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An employer’s guide to the interview process

The success of a business is dependent on a number of factors, but the quality of the people working for the company is arguably one of the most important. A strong workforce of happy, dedicated and motivated staff can have a significant impact on the organisation’s reputation and overall performance, so ensuring the right candidates are selected in the interview process is essential for complementing a growing team. 

The interview process is one of the most important aspects of recruitment, giving employers the chance to assess whether an individual has the skills and experience necessary, and whether they will fit in with the wider culture and values of the organisation. However, gathering so much information on a potential employee in such a short space of time can be incredibly difficult, so employers need to ensure their interview process is as streamlined and effective as possible. 

Below is some guidance on how to make the most of the interview process and assess if a candidate is suitable for the role and also a good fit for the company.

Preparation for the interview process

Businesses must take steps to attract candidates to the role, and this can be difficult to achieve without planning. You may want to do this yourself by advertising the position. However, you may wish to consider enlisting the help of a recruitment specialist who can give your business access to a stronger pool of candidates who are already looking for a new role. 

In order to optimise the interview process, steps should be taken to standardise your methods. This can be achieved through establishing a precise procedure that will be followed when candidates reach the interview stage. The process should be the same for each individual, where possible, from beginning to end. This will make a realistic comparison between candidates much easier. However, the type of interview process you create depends on the role itself and the team involved.

When standardising the process for a particular role, you should discuss the matter with your relevant colleagues. Talk about the type of person you wish to hire by collectively designing the job role and creating a detailed job description. Furthermore, put together a candidate profile that includes both essential features and those that are desirable. 

It can be useful to create an ideal time scale for carrying out the recruitment process, and to ensure all applicants will be available when they are needed. 

Pre-screening candidates

Ahead of the face-to-face interview, it is important to consider the type of recruitment process that is best for your business. Staged interviews are extremely popular, and give employers the chance to get to know their candidates well before making a decision. 

Many organisations begin this process with a thorough pre-screening telephone interview, which assesses their education history and career to date. Here, you can find out about the individual's current responsibilities, where they fit into their current business, along with information regarding their key aims and objectives. This process provides an understanding of the candidate's personal qualities and experiences before meeting them face to face and has proved an effective way of filtering through candidates ahead of the next stage. 

Planning face-to-face interviews

Following the pre-screening process, a face-to-face or video interview could take place. During this stage, a full technical and competency-based interview will be taken.  

Before the interview takes place, you should give the same information to all candidates. This will include company information, a job description, an application form (where necessary) and an agenda to be followed on the day of the interview. The more information you provide ahead of the interview, the more time you will be able to spend getting to know the applicant, rather than focusing on other less important tasks. 

You may wish to look at including tests into your interview process. For example psychometric tests have emerged as an incredibly popular tool among employers. Using this tool, employers can successfully identify a candidate's skills, knowledge and personality. Here, candidates are usually asked to undergo a number of verbal, numerical or diagrammatical tests, while personality questionnaires help the employer to get to know them further. 

Be sure to have with you all of the information you require for the interview. Usually, this will include a copy of the candidate’s CV, as well as the job description, a list of the questions you are going to ask and any other information. It is essential that those conducting the interview come across as organised, and that they are not interrupted once the interview starts. 

Face-to-face interviews

The nature of the questions you ask will shape the interview, and it is vital for employers to put some thought into this aspect. Be sure to ask your questions first, as this will give you time to decide whether the applicants are suitable for the job before inviting them to ask you questions. The questions you ask should always be open, inviting a longer answer than closed questions that can be answered with a simple “yes” or “no”. In order to get the most informative answers, make the questions start with “why”, “when”, “where”, etc. 
Those carrying out the interview should demonstrate the values of the business through their actions and demeanour. It is highly likely that the candidate will be looking for the same personal qualities in you that you are looking for in them. 

To start with, it can be effective to ask a number of biographical questions, which validate the candidate's CV. It can help to make the candidate feel at ease to ask them to review their education and work experience, as well as confirm their dates of employment. In addition, use this opportunity to explore any gaps in employment, and their reasons for leaving previous jobs. 

Follow this with a series of competency-based questions, which will demonstrate the candidate's skills. This is also a good opportunity to assess the individual's attitude, personality, soft skills and general demeanour. These types of questions are also effective in demonstrating evidence of the behaviours required to be successful in any new role. 

Candidates should respond honestly when asked their reasons for leaving their current employer, as well as the likelihood of counter-offers, and employers should not shy away from asking questions surrounding these issues. By ascertaining the motivation for leaving, and working through scenarios regarding their likely response if they were offered more money or another incentive, potential employers can mitigate the risk of withdrawal later in the process. 

The end of the interviews

Use the end of the interview as an opportunity to let the candidate know when they will hear from you, and provide information on what the next step will be. Then, make notes on an assessment form including any observations you made during the interview, such as your first impression of them and their communication ability and salary expectations. 

If the candidate was referred through a recruitment company, speak to the consultant about what you thought of them. 

In some instances, candidates may be required to attend a second face-to-face interview, where they could be introduced to a more senior member of the management team. This will give the candidate and employer a final opportunity to decide whether the opportunity is the best way forward. 
For further information or advice on the interview process contact our specialist consultants by calling our head office on 0161 834 1642 or visit our contact us page. Contact us
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