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Here are some steps you can take, from the start of the interview process to the end, that can help you make the right hire.

In today’s hiring market, it might not seem like interviews are front of mind for most. But for businesses looking to bring in new talent, conducting an efficient interview process can bring you one step closer to the right person. Having said that, I know that it’s not always about looking for the best hire.

The interview process is there to help you learn about the candidate and showcase the value of the company you work for; it’s not a one-way street. Though this may seem simple enough, it is often difficult to strike the right balance. 

Skills and strategies for successful interviews 

There are many variables to think about when you’re joining an interview. First, you must identify what sort of interview is being conducted. You may be leading the search for someone to fill a role more junior than yours, or on your level of seniority. Contrastingly, you could be called in as additional support while a candidate is being interviewed for a position more senior than your own. 

Either of the above frameworks might require different involvement from you, but there are some general things you have to keep in mind: 

  • Active listening
  • Communication skills
  • Problem-solving any tasks presented at the interview
  • Researching the company a candidate is interviewing for  
  • Punctuality

Each company will have its own specific requirements for the interviewing process, so make sure you seek out the right training materials or support before you dive in. 

The interview process broken down into steps

The interview process

The “before” stage

If you have received a huge number of applications, do not feel pressured to interview everyone. CV sifting should be a process before you even start planning an interview, whereby you collect all the CVs put forward and skim them to see which candidate(s) could be invited for the interview process. This is particularly useful if you have hundreds of CVs to get through. 

Planning and preparation 

Once you’ve cleared what your company’s usual processes are and what the organization expects of you as an interviewer, work with a co-interviewer (if you have one) to iron out the finer details. Make sure you are both confident about the approach. Confirm what specific questions you will be asking and any exercises or tasks you may want to run the applicant through.     

Building the right rapport and showcasing the company's values

As much as it's important to hire a good candidate with the right core skills, it's vital to represent the company correctly as well. Build a rapport with the candidate so they can learn if this is the right place for them too. Include core values of the company in the questions you ask or the way you deliver the interview

Remember, the prospective hire is more than likely nervous. From the start, try and make them as comfortable as possible by asking them about their day, or simply if they would like some tea or coffee. Making sure the candidate is at ease puts everyone in good stead to perform well. Something that also really adds value here is expressing gratitude, the more you do this the more comfortable a nervous environment can become. The candidate will also appreciate this.

Collecting the right information from the interview 

Interviews rely very heavily on verbal communication. If you’re making notes throughout the process, try not to transcribe things word-for-word. It diverts your concentration from the conversation at hand and may impact the interview quality. Instead, jot down standout words and phrases that can jog your memory when reviewing the document later. 

If you asked your candidate to complete a written task before or during an interview, try and gather as much data on their method of working; this will help to inform their analytical skills and problem-solving abilities. In these cases, don’t feel the need to document their performance in these assignments until after the interview is over.  

Art of listening

It is important for candidates to respond and engage with your questions, but it is just as important for you, as the interviewer, to actively listen as well. Without attentive listening, you won’t be able to formulate an accurate opinion of the candidate. 

Decision-making time

Once the interview has been conducted, you will need to start thinking about whether the candidate is the right match for the role or not. 

Discuss the applicant’s performance with a co-interviewer and upper management, if necessary. Stay fair at all times and if confusion arises, feel free to call the candidate once again to clear some doubts – it may feel like an extra stage in the interview process, but it’s worth it!

Finally, use all the information at your fingertips to decide if it’s a yes or a no. This may feel overwhelming to you, as you may not want to upset an applicant if you end up needing to write a rejection email.

Don't be biased

If someone has applied to a job that you are interviewing for, and this person is an acquaintance/friend/family member, you shouldn’t interview them. If you do end up sitting in that chair across from them, make sure your feedback isn’t biased and is as honest as possible. 

Post-interview tips 

  • Provide feedback – The candidates always prefer feedback whether positive or negative. It's their right to ask for it as well. Therefore make sure you took good notes to lean on when sharing these. Feel free to provide them with tips for their next interview, if it’s relevant. This will be very much appreciated. 
  • Be honest – If you know the candidate isn’t right for the role, don’t spend unnecessary time elongating the process. Get to the point and save yourself extra work and time.  
  • Ask for their feedback on the entire interview process – send a form and learn from what candidates actually feel. 

Final thoughts 

Interviews are a core part of every firm. Therefore it's vital to have a good process in place to make sure you’re hiring someone who’s a right fit for the company.  

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