There is no right or wrong way of conducting an interview although it is important to be yourself and reflect your true personality (the only exception being when following a formal interview format where a hardline professional approach can be taken by the interviewer). Not only does this make you feel more comfortable (which will result in a better interview), it is also easier to see how well you ‘click’ with the applicant – don’t forget you may be spending a lot of time with this person!
Although an interview does not have to follow any particular format, outlined below is a generally accepted structure that will help you to achieve all the necessary goals. It is also important to remember that an interview is a two-way process and, as much as you need to assess the suitability of the applicant, you also need to sell the job and company to ensure the applicant is interested in progressing further. This structure will help the interview flow whilst achieving all this.
2. Initial ice-breaker questions
3. Company and job outline
4. Core questions
5. Applicant’s questions
- This starts the moment the applicant walks into the building.
- Make sure everyone is polite and professional.
- Once you start the interview, introduce yourself, your role, its relation to this job and your background.
- This is also a good way to help you relax into the interview.
2. Initial ice-breaker questions:
- Ask the candidate some very general questions about themselves so they can feel comfortable in the interview situation.
- This will help them to supply better and more elaborate answers later in the interview when you will want detail about key experiences relating to this job.
- Example questions: ‘Tell me about yourself’ or ‘What brings you here today?’
3. Company and job outline:
- This is your chance to sell the company and the job.
- It is important the candidate is interested and wanting to know more – particularly if they have other interviews in the pipeline.
- You do not need to tell them every last detail as they can ask you questions later in the interview but make it interesting and real.
4. Core questions:
- There are a number of different interview methods and types of questions that you can use to find out how a candidate’s skills, experiences and competencies match your requirements. Some are much more formal than others and some require more practice than others to perfect.
In short (and not exhaustive) the main methods are:
- Open questions: These are questions that don’t allow one word ‘yes’ and ‘no’ answers. They generally start with ‘Who, What, Where, When, How, Why’ and can be used in the initial ice-breaker stage or in the core questions if asked specifically, e.g.‘What has been the toughest decision you have had to make in your current job?
- Closed questions: These are usually asked when wanting to question about some factual element of an applicant’s CV. These will result is short answers either a fact or number or ‘yes/no’, e.g. How many people in the team you currently work in? Have you used SAP previously?
- Competency based questions: These are the most commonly asked type of question when investigating whether an applicant has the necessary suitability for a role. These questions ask the applicant to describe a past situation and how they dealt with it. The key to this is asking them lots of questions about every element of the situation in order to fully understand their exact involvement and full details.
The basis of this questioning is that an individual’s past performance is the best indicator of their future behaviour.
The interviewer is not judging the type of situation that the applicant describes but the specific competencies that are relevant to your vacancy (e.g. communication, decision-making, team work). One question/ situation is used to judge one competency.
This type of interviewing needs practice to perfect so please use our ‘Interview Guidance Pack’ for more information.
Questions take the form of: “Describe a situation where you were under pressure to hit an imperative deadline but had an unrealistic amount of work to do to achieve it”.
The competencies that you choose to test can be taken from the categories into which you placed your job duties when creating the job description.
If you decide to use this type of questioning, there should be no altering of the questions and every applicant should be asked the same questions in order to benchmark them against each other equally.
5. Applicant questions:
- Every applicant should have questions to ask you. If they don’t, question their preparation for the interview.
- This is an important part of the interview as applicants should want to check the company and job fit what it is they are looking for.
- When applicants ask you about specific parts of the job or company it is usually because they have a specific interest or concern. Use this as a chance to really get them interested and put your job at the top of their wish list.
- If the interview goes well and you feel strongly about the applicant, it is your decision whether you wish to feed this back to them there and then. Doing so is often a clever way of ensuring the applicant leaves the interview with positive thoughts in their mind about you, the company and the job.
- Outline the next steps of the recruitment process and the timescales involved.
- This is also a good time to ask about someone’s salary and benefits (if you wish).
- Ask the applicant if they have any final questions
- Show them out, thanking them for their time.