When you run a business, conducting a job interview is one of the trickiest parts of employing a new member of staff. You need to establish whether the person on the other side of the table is right for the job. But you also need to impress them, and make sure you’re fair, honest and on the right side of employment law.
The best job interviews are conversations that both parties enjoy. And it’s not that tricky to put candidates at ease and create the right atmosphere. Here’s our key advice to help you conduct interviews.
Set the right tone
- Be friendly but professional. Kick things off with a friendly smile and a handshake. Some chat about a candidate’s hobbies, their journey to your office or even the weather can help break the ice and make them feel at ease.
- Tell the person you’re interviewing what’s going to happen. Another good way to make the candidate feel comfortable is to explain who’s in the room, how the interview is structured, how long it’ll take and what sort of notes you’re taking.
- Give them time for questions too. It’s obviously important the person you’re interviewing has a chance to ask you about the role, the work or anything else they want to know. And their questions can give you an insight into them too.
Ask the right questions
- Plan your questions ahead of time. Don’t go into an interview cold. Read the candidate’s CV, list the things you want to know and come up with some probing questions. If you previously interviewed them on the phone, is there anything you want to explore further?
- Ask open-ended questions. You want to give the candidate a chance to speak, to express their views and really demonstrate why they’re the right person for the role. So don’t restrict them to ‘yes’ and ‘no’ answers.
- Make sure you listen. If you’re doing more talking than the candidate then something isn’t right! Remember: you should be asking the questions, they should be answering them. If you’re tempted to express your opinions, hold back.
- Give them a hands-on test. This doesn’t mean you have to do a role-play or give the candidate a puzzle to solve, but it’s worth giving them a realistic scenario. Ask how they’d solve a problem or improve a process.
Sell the job to them
- Be positive and honest about your company. The very best people for the job could well be weighing up offers from other companies too. So you’ll need to convince them that your business is their best option.
- Run through the package. It’s always worth clarifying what salary and benefits package the successful applicant is likely to receive. Candidates often receive vague or conflicting information – particularly if they applied via a recruitment firm.
Be a little cautious
- Don’t make any promises you can’t keep. Be very wary about promising job security, salary increases, future prospects or anything else you’re not absolutely sure about. Making guarantees – even verbally – can cause legal problems for you later.
- Know what you can’t ask. Some areas are strictly off limits when you’re conducting a job interview. Don’t ask about plans to have children, marital status, sexual orientation, politics or age. The safest rule is: if you’re in any doubt, don’t ask it.
If you’re getting ready to conduct your first ever job interview, you might be nearly as nervous as the candidate. Just give yourself time to prepare properly, be friendly and do your very best to engage the candidate in interesting conversation. You’ll soon have a good idea if they’re right for your company.