You can always find good advice online for candidates interviewing for a new job, but there is less advice for the people sitting across the table managing the interview process.
Interviews do not always follow the same process, no two are the same, but often the person conducting the interview may not be giving the interviewee the best chance to show what they have to offer.
Likewise, they may not be selling the role or the company in the best possible way.
The best managers are not always the best interviewers and may not have an HR person in the business to support them.
The hiring process for any organization should always start with a good job description, which should outline not only the role itself, but also the purpose or reason for the job.
Is it a new role or replacement, maternity cover or business growth? A good job description will also give insight into the company itself and its culture.
In my opinion, a job description should be similar in size to a CV, which should be between one and three pages.
If the candidate has read a clear job description before the interview, this will allow him to prepare appropriate questions during the meeting.
The interview itself should have some structure, but not too rigid and formal.
It’s quite normal for every meeting to start with an icebreaker before getting down to the nitty-gritty, then an introduction and more details about the role and the company.
One of the first questions I would ask during an interview would be, “What do you know about our company and the role you’ve applied for?”
This will be a quick way to find out what preparation the candidate has done.
A candidate who has done their homework will stand out more than someone who says, “I really haven’t heard of the company and/or haven’t had time to research.”
Another good question would be, “What tools/support/training do you think you will need to succeed in this role?”
It is quite rare that a person meets 100 percent of the requirements for a role, but most of what may need improvement should be teachable.
If the employer and employee are clear about what they need from each other before working together, it will make the onboarding process much smoother with no surprises later.
Non-teachable qualities such as being on time, putting in more effort, being positive and passionate will emerge (or not) quite quickly during probation.
Another question I often get asked is, “What is your preferred management style?”
Earlier in my career, when I was new to managing a team, I had a very one-dimensional approach that didn’t work then and wouldn’t work now.
Obviously, I will do my best to treat everyone fairly, but different personalities require a different approach.
Where you see yourself in three years is probably a cliché to avoid, but finding out what someone’s future goals are is very useful – if it’s important to them, then it’s good for you as an employer.
Are they looking for a promotion or training courses? How can the organization help them achieve their goals?
Overcoming adversity or tackling a difficult challenge is an asset to any business, so asking for examples of this in previous roles will offer a good indication of how a person approaches and manages a given task.
As mentioned, many of us are not trained in how to conduct interviews and many will simply default back to the way they have always done it.
There may be nothing wrong with that, but the best advice I can give to anyone who wants to bring the right people into their organization is to have as many people as possible involved in the process.
This is especially useful for smaller companies as it will give the candidate an open view of the team.
If it’s a four-person office and you’re looking to hire a fifth, this person will have an immediate and major impact on the team.
In this case, it is also important to get the participation of everyone in the rental. If everyone is committed to bringing the person on board, they are much more likely to try to help them settle in and support them when they join.
A good recruitment company should help write the job description and will be an important part of the interview process, managing the initial screening and meetings before presenting the hiring manager with a final shortlist.
John Armstrong is the founder and managing director of JCA Associates
Updated: August 11, 2023, 4:00 a.m