New to conducting interviews? Read this

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In today’s competitive climate, making sure your company lands the best talent for a role is more important than ever. 

If you’re new to interviewing, knowing how much is at stake may make you as nervous as the candidate you’re meeting.

But just as the advice given to candidates is to prepare, prepare and prepare - so it is if you’re on the other side of the desk.

This pre-interview prep work won’t just help you run a more effective interview and improve the experience the candidate has on the day, it’ll also help you feel more confident and in control. Read on for tips on what to do before, during and after an interview.

BEFORE THE INTERVIEW

Know who your ideal candidate is

Before meeting a candidate face-to-face, it’s vital to be clear on exactly the type of employee you’re looking for.

If you have a crystal-clear picture of the skills, experience and personal qualities that are important, it’ll be easier for you to prepare decent questions at interview stage.

Plan the structure, and stick to it

Taking time to plan beforehand how you want the interview to go will help you feel more in control of your conversation. As a guide, you could:

  • Start by explaining how the interview will work.
  • Spend most of the remaining time asking them questions, before giving them the chance to ask their own questions.
  • Finally explain the next steps, and when they can expect to hear from you. 

Know which questions to ask

Make most of your pre-interview prep about deciding which questions to ask the candidate you’re meeting. Studying the job description and their CV, what jumps out at you that you’d like to know more about?

As well as covering their experience and skills in your particular sector, it’s also a good idea to ask more general questions to find out how they’ll fit with your existing team.

...and which ones to avoid 

It’s against the law to discriminate against anyone because of age; gender reassignment; being married or in a civil partnership; being pregnant or on maternity leave; disability, race; religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation.

That makes questions like, for example, ‘Are you from the UK?’ or ‘Do you have children?’ strictly off-limits. In a nutshell, you should stick to questions about an individual’s ability to do the job, and nothing else (find out more ones to avoid, here.) 

Learn how to sell the company 

An interview is about the candidate finding out if your business is right for them, as well as the other way round. Focus on painting a positive picture of your company, and the position you’re recruiting for.

For example, make sure you know how to talk confidently about topics including:

  • The company’s mission, and how that translates day to day.
  • How the company supports staff through training or mentoring.
  • Practical ways the company keeps employees engaged and motivated. 

Go big on briefing 

Interviews can be stressful enough for candidates, without the many unknowns that can crop up around the day. For example, where exactly is your office? Who will be interviewing them? What’s the dress code? What sort of topics might you be talking about? 

Make it a priority to brief candidates on the logistics well ahead of time. If they arrive more relaxed, you’re more likely to get an accurate picture of them at their best. 

AT THE INTERVIEW 

Win at candidate experience

You can never eliminate candidate nerves, but you can work to create a warm and welcoming environment for an interview that helps them feel comfortable and confident.

As well as briefing them on practical logistics, one thing to do is see them as close in time as possible to their interview slot.

Unless you’re genuinely dealing with a urgent work situation, making a candidate wait in reception increases their nerves and doesn’t create a good first impression of you or their potential workplace. 

Let the candidate do the talking

If you’re new to conducting interviews, it’s easy to start rambling and going off-topic. Try to make sure that at the end of your meeting, the candidate is the person who’s spoken the most.

Of course, this is where it pays off to have planned the format and talking points beforehand. 

Remember your body language

Body language is crucial for a candidate. But as the interviewer, how you carry yourself is important, too.

Make an effort to maintain eye contact, smile, and nod your head to reflect back what your potential employee is talking about. 

AFTER THE INTERVIEW 

Always follow up

Of course, giving feedback to a successful candidate after an interview is vital if you plan to offer them the job. But for those who haven’t made the grade it’s also crucial. If nothing else it’s just common courtesy. 

Even if they were unsuccessful, at least you’ve left them feeling positively about your business. 

Finally: keep practicing 

As a manager, interviews are bound to be a key part of your role. And the more you do, the easier they will become.

Doing the right preparation will play a huge role in getting rid of your interviewing jitters - and free you up to woo a star candidate onto the team.

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