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Clients : The Do's & Don'ts of Interviewing

In the current climate the competition for vacancies can be fierce. The challenge for employers is to try to identify the best candidate for the job from the large number of prospective candidates. As the candidates are trying very hard to convince you that they are the best person for the job you need to take extra care to make sure that you can identify what a candidate can really bring to a role.

Use a job description and person specification to define what the job is about and the type of person you think you need to carry out that role. Make sure your advert is focused solely on the role and the skills. Avoid putting anything in the advert that indicates a preference for a candidate from a particular group such as age, gender or ethnicity. Make sure that you don’t indirectly discriminate in relation to your adverts by only placing them in media with a restricted distribution.

Interviews can be nerve-racking experiences irrespective of which side of the desk you are on, so try to make the interview as easy as possible as this will help you to get a fuller picture of the candidate. Be aware of body language in order to try and make the interview as open and friendly as possible. Consider placing a small clock on the table in front of you so that you can discretely monitor the time without risking the candidate thinking that you are bored. Make sure that your interview panel is of an appropriate size and constitution. Avoid putting someone on the panel who will be effectively recruiting their boss.

The purpose of the interview is to identify the best person for the job, so design questions in advance to test for the particular skills and experiences that you have set out in the job description and person specification. This means that the candidates can be compared on issues relevant to the position. Open questioning allows candidates flexibility to show how they meet the issue being tested. Be careful of unrelated discussion as it can be misinterpreted, so avoid issues like children and child care, retirement and health. Don’t set tasks, like presentations, if it’s not a relevant skill for the role under consideration.

Scoring records should record notes of the answers given and if the interviewer thinks that the candidate meets, partially meets or does not meet the criteria being tested. This helps interviewers to ensure that their selection process is fair.

It is reasonable to expect a candidate to have reviewed what the job is about as well as attempted to find out something about the company and you can ask candidates about what attracted them to the position or the company.

Look for clear, detailed answers to the questions showing that the candidate has listened to the question and understood how it relates to the role. Ideally, you want someone who can learn something useful from an experience, good or bad, and react positively in difficult situations. The length of the interview should take into account the number of questions being asked so that the process is not rushed and allow the candidate to ask any questions of their own.

  • Plan questions in advance to identify the skills you are looking for
  • Ask each candidate the same question
  • Keep a clear record of the scoring
  • Ask open questions
  • Read the application before the interview

  • Ask potentially discriminatory questions
  • Ask closed questions
  • Have an overly large interview panel
  • Go into the interview unprepared
  • Set unnecessary tasks

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