How can you compare one candidate against another? How can you be sure an applicant is right for your company? Which questions should you ask to find out the most about each potential employee? Conducting a great job interview can be a tricky business, so here's C&M's guide to getting the very most from each meeting.
Research and prepare
You would expect all candidates to have done their research before attending an interview, so why should the interviewer go in unprepared? In advance of meeting the applicant, you should attempt to get an idea of who will be stepping into the room. So look at their social media profiles, re-read their CV and have a copy in front of you during the interview to refer back to.
If you're using a recruitment agency, then take on board everything that they've told you and have this information with you throughout the meeting.
Also, have an appropriate amount of time booked free in your diary and make sure you have secured an appropriate room in advance. Private interviews should never be conducted in public.
Explain the process
Most candidates will have taken time off work to see you, so at the start of the interview it's important to let them know the expected duration, process and format that the meeting will take.
Many companies also like to introduce potential recruits to some of their existing employees to see how they may fit into the team. If this is the case, then let the candidate know this before you begin asking questions. Don't wait until the end of a 90-minute interview to let the candidate know they're required to be here for another hour while they meet their potential colleagues.
Make them feel at ease
It's entirely normal for candidates to feel nervous and on edge in the run-up to an important job interview, so try to put them at ease. Ask them how their journey was and whether they would like a glass of water.
A lot of candidates have an 'interview persona', but you should aim to get past that and find the real person, so make them feel comfortable and try to get them to talk naturally to you.
There's also no point in asking questions that are designed to provoke candidates or make them feel uneasy – you want to get to know them rather than annoy them.
Keep it consistent
Some interviewers tailor their questions to each applicant, but it's a good idea to have a list of questions that will be asked to all contenders for a particular role. This creates a level playing field and will let you compare candidates against each other far more easily.
"What do you know about this company?" "Why do you want this role?" "Have you ever had to deal with performance management issues?" "Tell me about a problem you encountered in the workplace and how you dealt with it?"
Also, make sure to ask them about any gaps in their CV and, if it's a customer facing role, then you may want them to do a presentation.
Let them know the next steps
At the end of the interview, ask them how they thought it went – "do you think you would like to work here?" It's then important to let the candidate know where they stand or, at the very least, what the next part of the process is and when they can expect to hear from you.
If the meeting didn't go well and you have the confidence to tell them this, then let them know immediately because although it may be tough to hear, they will appreciate your honesty.
Equally, there's nothing wrong with taking your time to make a decision. But if you're convinced that this is the candidate for you, then you may want to offer them the position straight away to demonstrate how keen you are to have them as part of your team.