’ ‘what proof do I have?’ addressing those ideologies will raise awareness in yourself and others going forward. You could also incorporate diversity training techniques into your training programmes to educate your workforce and ensure biases can be recognised and eradicated going forward.
Tips for the interviewer
As the skilled interviewer who will lead the conversation, making sure you are well prepared is critical to ensuring a professional representation of your company. Practice is recommended but try not to sound robotic in your delivery of questions. A potentially high-pressure experience, it is important to make the candidate feel comfortable. Create a safe, relaxed environment — this will increase your chance of hiring well. Small gestures like offering a glass of water will help them feel at ease in your presence and improve the chance of them confidently showcasing their suitability.
As the conversation progresses, the interview may naturally head a little off course — so it is important to be flexible — but stay mindful of structure to ensure you leave with all the information you need. Which creative, niche, communicative or interpersonal skills must they possess to be successful within the role? Being well-informed of the job responsibilities and benefits will also help you answer any potential questions they may have.
Consistency is key. Ask every candidate the same set of open-ended, relevant questions; this will help you collate and compare the best answers when it comes to the selection process.
While an interview is not just a one-sided conversation, avoid controlling the meeting and talking too much about yourself and your experiences within the company. The candidate will expect (and deserves) adequate time to showcase their accomplishments, so make sure they have the chance to do that.
When the time comes to select the successful candidate, it is good etiquette to provide interview feedback to those who were not selected. Be sure to thank them for their interest. It is never easy breaking the news they didn’t get the role, but constructive, relevant feedback will give them confidence for future applications and a positive view that your company treats people with respect. This feedback can be sent via email, letter or phone call depending on how far they make it through the interview process.
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