During a recent discussion with a client regarding Interview Skills for those going for interviews there was a plaintive wail and the question: “What about the Interviewer… I have to start interviews for some new positions soon and I haven’t conducted interviews before – what tips do you have for me?

So for those who have never conducted interviews before or those who would like to brush up on their skills here are few tips.

Firstly, as for the interviewees, prepare for the interview. This means knowing what you are looking for – what skills set do you need, what personality traits would best suit the position. In other words make sure you have done a job analysis which will give you a job description and a person specification.

Secondly, if you are part of an interview team or panel make sure that you are all on the same level playing field. Have a check list to assess the candidates against. Discuss with each other what you are looking for and discuss the types of questions to be asked. Questions can be communication type, leadership type, behavioural, motivational, educational and skills. Avoid illegal questions and interview practices that may get you in trouble with the Anti Discrimination Board. Be aware of the sort of questions, like age, sex or race that can not be asked.

Thirdly, as part of your preparation make sure you have read the candidates’ resumes and familiarise yourself with their information. You can use this information to form questions for the interview.

Fourthly, make sure you set aside enough time for each interview and that you have the interview room set up appropriately. Allow time for the actual interview and time for the interview panel to absorb discuss and make notes after each interview. The actual interview may take 15 to 60 mins depending on the position level and job. Ensure that there are no interruptions during the interview. Seating arrangements should ensure that the candidate is comfortable and relaxed to facilitate conversation rather than interrogation.

During the interview ensure your questions are open questions that encourage the candidate to provide enough information for you to assess them. Avoid yes or no and leading questions such as “You didn’t have any problems in your last job, did you?” Have some follow up questions ready, such as “What did you do then? Would you give an example of that?”

Most importantly practice good listening skills. Listen to what the candidate is saying, what is not being said and for any recurrent themes or answers, inconsistencies or gaps. Wait after asking a question to allow the candidate to formulate their reply. Don’t be afraid of silence.

Avoid bias. Be aware of any prejudices you might have or of prejudging a candidate based on the resume information. Watch out for judging a person solely based on the appearance or ability to speak. Make sure you take all aspects of the candidate into consideration when making a decision. Don’t let the halo affect i.e. one good point cloud all the other points about the candidate.

When closing the interview, ask the candidate if they have any further questions, make sure you have all the information you want, thank the candidate and walk them to the door.

After all the interviews are done, make your selection based on the information received at the interview, the candidates’ resumes, the check lists, discussions with your fellow panel members and reference checks.

Be aware that during an interview not only are you assessing the candidate but the candidate is also assessing you. You are representing your company and the candidate is making some decisions about the company based on how you present yourself when conducting the interview.

So ensure you shine and use some of these tips to assist in polishing your skills as an interviewer.


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