There are many important elements of the recruitment process, from writing strong and accurate job descriptions to reliable reference checks. Having the right talent acquisition process is essential to hiring the best talent from everyone who applied for the job.
One of the most crucial stages in the hiring process is the job interview, where you get to learn more about the candidate than from what’s already written in their resumes and LinkedIn profiles. Aside from being able to assess skills, job interviews give you the opportunity to learn more about the job applicant's work experience, soft skills as well as their personality traits and unique strengths.
With these insights, you can make a proper evaluation of whether they are of a good fit for your job and company.
Tailoring your interviewing strategy is an important part of your HR strategy. A good approach towards planning and conducting job interviews can help you gain a competitive advantage in securing the best talent in the market. It would help you identify highly skilled talent with the best personality and boss fit for your organisation to minimise attrition rate as well.
Here are the 3 stages of a job interview process that will boost your talent optimisation strategy:
- planning and preparation
- the interview questions
- post-interview follow-up
Knowing how these different stages work will help you standardise your company’s interview process and create a more positive candidate journey that will result in better and more qualified hires.
1. planning and preparation
Just like any other project or task that you’ve worked on, the interview process will be much more efficient and productive when it has been thoroughly planned.
You only have a small window of time to learn about the relevant skills and potential of each applicant, so preparation is vital if you want to make the most of every job interview.
a. be organised and punctual
Always double check that you've made the right and practical arrangements for a smooth interview. Book a meeting room and make sure that you have booked it for enough time to conduct a thorough and structured interview. Even if the interview is conducted virtually, you should also make sure that you’ve allocated enough time for it.
Free up some time in your calendar before you meet with the candidate so that you’re prepared and ready to start on time. It is also recommended that you schedule some time right after the interview to review your notes and discuss with the other stakeholders while the interaction is still fresh in your mind.
Remember that the interview process is not just about evaluating job seekers. It's also an opportunity for individual applicants to get to know you better and make a decision of whether they want to work for you or not.
Regardless of whether the interview is held virtually or in-person, always be prepared. Inconvenient issues like being late for the interview or not having the right resume could reflect badly on your company. Your candidate may feel that your organisation is disorganised or that you don’t take them seriously enough.
b. research the applicant’s profile
Another key part of the interview planning and preparation phase is doing your research on the person who you’ll be interviewing.
Set aside some time to review all of the information you have about this individual, such as their skills, experience, qualifications and other attributes listed on their resume. If you’re looking to have a clearer idea of whether they will fit into your company culture, you might also want to consider doing a reference or a background check on these candidates through a brief social media screening to evaluate their online persona.
Background checks should always be a part of your due diligence to find out whether their posts and comments on social media platforms are offensive or derogatory. Knowing that these posts exist can help prevent you from making the mistake of hiring this individual who is likely to make a negative impact on your organisational morale and culture.
Becoming more familiar with the individual can help you through the next two stages of the preparation - the job interview questions.
c. prepare the interview questions
How should you start an interview and what are some of the questions that you should ask first?
Some of the questions you ask in interviews will be the same for every interviewee as it establishes fairness and consistency. For example, you might want to ask:
- What were your main responsibilities in your last job?
- Can you describe a problem you faced in your last employment and how you solved it?
- Which parts of your last job did you find stressful and how did you manage it?
However, it’s still important to prepare some personalised questions that are unique to the job applicant. You might want to ask them about gaps in their employment history, for example, or what they learned in particular past roles.
It can also be beneficial to come up with open-ended interview questions that will encourage the applicant to 'think outside the box' and communicate in a more natural, improvisational manner. You may also want to pose some work scenarios and challenges to find out how the interviewee would navigate them. When you move away from traditional questions, you’ll get to learn more about the interviewee’s experience, skills, characteristics and even communication style.
d. be ready to answer the job seeker’s questions
Prepared and highly-skilled candidates often seek companies that have a strong employer branding and offer good work-life benefits.
The interview is not just about you, it is also the chance for job seekers to know more about your company. Therefore, as much as you’re preparing questions to ask the candidate, you should also be prepared to answer some of their questions.
Here are some of the questions that you can expect to be asked during the interview:
- What are the company's unique selling points?
- What challenges does the company or your team currently face?
- Why is this role available?
- How many people do I report to / how many people will be reporting to me?
- What are the ways you recognise and reward your employees?
- What is expected of me during the first six months?
2. the interview
When it comes to the actual job interview, you should have a clear idea of how you want the conversation to flow and what you hope to learn from it. As a guide, you can focus on this framework that consists of three criteria:
- job fit
- boss fit
- company fit
This framework aims to help you build a comprehensive picture of the person's competency and potential, as well as their compatibility with your company culture and the people with whom they will be working with.
a. setting up a clear and comfortable context
It’s normal for some candidates to feel nervous, especially at the start of the interview. So you may want to think about how you can put them at ease. It can be challenging for you to get an accurate idea of their skills and personality if they are too nervous to be themselves.
