9th September 2019
It’s no secret that if you want to really ace an interview and land yourself with a job offer once all is said and done, you have to be prepared – it’s the number one thing that employers expect from the candidates that they meet with when hiring for a new position.
With that being said, the onus doesn’t just stop at the interviewee. As a hiring manager, there are a number of things that you need to be aware before even looking at CVs and applications if you intend to get the utmost from the hiring process and find the absolute best person for the role you are looking to fill.
It may surprise you to know that asking the right questions, listening to the responses that are given and reacting to the discussion accordingly can have a big impact on the direction that an interview can take and can really help to understand whether the person sitting in front of you is the right fit for not only the job itself, but your company as a whole.
Below, we look at some things that you can do in order to ensure that you get the most out of any interview.
Ease In Gently
Being nervous in an interview is completely normal and should not be a disqualifying factor. Accommodate differences in personality, communication style, and social presence – introverts who are clearly nervous or uncomfortable may be the best hires you’ll ever make.
Many great people are terrified of job interviews and may not come across as their best selves so be sure to dig for the gold under the surface.
Start with a question that focuses on the candidate rather than why they are there, such as ‘do you live locally?’ or ‘what have you been doing with your day so far?’. This will help to ease any interview jitters that they have and humanise the interaction, relaxing the atmosphere and starting the conversation off on safe ground while allowing you to get that all important first impression of the potential hire. You never know – you might even get a good story out of it, too.
Adopt the Personal Approach
Having a soft style that coaxes informative and useful answers from candidates in a must, and that can only be achieved by building a personal and friendly rapport with them from the get-go. Don’t be afraid to stray off-topic from time to time to discuss a shared interest or that hyped up news story that’s on everyone’s lips, so long as you remain aware of the time and can efficiently divert the flow of conversation back to the subject at hand. Not only will having this type of exchange assist the atmosphere in the meeting room, but you will also be able to establish the foundation of a relationship which can be built on should the candidate end up working for you.
Ask Open-Ended Questions
Of course, you will always have to ask certain questions that require specific answers – ‘what is your current job title?’ or ‘how long were you in your previous role?’, for example – but the most interesting (and perhaps most informative) responses come from open-ended questions.
Try asking your applicants questions such as:
‘What is your vision for our company five years from now with you in the position of…?’
‘Can you tell me about any potential consequences that might result from that?’
‘How would you overcome those issues in the event that they might arise?’
While these questions may seem irrelevant to the interview, they are the perfect opportunity for you to get a better understanding of the applicant’s work ethic and what they could offer your company.
Ask About Things you don’t Already Know
You’ll already have a base knowledge of the candidate you’re interviewing from their application, CV and covering letter. In some cases, you might have already spoken to them briefly during a telephone or video interview, too, which will give you a slightly better insight into who they are before meeting with them face-to-face; and while you should definitely ask questions that cover that information to ensure that you have the right details, make sure that you save plenty of time to ask them things that you aren’t already aware of. At the end of the day, the whole purpose of an interview is to get to know an applicant to ascertain whether they are the right fit for the job.
Try to Avoid Sending Advanced Questions
Sometimes, having to send over questions ahead of time is totally unavoidable. Especially if you are on a tight deadline with multiple people to interview. However, it should be noted that this is not ideal and, wherever possible, should be avoided at all costs.
The trouble with advanced questions is that, while the answers you get sent back may be completely adequate and cover what you want to know, the candidate is able to spend their time composing the ‘perfect’ answer which will not reflect the otherwise candid interaction you might have gotten from a face-to-face question.
It’s only fair to allow the applicant the opportunity to prepare as best as they can, so, by all means, let them in on the topics you wish to discuss, but make sure to leave the specifics out of it so that there is still some element of authenticity during the interview itself.
Do your Homework
You’ll get a pretty good idea of who the interviewee is during your meeting; however, in the Social Media era that we are in today, it doesn’t do any harm to do a bit of background checking to see how they conduct themselves online.
Seeing what they share and post on Facebook or Twitter, if they’re associated with any clubs or forums is a perfect way for you to find out whether they will be a good reflection of your company. The last thing you want is to hire a person with a known track record of slandering their employer or colleagues in a public forum.
Equally, looking into their online activity could give you some brilliant and unique icebreaker questions or topics to explore during the interview.
Listen to Them
If you ask a candidate to you about themselves, listen out for how they communicate their value proposition for the role. The answer you want to get from that particular question will be articulated and tell you why they are great for the role. Less prepared or interested applicants might present themselves more generically and talk more about themselves than about how they will fulfil the needs of this job, so be careful.
Ask for Specific Examples
If a candidate tells you that they are good at something, ask them to be more specific and provide examples of times that they have demonstrated it.
For example, ‘one of my strengths is working well both individually and as part of a team’ should be followed up with, ‘can you please tell me about a time when you achieved good results from independent working compared to a time when you had to work as a team to achieve an end goal?’ and ‘I drive for results’ should be followed up with, ‘could you please give me an example of a situation where you drove results, what your role was, and the outcomes of your actions.’
Have they researched your company?
It’s less about what the candidate knows about your company and what it does than it is about them demonstrating that they have the initiative to put in some work in order to prepare.
Listen for indications that they have researched your company, the job qualifications, and requirements and whether they are able to talk about your products, values, and vision. All very easy tidbits that can usually be easily found on the company website. Candidates who haven’t done due diligence prior to the interview may not be the right fit.
Clarisse works as the Lead of our Customer Support Team to provide all of our customers with the very best care and guidance when using their HR software.