Google ‘interviews’ and there is no shortage of advice, videos and adverts about how to manage and prepare for a good interview. But if you’re the interviewee.
Having sat on the other side of the table for pushing twenty years now (with this hat on) I thought it was about time I jot down some thoughts and advice from the employers’ point of view. Without doubt, for the majority of businesses operating today, their people are the strongest and weakest link… so get that right, and the rest should follow.
- Preparation! Make sure you’re clear on the type of person being sought (first) and the role they will play (second) within the company.
- Don’t ignore the importance of location when interviewing – it reflects the company, your ethos, and your people. Make sure it’s somewhere quiet – confidential – and clean!
- Always have the CV to hand… I’m hopeless, embarrassingly hopeless at names…
- If interviewing more than one candidate, ask all the applicants the same basic questions. Without this it is likely that decisions can be tilted by personal likes and preferences.
- I usually always interview with a colleague – two approaches give a broader insight and a wider opportunity for the candidate.
- Candidates get nervous, so setting out the approach to the interview, the structure and time frames will help to build their confidence. Smiles and friendly acknowledgement go a long way to help build a candidate’s confidence. Body language, as ever, is key to getting the best out of anyone you work with. Never more so than in an interview.
There are various interview styles, and everyone will have their own approach. My own approach is informal and conversational but remember it’s their interview, not yours (I remind myself of that every time). Keep wording open ended, and questions neutral (they’re both a skill in itself). And be careful about asking too many ‘whys’ thus putting the candidate into a defensive position (in my experience why is usually the least effective question in order to truly understand the candidate in front of you).
‘Give me an example’ will invariably receive a more detailed response than ‘do you’. And write notes. If you’re anything like me, you’ll never remember.
Any interview should address behaviours, in what a person has done or is doing; opinions, values and feelings – as well as their background and knowledge (and Id prioritise it in that order). As I’ve often reminded myself, and those I work with, let’s hire for attitude and train for skill… it’s the far easier way round.
Always end the interview on a friendly note and confirm the follow up process. Work to tight timescales if you can, and don’t be afraid to ask for a second interview if you need to.
Remember, the object is to hire the best person for the job not the best interviewee on the day. And ultimately go with your gut.