Interviewing - Successful Selection

by Jane Tredgett

Common questions

  1. Why can interviewing be such an unreliable method of recruiting?
  2. What should I look for in CVs or application forms?
  3. What qualities will I need to interview successfully?
  4. What is the best pathway to follow to make sure the interview is effective?
  5. What questions should I ask?
  6. What questions should I not ask?
  7. How do I know if the applicant is genuine?
  8. What are the main pitfalls of interviewing that I should try to avoid?

 

1. Why can interviewing be such an unreliable method of recruiting?

Most companies use interviewing as part of their selection process, but interviews have a poor success rate when assessed against whether the candidate selected is still in the position six months after the interview. There are many reasons why the interviewing process can go wrong. These include

  • Poor training
  • Too few guidelines from the organisation
  • No assessment of key candidate qualities required
  • Inaccurate advertising

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2. What should I look for in CVs or application forms?

  • A neat layout and well-written application
  • How closely each application matches the key qualities (including experience and qualifications) you are looking for
  • Experience of a similar job
  • Gaps in the job history or missing periods of time that are unaccounted for

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3. What qualities will I need to interview successfully?

Key qualities of a really good interviewer include being

  • Well prepared/well organised
  • Confident
  • Positive about the company and role
  • A ‘role model’ for the prospective candidate in terms of dress/approach and so on
  • Good at asking searching, relevant and non-discriminatory questions
  • Good at listening to what is being said and what is not being said
  • Observant
  • Polite
  • An accurate note taker
  • A good time keeper
  • Consistent

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4. What is the best pathway to follow to make sure the interview is effective?

An interview normally follows a pathway like the one below:

  • Preparation
  • Greeting candidates
  • Introduction
  • Asking effective questions/making observations/note taking
  • Asking the candidate for questions
  • Closing the interview
  • Reviewing
  • Advising candidates

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5. What questions should I ask?

  • Your core questions should be the same for all candidates (to help you avoid bias and discrimination and to ensure consistency).
  • Core questions should have been prepared. Good questions will explore the candidate’s ability to do the job, their motivation and how well they will fit in.
  • Some sample questions are provided. You can then use your core questions to drill down further.
  • Questions should be on specific areas critical to the role.
  • You should mainly use open questions and questions designed to identify the candidate’s match to the job profile.

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6. What questions should I not ask?

Some questions are best left unasked! These include

  • Leading questions
  • Hypothetical questions
  • Questions starting ‘why’
  • Discriminatory questions

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7. How do I know if the applicant is genuine?

Critical factors will vary, depending on the role for which the person is being interviewed. In general, a good candidate will show several common traits, including

  • Having done thorough preparation
  • Listening actively and patiently
  • Making good eye contact
  • Showing interest
  • Asking intelligent questions.

It is important to observe body language as well as listening closely to the answers given, as the body language may tell you what is not being said! It may also give you an indication as to whether the person is lying or uncomfortable.

Trust your instinct, but don’t rely on it as your only factor when making your decision. Following up on references may also provide vital clues to the candidate’s real abilities and how they are likely to perform well in the role.

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8. What are the main pitfalls of interviewing that I should try to avoid?

The most common pitfalls are

  • Lack of preparation
  • Lack of structure
  • Inappropriate environment
  • Missing visual (body language) clues
  • Not taking notes
  • Inappropriate questions – discriminatory or leading
  • Pressure to select the best from a poor bunch to fill the vacancy
  • The halo effect
  • Interviewers selecting people who are like themselves!

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