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Conducting a successful interview

At Greenaway we can advise businesses in the Kent area on many aspects of business life. Here are some tips on conducting recruitment interviews...

Hiring suitable staff is essential to the success of your business, so it is vital to get the interview process right.

Here are some of the factors to consider if you want to avoid losing a great candidate, or employing an unsuitable one.

Consider the post carefully

Draw up a job description detailing the responsibilities involved. This will help you to clarify the type of skills and experience that you're looking for in the employee. Make a list of these characteristics and compare it with your impressions of the candidate.

Set the right questions

Everybody knows the classic interview questions. But standard questions can elicit standard responses, so you need to focus on what it is you are really trying to discover about the candidate. The old favourite "Where do you see yourself in five years time?" won't necessarily tell you how the applicant will actually perform in the specified role.

Interviewers are increasingly using open-ended 'behavioural' questions which allow the candidate to demonstrate how he or she has acted in relevant situations in the past. For example, you could ask the applicant: "Can you describe a time when you were hard-pressed to meet a difficult project deadline with limited resources? How did you handle the situation?"

(See the box below for some great traditional and behavioural questions)

Prepare yourself

You want the candidate to be relaxed, not overly wary, so explain the form the interview will take beforehand. Be prepared to answer the candidate's questions about the company's size, mission, culture and future. The interview is a two-way process, and in a competitive job market you may want to create as good an impression for applicants as they do for you. Why not put together a one-page factsheet with details about the business?

Take notes and be consistent

Keep notes of your impressions as the interview progresses. These will act as a memory aid when interviewing a large number of candidates, and will also help you to be consistent and use the same criteria for each interviewee.

Check references

Be sure to follow up references from candidates' previous employers. Remember that what is not said can be as important as what is said

Avoid discrimination

It is essential to ensure that you do not discriminate against any candidates on the grounds of race, age, gender, religion or sexual orientation.

Ten great interview questions

'Traditional' questions

  1. Why are you here?
  2. What motivates you?
  3. How do you take advantage of your strengths and compensate for your weaknesses?
  4. What's the one accomplishment you're most proud of and why?
  5. What are the most important attributes of successful people, and how do you measure up?

'Behavioural' questions

  1. Give an example of a time when you needed to adjust quickly. What did you do and how successful were you?
  2. Describe an occasion when you had to deal with a difficult customer. What solutions did you come to?
  3. Tell me about a time when you had to make an important decision and a colleague strongly disagreed with you. How did you resolve the issue?
  4. Describe a time when you were asked to do something for which you had no training. How did you handle the task?
  5. Tell me about a period when your workload became very heavy. How did you cope with the pressure?

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