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How to conduct a successful interview

Posted by
14 Apr 2014

A face to face interview is one of the most important steps when going through the hiring process. It's an opportunity for an employer to assess an applicant's abilities, skill set, personality and team fit.

When recruiting across finance, we commonly come across the formal, structured interview approach which, although effective in covering key competencies and qualifications, it can put applicants under a lot of pressure.

Remember, you can have fun with the process.

Interviews require active listening and understanding of what is being said; if you are seeing a number of candidates in one day, it is essential to take notes throughout the process rather than relying on memory. This also allows interviewers to come together at the end of the day to compare notes and reflect in open discussion about the applicants.

Developing rapport is essential and also a great way of putting applicants at ease. A great way to do this is finding common ground or a mutual interest; this works as an ice breaker and can help both parties to relax. These questions can be discussed briefly before starting the 'official' interview, for example:

1. What do you do in your spare time?

2. What is your favourite hobby?

Why not consider starting interviews with 'softer' questions to build a basis for conversation?

For example:

1. What part of your job do you most enjoy?

2. What work related achievements are you most proud of?

3. Why are you looking for a new role?

4. What do you think are your key strengths?

5. What do you think you can bring to this role?

6. How do you like to be managed/How do you like to manage?

Ensure to ask open questions; how, why, what, who and when? You want to get as much information as possible so don't just accept general answers - dig and ask further questions to get more clear answers.

Remember to let the interviewee talk! It's necessary to give them time to provide as much information as possible in order to make an informed decision; small pauses are to be expected, so don't rush them to answer immediately.

Furthermore, once you have moved on from 'softer' interview questions, you could go into asking some more creative ones - the market is becoming increasingly competitive, so it's important to know that your candidate will be both a hard worker and team player.

Why don't you ask a candidate to tell you an interesting story about their past experience but make it non-work related. This gets them to think on their feet and come up with an engaging story on the spot

Moreover, you could give the candidates a case assignment or real-world business problem to assess, resolve and arrive at a conclusion.

Or you could ask a basic math question to see how well an applicant can think under pressure...what's half of 99?

As always, Sellick Partnership is on hand to support organisations through this process. It can prove highly effective utilising an agency through the recruitment process as it makes it more streamlined and allows more time for the interviewer to evaluate the key personal traits of the applicants.

We advertise permanent, interim, temporary and contract roles for any organisation. We shortlist CVs, conduct testing and preliminary interviews. A full audit history is gathered for all applicants taken to interview including full reference checks. From these we will then present a shortlist of applicants to progress to face to face interview with the client. At this stage we can provide a non-involved member of staff to sit on the interview panel and provide a fresh perspective.

If your organisation is currently hiring and you would like to discuss your needs with Sellick Partnership, contact me on 0161 8341642 or e-mail

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