Making your interview process as detailed as possible

6 mins
Sellick  Partnership

By Sellick Partnership

At first glance conducting an interview can seem like a simple process: introduce yourself and the company, make small talk, ask questions, and compare the candidates. But how do you make sure your hiring process is as detailed as possible to ensure you always hire the perfect candidate?

The cost of a bad candidate can be huge, and it is not just the wasted salary that can be expensive. Training time, potential customer problems, and recruiting a replacement are all things that organisations strive to avoid. To prevent your company from making an expensive hiring mistake, it is important to have a detailed strategy.

Here are our top tips on how to formulate questions and develop a robust interview process for your business.

Research what sort of candidate you are looking for

Before you start searching for the perfect candidate, you need to spend some time thinking about the role you are recruiting for. Think about previous employees who have held the position and what skills, knowledge, and qualities made them successful or unsuccessful.

Make a list of these and make sure that everyone involved with the selection process agrees that this is the criteria interviews are looking for each candidate. Make sure you are looking at professional qualities and try to avoid seeking a candidate that will 'fit in' with the rest of the team on a personal level, this will broaden your candidate pool. Find out more about inclusive hiring here

Ask the right questions

When you have selected candidates CVs from the criteria, you need to create a robust set of questions that will allow the candidates to showcase their skills in your relevant sector/area. There are many different approaches to creating job interview questions:

  • Fact-based or general questions: most interviews will include some questions that clarify information listed on the candidate's CV. Questions that ask the candidate why they want to pursue a job in a specific field or with your company also fall into this category.

  • Situational or hypothetical questions: asking the candidate what they would do if placed in a certain situation is a situational question. These will allow the candidate to relate experiences they have had with your business, identifying their key skills and traits to do the job. 

  • Stress questions: stress questions intentionally put the candidate in a stressful situation and are not always required in an interview. The objective of these questions is to learn how the candidate reacts in stressful situations.

  • Competency based questions: competency based questions are interview questions that require candidates to provide real-life examples as the basis of their answers. Candidates should explain why they made certain decisions, how they implemented these decisions and why certain outcomes took place.

  • Behavioural questions: the theory behind behavioural interviewing is that past performance is an excellent predictor of future performance. Instead of asking general questions, the interviewer asks for specific examples that demonstrate skills. For instance, instead of asking, 'Do you have initiative?' the interviewer would ask for an example of a time when the candidate demonstrated initiative.

It is worth noting here that you must take care when asking some questions. These include asking about race, religion, marital status, children, gender, and disabilities. The general rule is if you are going to ask about any of these topics, you must ask every candidate you interview, and ensure your question will not be perceived negatively.

Be aware that sometimes some of these questions aren't appropriate for neurodivergent candidates, or can be tweaked in some way. Contact our Diversity Champions for more assistance and advice with inclusive recruitment here

Example questions to ask during an interview 

Here are some common interview questions you can consider asking candidates: 

  • Tell me about yourself... 
  • What are your key strengths and weaknesses? 
  • Why do you want to leave your current job? 
  • Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years? 
  • What have been the most significant achievements in your career so far?
  • How do you handle conflict? 
  • How do you perform under pressure? 
  • How do you define success? 
  • Why do you want to work here?
Structure the interview beforehand

The interview structure is also crucial, and should flow just as a regular meeting would. We would advise that you set out the basic structure of how each interview should take place in advance, and stick to the format with each candidate. Generally, we would advise first stage interviews to follow a similar format to the below:

Part one: introduction – set the candidate at ease with a few minutes of small talk. Ask some general or factual questions, and explain how the interview process is going to work.

Part two: fact based questions – use this time to go through the candidate's CV, gaining a greater insight of their skills and experience to date.

Part three: behavioural/competency based questions – this is where you analyse the candidates' ability to do the role at hand. Ask them to explain situations where they have used similar skills, and where they have used their skills to succeed in the past.

Part four: wrap-up – This is the time to let your candidate ask any questions they may have. After this interviewers should inform each candidate on the next stages, and when a selection will be made! Formal goodbyes should follow and then have the candidate escorted to the exit.

Create a robust rating system

Inexperienced interviewers might be tempted to use the initial impressions that each interviewee gave them in order to compare candidates against each other. This is dangerous for several reasons. When interviewing you must remember that you are looking for someone who can do the job the best, not your next best friend, so all conversations should be around skills and ability.

A robust rating system should therefore be implemented to ensure all candidates are reviewed equally and in the same way. Failing to rate each candidate individually can often lead to selecting the wrong candidate.

An effective evaluation will allow you to rate each candidate and compare them against a set criteria. This can be done on a simple scoring system or a checklist of key skills, just make sure you use the same system for every candidate you interview.

Our final top tips for success

Do your homework: carefully read each candidate's CV in detail to ensure you have a good pre knowledge of their skills and experience. It might also be worth searching their social media platforms, this will give you a greater insight of who they are as a person.

Be nice: ensure you make your candidate feel at ease by smiling, leaning forward, and nodding your head. This will not only make them feel more comfortable, but will allow them to open up more.

Take notes: after several interviews, it is easy to get candidates' experiences mixed up. Make sure you write them down. If you think you might forget, it might also be worth writing a brief description of what the candidate looks like on the CV.

Do not talk too much: give your candidate the time to sell their skills and ability to do the role.

For more help on ensuring your interview process is as robust as possible you can visit our contact page. Alternatively you can view the rest of our Employer resources here.