You can maintain a calm demeanour yourself, greet them with a warm handshake and smile, ask some casual questions about their commute or take a generally lighthearted tone that encourages them to relax and speak freely. Instead of bombarding them with questions right away, you can:
- Introduce yourself - speak briefly about your role in the company and why you’re interested to interview them.
- Set the expectation - Explain the format of the interview, how long it will be and what will happen after.
Once that’s done, you can properly move on to evaluate them on the 3 criteria.
b. job fit
Evaluating the applicant's ability to do the job to a high standard should be your top priority. You should be looking for people who have the necessary core skills and experience for the role.They should also be genuinely interested in doing a good job and continuing to learn and develop with your company.
There are many possible questions that can help you evaluate job fit, such as:
- In your last performance appraisal, what did your manager identify as your biggest strengths?
- What are some of the systems that you operate on and how long did it take you to learn them?
- What are your key areas for improvement?
- Which aspects of this job do you think you would find most interesting or enjoyable?
- Which parts of the job do you think would be challenging?
Most of your questions to determine their job fit would have been prepared in advance, but you should also be ready to improvise and ask additional questions.
You might want them to expand on a certain point, or it may be necessary to rephrase a question to get a more enlightening answer. Getting more information from the interviewee would help you better evaluate their technical background and knowledge to better evaluate if they are qualified to perform the tasks that are expected of them.
During the course of the interview, pay close attention to how the applicant frames their answers and be ready to take notes on anything you notice. If you ask a question about past mistakes or weaknesses, look for indications that the interviewee is aware of their shortcomings, but is eager to develop and expand their skill set. Someone who is conscientious and willing to learn could make a better hire than someone who is technically competent but lacks motivation.
c. boss fit
Relationships between managers and employees are a critical part of work productivity. This is why you should always evaluate how well a candidate will work with you as their potential direct report as well as how well they work with others.
Tailor your questions to yield answers that will help you judge whether a candidate shares the values and beliefs as you.
You might consider asking:
- Who was the best manager you ever had and why did you enjoy working with them?
- Can you tell me about a time when you found it difficult working with a particular boss?
- What, specifically, did you dislike about their approach and how did you manage this situation?
You can analyse the applicant's ability to work with common management styles that are practised in your company. This is particularly important if the person with whom this candidate could be working - whether that's you or someone else - has a very particular approach of communicating and motivating your team.
d. company fit
Focusing on how well a potential recruit will integrate into your company can help you avoid the various costs of a bad hire - from the expenses involved in re-advertising the job to the productivity losses while the role remains unfilled.
Knowing your company values and way of work would help you determine whether the candidate will be a good culture fit for your company.
You can start to build a picture of these characteristics by asking questions like:
- Which of your past companies did you most enjoy working for and why?
- Can you tell me about a time when you were part of a highly successful team?
- What was the key to that team's success?
- What do you know about our company?
Key indicators to look out for in the answers include common uses of 'we', 'us' and 'our', rather than 'I', 'me' and 'mine', which you could take as a sign that this person is a natural team player.
It's also worth remembering that workplace conflicts and disagreements are inevitable, and the most important thing to focus on is the candidate’s ability to manage these situations gracefully when they occur.
3. post-interview follow-up
Once the job interview is completed, wrap it up by thanking the candidates for their time and outlining the next steps. It's particularly important to state how and when they can expect to receive feedback.
Note down your first thoughts and impressions immediately after the interview has finished while your memory is still fresh. It can be useful to ask yourself:
- What are this applicant's clearest strengths and weaknesses?
- Can gaps in their capabilities and experience be filled through training and development?
- Does this person seem like a natural fit with the rest of the team and the business?
Once you have clarified your own thoughts on the candidate, you can share any results and insights from the interview with other stakeholders either through e-mail or in-person.
Remember that the candidate invested their time to attend the interview and may have other offers on the table, so it's important to inform them of your decision as quickly as possible. Even if they won’t be proceeding further in the recruitment process, you should still provide feedback and share some tips to create a positive candidate experience.
These peer evaluations are important for job seekers as they will gain a clearer understanding of the interview outcomes. These hiring practices create a good experience for the candidates as they get the opportunity to learn more about themselves. It will also help strengthen your company reputation and employer brand as an organisation that genuinely cares about people.
we can help you find the perfect match
If you want to improve your recruitment efficiency, you can start by auditing your whole interview process to identify gaps that may lead to a poor candidate experience and create solutions to improve the outcomes.
Get in touch with us to secure your best-fit talent and to streamline your recruiting process. Find out more about our specialised talent recruitment services and let us help you build a winning talent attraction strategy.
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