Top tips for conducting effective interviews

In these times of uncertainty, few companies are still recruiting and growing. Many have elected to maintain their current size and structure until the economic landscape improves. Gradwell is among the few bucking this trend; the Company’s planned growth, underpinned by its 4×4 plan remains strong and on track.

We recognise the value of having the right people in the right roles to drive our success. Therefore, we understand the importance of effective interviewing. We know that getting the right person goes straight to the bottom line so encourage our recruiting managers not to look at this as a chore. Interviewing is not something keeping them from doing their ‘proper’ jobs, but an essential part of ensuring the future success of the organisation.

The interview is the final part of the selection process and is about checking how well the candidates meet the criteria set for the role. They can take many forms but the purpose always remains the same – getting the right person for the job. If an interviewer is unprepared or unskilled he/she can potentially do harm by leaving the candidate with an incorrect impression of the organisation.

Preparation

So what do we do to ensure that we are prepared and skilled? We are clear about the role required, so we will review the job description. It is only then possible to start thinking about the kind of person that would fit the role, taking into account their qualifications, skills and experience. We have strong values here so an added consideration will be whether the candidate will be a good fit with the company. This is not something we are able to gauge before meeting the candidate, but we know that we need to consider this as we plan the interview.

The next step involves shortlisting the CVs received internally or externally (we like personal recommendations because Gradwell people know other potential Gradwell people). At this point, it’s very important to consider what form the interview will take and whether it will be necessary for candidates to undertake any skills assessment and how that will be done.  Skills assessments are about testing the likely level of performance of the candidate in the role and is not designed to ‘catch out’ candidates, so we make sure that they are clear and unambiguous.

The right questions will be central to the ability of the interviewer to effectively assess the skills and attributes of a candidate, so time must be spent writing these – consider whether they will be competency/behavioural based? Make sure that questions are appropriate to the level of the role and the skills needed. This sets expectations for both the candidate and the interviewer. There’s no point in asking a receptionist to explain how VoIP works or asking a candidate about line management experience if they will not be required to do it.

In you are unsure or unfamiliar with UK discrimination law, read your company’s Recruitment Policy and Equality and Diversity Policy to ensure that you are aware of any potential forms of discrimination so that you can avoid them.

The interview

After you have allowed the candidate to settle in and you have made some light conversation to break the ice, tell them what is going to happen – the structure of the interview, any assessments and when they are likely to hear the outcome.

If time is spent on preparation, the interview should be successful.  So the advice here would be around self-awareness and staying ‘present’ – not allowing your attention to be drawn to other considerations and focusing on how the candidate is communicating with you.

Key to a good interview is allowing the candidate sufficient time to speak. Allow them to come back to a point, or guide them back to the relevant point if they begin to lose track of the question. In our experience, a sympathetic listener will elicit far more information from the candidate about their skills and experience than an impatient listener. Is it worth an extra five minutes of interview time to make sure you select the right person for the role?

Remember also that if you are speaking, then the candidate is not. If the interview is about getting as much information about the candidate as possible, then keep the time spent on questions to the level necessary to get your message or question across. Wait for the response – don’t talk over your candidates, it will prevent them from giving a full answer and they may leave without giving you the information you wanted.

Don’t forget that the interview is as much about the candidate gauging whether they would want to work for you as much and you gauging if they are right for your organisation – so make sure that you tell them why your organisation is great!

Finally, just a couple of things to remember that may appear obvious but often get forgotten:

  • Introduce yourself and anyone else in attendance – we all know that first impressions count so make a good one
  • Make sure a suitable room is selected
  • Turn off your mobile phone
  • Make sure that you are not interrupted
  • Have a jug of water at hand
  • Smile!

Post interview

Remember to contact candidates when you say that you will. It will not encourage them to accept any job offers if you can’t be relied upon to respond as promised.

Give fair and honest feedback without crushing a candidate by sticking to the criteria for the role. Never make it personal.

 

We are always happy to receive speculative CVs from potential candidates. Anyone interested in a career at Gradwell should send their CVs and a covering letter to Amanda Clapp, HR Manager amanda.clapp@gradwell.com 01225580537. Our careers website www.gradwell.com/aboutus/careers lists current vacancies

2012-12-03T09:50:18+00:00

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