Key considerations for successful interviews
Before you start interviewing, have a clear idea of what you want your end result to be. Ask yourself:
• Why am I filling this role?
• What’s missing on this team?
• Who is the supervisor for this role, and what kind of person would work best under their style?
• What sort of person will fit in with my organization’s culture?
• What skills are am I willing to train for and what do I need to hire for?
Do your homework: review the job specifications and the candidate’s CV and supporting documents.
Be aware of and check your biases. To avoid confirmation bias or the effects of a first impression, evaluate the candidate after the interview. We all have biases of various sorts (‘He’s too young / old’, ‘She’s too ditsy / serious’, etc.) but good interviewers leave them outside the interview room and look for facts to support their hiring decision.
Create a quiet and comfortable interview environment. You will get more information out of a relaxed candidate.
Promote a positive image of your organisation. Even if the candidate is not successful, if they have a good experience, they will be more likely to speak highly of your organization.
Anticipate what questions the candidates might ask of you – be able to articulate clearly the role, reporting lines and basic company information.
Ask each candidate the same or very similar questions and set standardized scoring criteria, weighted if necessary, for each question.
Draw up the questions using your person specifications, checking how you will assess the candidate against each criterion. For instance, good writing skills may be visible in the CV but you may want to test writing skills in case someone else wrote their CV.
Avoid clichéd questions like “Where do you see yourself in five years?” and “What are your weaknesses?” People are used to these questions and usually have prepared a canned answer. To obtain a real answer, ask behavioural questions: e.g., “Identify a recent setback, tell me what you learned from it and what you’d do differently in the future”.
Top recruiters agree that there are only three true job interview questions:
1. Can you do the job?
2. Will you love the job?
3. Can we tolerate working with you?
Each question, however it is phrased, is basically a variation on one of these topics: Strength, Motivation and Fit. Determine what strengths, motivations and fit insights you are looking for before you go into your interviews.
Strength: Can you do the job?
Work out what strengths you’re looking for, tell the interviewee what they are and ask them for examples of behaviour that evidence those strengths. Determine whether it is an innate talent, how they acquired the knowledge and what they’ve done to practice the skill. Also, how can you assess their level of competence at those skills? They may have been doing a task badly for 15 years! Consider including an assessment task as part of the interview.
Motivation: Will you love the job?
In essence, motivation for job seekers boils down to three ‘goods’:
Good for others – does the role/organization match with their values?
Good at it – is it a match with their strengths?
Good for me – Does it fit with their interests and does it provide the right compensation?
Fit: Can we tolerate working with you?
Poor cultural fit is the number one reason for a new hire not working out. It would behoove both interviewers and interviewees to be completely honest here. However, do be careful with this. An organisation of clones is likely to come to harm before too long. Diversity is very important in making good, high functioning teams.
The fundamental questions to get at fit are:
1. Will the organization be better off with you in it over time?
2. Will you change us for the better/will you be good for us?
While there is no magic formula, effective interviewing is all about getting into the details and comparing what the candidate has accomplished to what needs to be accomplished.
“…being objective starts with being inquisitive.” – Lou Adler