Tips for conducting an effective interview
Conducting a job interview may seem easy but making it an effective one involves careful planning and extensive preparation. To make the interview productive and effective, it is important for you to be equipped with the skills to build rapport with the job candidate. You also have to possess the right questioning and listening techniques to extract relevant information from the candidate to help you make the right hiring decisions.
Yes, you heard right. It’s not just the candidate who has to prepare for the interview. You too, have homework to do beforehand, particularly if the interview is for a technical position.
Here are four steps to help you prepare for the job interview:
1. Understand the job description thoroughly
The job description or JD details the duties and responsibilities for a position. It may also specify who the hire will be reporting to and the skills required for a person to do the job.
Understanding the job description and having some of the information at the back of your mind helps you put what the candidate shared in context and also allows you to provide better answers to the candidate’s questions. Knowing the job description well lets you know what you should be looking out for in the candidate. Even if you were the one who wrote the job description, going through it before the interview ensures that you and the candidate are on the same page, this is specially so when you have been interviewing for multiple different roles.
2. Review the candidate’s resume well in advance
If the candidate managed to come through your doors for the interview, chances are he or she already ticks off many items on your checklist and has at least the minimum requirements specified on the job description.
The interview is a chance for you to find out more about the candidate’s background beyond what’s written on the resume. Ideally, you want to find out about the candidate’s personality, attitudes, motivations and career aspirations, which are as important as or, in some cases, even more important than whether the candidate has the hard skills for the job. It’s possible to get that information with a well-conducted job interview but you have to know the candidate’s background first before you can ask good, insightful questions.
3. Prepare questions to ask the candidate
As you review the candidate’s resume, you would have formed some questions in your head. Write these down.
Besides the questions you’ve written, you’ll want to have a good variety of questions to understand the candidate from various aspects. A good way is to vary the types of interview questions.
1. Credential verification questions
2. Experience verification questions
Such questions aim to find out more about the candidate’s experience. Examples of such questions are “What did you learn from working as a data scientist managing Project XYZ?” and “Can you tell me more about your responsibilities as a Cyber Security Engineer at Company ABC?”
3. Opinion questions
Such questions allow you to find out the candidate’s thought process and how they would respond in a specific situation. Examples of such questions are “What would you do if the web development project you’re managing encounters problem XX?” and “How would you explain the results of your project in laymen terms to investors?”
4. Behavioural questions
Such questions provide you a glimpse at how the candidate had approached a work issue in the past. The purpose of such questions is to use past behaviours to predict future results.
5. Competency questions
Competency questions helps you understand if the candidate’s past behaviours are aligned with specific requirements for the position. Examples of such questions are “Can you give me a specific example of how you led the IT team to complete the digital transformation project?” and “Can you explain how you used an innovative solution to resolve a recent problem?”
6. Brainteaser questions
Such questions were made popular at one point by large technology and consulting companies. Google famously asked its candidates questions such as “How many golf balls would fit inside a 747?”, “Estimate the number of gas stations in Manhattan” and “If I shrank you to the size of a nickel and put you in a blender, how would you escape?”. Sounds pretty daunting right? Google have since banned these questions at its job interviews. Nevertheless, such head-scratching questions are still being asked at some job interviews.
Our take? Ask brainteaser questions only if you think that they are really relevant for the interview.
4. Arrange for the interview to be in a comfortable venue
When the candidate is not in a stressful situation, he can be his true self. And only when the candidate is acting like himself can you most accurately determine if he’s a good match for the position and company.
Make the candidate feel as comfortable as possible by choosing an appropriate location. Most first interviews take place in a meeting room at the company’s office. For subsequent interviews, you may arrange for it to be in another location such as the company’s break out area – just make sure it’s quiet and that no one will be disturbing the interview. Some managers also arrange final interviews at cafes, to make the setting and conversation more casual.
Other important things to note
1) Treat every candidate like a potential hire
Try to have every candidate leave the interview feeling he wants to work at the company. Even if the candidate is not suitable for the position he was interviewing for, he might be suitable for upcoming positions or he might become a client of the company in the future.
2) Be honest
The way to make sure you’re hiring the right person for the role is to present accurate information about the role, team, managers and the company. It is counter-productive to sell a position to a candidate, only to have him or her leave the company shortly after joining.
3) Attitude over skillsets
It’s better to hire someone with good attitude who fulfills most of your requirements, than another candidate with a bad attitude but meets 100% of your requirements. With the right attitude, there’s nothing that can’t be learnt.
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