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Interviews 101


Hi, my name is Naomi Burgess and if you’re thinking of expanding your team, this post is for you. Hopefully, you’ll gather some useful information from it about being on the other end of a job interview.

I’ve already written about it in my other posts about interviews, but preparation is the key for both the interviewee and the interviewer. A badly prepared interviewer is a poor reflection of your organisation and chances are that a well-rounded candidate won’t be interested in coming back to work for you. Make sure that you’re familiar with the content of their CV and/or application form and if you don’t understand something, you should clarify it during the interview. When recruiting with the help of an agency, request that they provide you with full information about the candidate, including all their notes about the CV and their own interview.

Plan the process

No matter how prepared you are, however, it would mean little if you haven’t got a plan for how the interview would go. Write down an approximate list of questions you want to ask the candidate and leave some space to take notes of their answers. That’s not to say that you would know all the questions you’d want to ask prior to the interview – depending on the candidate’s answers, you would most likely have more that pertain to them directly. Don’t “wing it”, though – that would be clear to any well-rounded candidate and they wouldn’t appreciate that.

Make the environment helpful

It goes without saying that the room for the interview should be properly equipped for the interview format that you chose. A table and two chairs is the bare minimum – you should also have water and refreshments that you would offer to the candidate; interviews are stressful and it’s important to stay hydrated. If you’re recording the interview, make sure that you test your equipment beforehand. A pen and a piece of paper should also be present for you to take notes and for the candidate to take any tests you might need. It’s up to you, however, how you want to structure and position everything in the room – do you want to observe the candidate in the traditional across-the-desk format or does the role require some other kind of format?

Guides for the Interview process

Each good candidate knows that the interviewing process begins long before they’re sat across the table from you. They know they’re evaluated from the moment they walk through the door of your building. I’ve made a short list of what you should be taking note of before you begin to talk:

  • Whether they arrived on time or given you sufficient notice that they’d be late;
  • Eye contact;
  • Handshake;
  • Attire and neatness;
  • Demeanor – do they appear too nervous? Too arrogant? Are they fidgeting too much?
  • Anything else that could be significant for the industry and the role

Also, you should explain to the candidate the way the interview is going to be conducted so that both you and he or she have a clear picture of the process in your heads and are more relaxed.

Start the planned process

Once you’ve introduced yourself and explained everything about the interview process, you can proceed to questions that you’ve planned in advance. Make sure that those questions are a mix of open and closed ones – the “Yes” and “No” questions would help you get the most basic profile, but the answers to the open questions would be the ones pivotal to you making a decision about this candidate.

Those answers should contain details about the candidate’s experience and how it has shaped their knowledge and skills. Ask them the questions that are relevant to the role you’re interviewing them for and make sure that their answers are as specific as possible. You want to get a clear picture of how they would act in certain situations and the skills they demonstrate during those situations.

Remember – the candidate isn’t the only one being interviewed. They also have to make an important decision about where they want to work for an extended period of time and if they’re a great candidate, you want them to choose you. Be professional and try to build a good rapport with them, and make sure to give a comprehensive insight into the company.

Give the Interviewee time to ask and talk

In order for the both of you to make an informed decision, you should plan for some time at the end of the interview for the candidate to ask any questions he or she might have. This is very important – not only would it help them decide whether to come and work for you, but it would also serve as the final part of the assessment for you. Their questions would help you gauge their level of interest in the position and the company and their overall demeanor during this stage of the interview would help you gain a better understanding of their suitability for the role. Write down their questions to compare them against the answers they’ve given you to yours.

Give Feedbacks and Strengths

After they receive an answer to their last question from you, you should tell them the approximate timeframe of when you would have the answer for them and how you would communicate it to them. Be honest about how long it would take – if the candidate spends too long stressing out about whether they were good enough for your company, he or she might lose interest in the company altogether. When you inform the candidate about whether they’d been successful, I’d advise you to provide feedback on the interview – even if they haven’t been chosen they’d still want to know what went well and want didn’t.


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