Selecting the right candidate for each job takes a mix of thorough preparation and skill on the day. A hiring mistake is a very costly one for your business or your organisation – it can set the plan back months and double trouble, you will have to do it all over again. 

Even worse though can be the consequences of a poor interview process and a disgruntled candidate with a discrimination case. That could see you in court with a whopping great legal and compensation bill.

So there are two rules – do it right and do it fair!

Preparation is critical. Use your job description to compile an interview plan and list pertinent questions to focus on the key skills, experience and attributes the role requires. Refer to the plan before each candidate interview and during the interview so that you follow the same structure, ask the same key questions and can compare and benchmark the responses. Once you have done your preparation try the following tips to get the best out of your interviews.

  1. Welcome the candidate - try to put them at ease. Introduce yourself and others present. They are more likely to drop their guard when at ease than when under pressure. 

  2. Set the scene and explain the structure of the meeting – interview, assessments, pschyometrics etc. 

  3. Outline briefly the company background and role, and where the job fits. 

  4. Ask open questions - ones that cannot be answered with a yes or no. Encourage the candidate to talk about how they gained their skills and experience and wait for the answers.

  5. Ask probing questions where you want more depth, sense a fudge or just want to focus on a key issue.

  6. Prompt for factual information that demonstrates competencies – How did you do that? What was your part in the project? What did you specifically contribute? What did you learn from that? 

  7. Keep control of the interview. If you feel the candidate is going off-track turn the conversation back to the information you need. If they didn’t answer the question, rephrase and ask it again until you are satisfied.

  8. At the end of the interview, ask the candidate if they have any questions. As well as answering their questions, note what they have asked you. The quality of the questions they ask at interview will indicate the quality of the questions they will ask on the job – are they fact seeking, curious, interested, astute or superficial.

  9. If you are asked a question you don’t know the answer to – ‘’park it’’ and say you will find out and let the candidate know.

  10. Bring the interview to a close and inform them of the next stage in the recruitment process, eg appointment, second interviews, evaluations, assessment centres and the estimated timescales. Thank the candidate for their time.

Be aware that the candidate has a legal right to a fair hearing and that there are a host of laws that make discrimination a very expensive business. The candidate also has the right to ask for a copy of any notes made during the interview. You may think this is a good reason not to make any, but the reverse is true. If the candidate has a gripe, the better your notes the more secure your position.

  • Back up interviews with a detailed record of the procedure, written as soon as possible after the interview.

  • Only record what has been said in the interview and how the selection decision was made, NOT your beliefs or thoughts about the candidate. 
    Always compare their competencies, responses and experience against your job description.

  • Asking the same pertinent questions of all candidates and comparing the responses against each other and against your job specification provides a platform for fair benchmarking.



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