Interviews will always be a two-way street, at the same time an employer is interviewing a candidate, the candidate is also assessing whether they would like to work for the organisation in the first place. Therefore it’s important to get the balance right between putting interviewees at ease and still finding ways to challenge them.
Employers shouldn’t take an overly soft approach in order to avoid scaring off potential employees. In fact, good interviewers achieve a balance between helping candidates to overcome any nerves, and giving an honest impression of the company, whilst still really digging deep to ensure they hire the best person for the job.
Having supported employers through thousands of interviews, our consultants have seen first-hand that the more candidates sense they are being challenged, and feel they have to work to prove they have the skills for the job, the more they actually want the role!
Here are 5 top tips to hone your interview skills:
1. Don’t hold back
Make sure you respect all the essential niceties, such as a warm welcome and refreshments, and set aside appropriate time so the candidate doesn’t feel rushed. But don’t hold back on really trying to get under the skin of your next prospective employee.
2. Look for ways to dig deeper
The best questions are often the follow-up questions to those that you’ve already planned in advance. These take you past the prepared responses and into the finer details of a candidate’s experience. So if something sparks your interest, go ‘off list’ for a while and delve in with some more questions. For example when a candidate nominates an achievement, ask more about the results, what their position and role was, what key challenges they faced and what, if anything, they would differently now. This shouldn’t be seen as interrogation, it’s about creating an engaging, insightful, two-way conversation in which the candidate will really be able to demonstrate a clear response.
3. Look for warning signs
Interviews are intense for everyone, no matter how skilled or experienced the candidate is. But don’t overlook warning signs by putting it down to candidate nerves. There is no excuse for lacklustre research, or for someone failing to remember all parts of their CV. Support the candidate by asking additional questions, which will prompt them and bring them back on track if needed, but don’t ignore your gut instinct if you feel they are floundering due to a lack of preparation.
4. Set challenges
The second interview is when you can really see a different side to a candidate, and it’s the ideal time to set some relevant challenges in advance. Ask them to bring along some examples of their work, to prepare a short presentation on how they would approach the first 3 months in their new role, or give a practical example of a challenge that is facing your business right now and get the candidate to give you a practical step-by-step view on how they would overcome this. And don’t just look at the solutions they suggest, look at the way they prepare and approach these tasks as well.
5. Include additional assessments Consider additional ways to assess someone’s skills and suitability for the role, such as
Consider additional ways to assess someone’s skills and suitability for the role, such as competency-based, or behavioural, interviews and personality profiling. These aren’t additional hoops for a candidate to jump through, they are valuable ways for you to gain all the information you need to be confident in making a decision, and for potential employees to really feel they’ve had the chance to fully prove just why you should employ them.
If you would like some additional support in creating a more challenging interview process, or introducing competency-based interviews or personality profiling, then get in touch with our expert team. We’re here to help ensure you find the best possible talent for your business.
Gill is a founding Director of Pure and has worked in recruitment since 1988, including eight years of specialist recruitment experience within an international specialist recruitment company and five years working within financial services recruitment in Sydney, Australia. Gill’s approach is to provide clients and candidates with the highest quality of service. She has a consultative style which has led to her building long-term relationships with both clients and candidates.