Searching for ways to up your interview game?
It’s not only candidates who feel the heat during an interview. If you’re new to the process or you’re not the most confident person, don’t worry, as you’re not alone.
The reality is, top professionals are judging you and your business too. So there’s just as much riding on the interview for the employer than there is for the potential new employee.
One of the biggest reasons why a lot of us are anxious about this stage of the recruitment process is because of the responsibility tag it comes with.
For instance, if you hire the wrong person, it’ll not only impact the business, but your reputation too.
To overcome these fears, it’s a matter of planning and using the right methods.
Below, you’ll find several top tips to help give your interview game a serious tune up.
It’s all in the prep
Have you been guilty of forgetting about an interview and simply ‘winging it’?
As the old adage goes; “Fail to prepare, prepare to fail”. Being underprepared for an interview isn’t easy to hide. Not only will you look flustered, but the conversation won’t flow naturally.
In fact, it kind of turns into one of those awkward dinner dates – you know, the ones where you find yourself asking meaningless questions and scoffing your food down quickly just so you can make a speedy exit!
It can also make choosing the right candidate harder, as you won’t have the information you need to form a proper opinion on someone.
Before the interview, you should:
- Print out a copy of the candidate’s CV and study it so you can tailor some small talk/interview questions towards them.
- Review any work samples to get a feel for their work.
- Read the job description again and prepare a list of questions that are relevant to the role.
- Refresh yourself of the business’ ethos, structure and the benefits of the job.
- Have a notepad ready to score the candidate based on their answers.
Make it personal
As I briefly mentioned in the last point, tailoring the interview to an individual will not only make that person feel valued, but it’ll make the whole process more enjoyable too.
Ideally, you want to click with the candidate and find common ground – after all, you might have to work with them for a very long time.
So, while competency-based questions are an essential element of the interview, you should also focus some time on getting to know the candidate as well.
For example, if they enjoy watching films in their spare time, ask them what their favourite film is or get them to recommend one that’s out at the cinema at the moment.
At the end of the day, it’s about lightening the mood for both parties and allowing the candidate to open up. As a starting point, you may find our previous blog quite useful: ‘8 Interview Questions to Lighten the Mood’.
If you’re conducting multiple interviews on the same day using the same format, it can become extremely tedious.
Interview fatigue is a very real problem that could impact your ability to make the right decisions.
To combat this, you should:
- Make each interview personal (as mentioned above).
- Take regular breaks in between each interview.
- Limit yourself to a maximum of four each day.
- Ask other employees to sit in and help.
You can read more about this in our previous blog: ‘8 Potential Problems With Your Interview Process’.
Focus on the structure
Anything and everything in life need a structure or a frame. Without one, things come tumbling down.
The key to structuring your interviews in the right way is to follow a simple formula:
- Open on a positive note – don’t spend the first minute chatting about how manic your day has been. Instead, focus on thanking the candidate for attending, making them smile or offering them a cup of tea to make them feel welcome.
- Ease them in – don’t jump straight into the interview questions, introduce yourself and any other interviewers first. Tell them (in a positive way), why you’re hiring and be upfront about the process moving forward. However, keep this section reasonably brief. No candidate wants to hear you go on and on!
- Answer questions – just because you’re asking the questions, it doesn’t mean that the candidate won’t have any of their own. Try avoiding leaving this part right at the end, as many candidates feel overwhelmed by this point and often forget what they were going to ask. Let the candidate know that they can ask any questions as you’re asking them. This also helps make the conversation flow more naturally too.
- Finish on a high – rounding off an interview by thanking the candidate again or sending them off with good wishes about a personal interest of theirs is a great way to end things. For instance, if you learned that they’re playing in a football match that evening, wish them good luck. It’s the little things like this that makes the candidate feel like you were listening.
Address your biases
Before you start any interview process, you should look into any potential biases you may have. Whether you like it or not, research highlighted by The Guardian suggests that very few of us are totally without prejudice in some shape or form.
Upping your interview game is about being open to change, so at least if you’re aware of any slight biases you may have, you can make more of a conscious effort to discard them.
To help find out if you have any biases, you should take Harvard University’s Implicit Association Test (IAT).
Once you’re aware of any, you can get another person to help conduct the interview so that they can provide a different view on the candidate.
Final thoughts on how to up your interview game
Becoming a better interviewer is about evaluating yourself and the way that you usually conduct this stage of the recruitment process.
Once you establish this (including your biases), you can take a different approach next time around and get things absolutely right.
As a result, this knowledge will fill you with confidence and help reduce any feelings of anxiety you may usually experience.
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