Have you ever interviewed a potential candidate, finalised the job offer and induction process only to realise you’ve made a poor hiring decision? If so you are not alone and you’ll know how frustrating, time consuming and costly it can be.
Of course as hiring managers it’s easy to blame the candidate; perhaps there where a few little white lies on their CV, maybe they’re not the person they came across as in the interview, and sometimes there's just no chemistry, it happens. However consider this, was your interview process as effective as it could have been? There are a number of techniques you can use in order to minimise the risk when hiring new employees, here are some rudimentary interview tips that will help you avoid classic mistakes that most hiring managers make before, during and after interviews.
As recruiters we are constantly reminding applicants that they need to be prepared, but as the interviewer how prepared are we? I’m not just talking about the questions (which we’ll get to later), there is a lot to consider even before you pen your first question such as; is the interview room appropriate? Consider the set up; atmosphere, temperature, lighting, surroundings, possible distractions. Keep in mind that you are interviewing that person because you want them to demonstrate what they can do, making it a relaxing environment where they feel comfortable will allow them to do that properly. You should also make sure you do your research on the applicant. Many employers now look into the candidate’s online presence, does their LinkedIn profile match their CV? If not why not? You should identify specific areas you want to find out about them before you meet.
Interviews have been conducted in the same manner for so long that the majority of jobseekers now know what to expect, and even if they don’t there are many resources online that will help them to prepare answers to your questions. It doesn’t have to be the same monotonous back and forth that we are traditionally used to, make the questions engaging, interactive and interesting – this will make what can be a tedious exercise more enjoyable for both you and the interviewee.
Plan ahead and ask them to do the same. Dependent on the role; request a portfolio of their past work, set tasks such a preparing a presentation or completing a short exercise relevant to the role and ask them to bring it with them. Not only will this encourage them to engage with your company, it will show you who really wants to work for your business and the transferrable skills and knowledge they can bring.
Do something different at the interview
Include assessments within the process. These can be group or individual tasks and can provide interviewers with a good insight into a person’s character, skills, knowledge and attributes that may be difficult to assess verbally. This also provides the applicant with another opportunity to shine; the strongest candidate isn’t necessarily the best interviewee, by giving them a different platform to perform you may see a different side to the candidate that you may not have seen otherwise.
Know your questioning techniques
Use competency based interviews with open, probing and closed questions. Remember to always seek examples to back up any statements that the candidate makes. People will often say what they think we want to hear or they will recite standard answers they have seen online, which isn’t helpful. You need people who can answer your questions honestly and naturally, people who can provide concrete examples and apply these to your company or the role. Use questions focused on past experiences and scenarios such as;
“Describe how you dealt with ….”, “What would you do if….”, “Give me an example of when….”
Get a second opinion
Ask somebody to interview with you. This makes for a more transparent interview process, it also removes some of the burden of making the decision alone. Interviewing with a colleague or two will offer another perspective, and it is likely they will notice things about the candidate and their responses that you missed and vice versa. This approach will provide you with an opportunity for discussion and a more rounded opinion of the candidate. If you would rather conduct the interview alone, introduce them to the rest of the team as a minimum, perhaps as part of a second stage interview. It can even be a brief five minute introduction as part of a tour of the office, however will provide you with a good insight as to how they may integrate with the rest of the team and how they cope meeting new people. It also allows your team to form an opinion that you can then draw on, whilst demonstrating to the team that their input is valued.
Non Verbal Cues
We all know that it’s not just what a candidate says that counts it’s the way they act before, during and after. A person’s body language including posture, eye contact, presentation and attitude can all provide useful insights. There is no exact science to reading another person’s body language but being able to recognise positive and negative attributes can prove a useful tool. You also need to be aware of your own body language. It is often stated that when people are comfortable they will mirror one another’s body language. Be mindful of this, is the candidate slouching because you are?
Take as many notes as you can; what they are saying, what they are not saying, body language, tone of voice, anything to help jog your memory later. Having some pre-prepared questions with plenty of room for making notes can prove extremely useful when reviewing the interview later on. However take care not to be too obvious and lose eye contact while making notes, as this may unnerve the candidate.
You may also want to consider a second interview. Second round interviews can be used to find out any information you may have missed the first time round and provide an insight into a person on a different day or at a different time of day. You have to be sure about the decision you make and reaffirming initial perceptions will help with this. Dependent on the role, before making an offer it may be appropriate to invite the potential employee into the business for a trial day which will provide both parties with a better insight as to suitability.
Don’t make an offer for the sake of filling a role. If you haven’t found the right person start over, it can be time consuming and frustrating but hiring the wrong person will be much more infuriating.