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Top Tips: How to Be a Great Interviewer

Interviewing candidates is perhaps the most important part of the recruitment process. You want to get the best out of each person you interview, but also get a good, honest assessment of their suitability for the role and fit for the company. We sat down with talent acquisition expert and Stroud Resourcing managing director Joanna Stroud to get a few of her top tips for making sure you get the most out of every candidate interview.

Set the scene

Before the interview, make sure you give the candidate everything they need to prepare. Contact them in writing, explaining the structure you are adopting so you can alleviative nerves and get the best from them. Remember to include any company brochures and links to your website and social media so they can easily research your company.

Be prepared

This is advice we always give candidates, but how many of us follow it ourselves? Make sure you fully read the resume prior to the interview, making notes on any areas you want to ask specific questions about.

Prepare competency-based interview questions that relate to more than just the job description. For example, imagine you rolled the clock forward 12 months, reflect on what outcomes you would like them to achieve and ask questions that relate to these outcomes.

Think about the interview environment

Make sure the interview environment reflects how you want to come across as a company. Use it as an opportunity to showcase the workplace culture, and remember you are selling yourself to the candidate as much as they are selling themselves to you.

Interviewing in a café might depict you as laid back, but it’s not really appropriate to have confidential conversations in these environments. However, I do feel it’s appropriate to hold an informal, final stage interview over dinner with prospective applicants for managerial roles, because you want to ensure that you have a strong connection with anyone entering a leadership position.  

Put the candidate at ease

On arrival, ensure your interviewee feels comfortable. Explain where the facilities are, make sure there is water on the table, offer them a hot drink, let them know you are a caring, considerate employer, and make them feel at ease. A tense or distracted candidate isn’t going to be their best, and you might miss out on the perfect applicant because of interview nerves.

You want to get to know the individual and build rapport, but you must be mindful about not asking questions that undermine equal employment opportunities. Instead focus on things they enjoy outside of work, plans and ambitions for the future, or any hobbies they have.

In an assessment scenario with multiple applicants, I’m a fan of providing lunch. It gives me the opportunity to see how candidates might act in a casual setting and it’s a chance to get know them personally.

Get the candidate talking by asking open questions!

Try to avoid things that can be answered with yes or no. This way you can assess the candidate’s commitment and fit and give them an opportunity to properly express themselves. Open-ended questions you could use include:

Then tell them about the job: the good, the bad, and the ugly - and pay attention to the ugly. You need to be transparent about what challenges they may face.  Give them a Q&A opportunity, listen very carefully to the questions they ask, it’s a brilliant way to assess whether they have researched the role and are enthusiastic about the opportunity.

Close with some commitment questions

Once you have a good picture of the candidate in front of you, close off with the more practical questions around commitment, and their likelihood to accept any offer. Final questions might include:

Finally, give the candidate a reasonable timeframe in which they’re likely to hear from you – and make sure you stick to it. Now, more than ever, good candidates are likely to receive multiple job offers – they won’t wait around forever!

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