How to Interview to Select the Best Candidates for Jobs

5 Essentials to Get the Basics Right

Many employers tell us that interviewing prospective candidates for roles is not top of their list in terms of preferred activities. Whether we like it or not, setting up a good process for selection is very important. It needs to be fair for all candidates, and provide enough information to help you choose the best person for the role.

Career Clinic was recently asked to be part of an interview panel for an organisation we have worked alongside for some time. We have a pretty clear understanding of their goals and objectives, and have seen the CEO create a workplace with a high level of commitment and respect from staff. He is recognised as a leader who invests in the professional growth and development of his people. So it came as no surprise that the interview process was well structured in terms of questions and assessment criteria, and also had flexibility in terms of the follow up process. 

At Career Clinic, we regularly coach people in interview technique. We focus on a range of things that help clients prepare and present well in order to be effective. 

But what makes for a good interview from the perspective of an employer? What do you need to do to get the best from your interview process? 

Interviews 101 
A professional interview process takes preparation. Preparing well is the key for a straight-forward process that will enable you to assess candidates, and give you solid information in order to be able to compare candidates with each other. The following tips are starting points to consider as you prepare for your next interviews. 

  1. Set up interview times with potential candidates that are reasonably close together. You are more likely to remember specific content from each interview, and comparisons between candidates will be a lot easier while fresh in your mind. Allow time between interviews to rate candidates and take notes.
  2. Set up a panel of people to interview candidates. Why a panel? It is difficult for one person to focus fully, ask all the questions that need to be answered, record relevant points from answers, observe candidate behaviour carefully, and create the right kind of experience for candidates to do well. Single-person interviews sell the process short, and a lot of subjective factors come into play. 
  3. Choose a panel that includes someone from outside your team, branch, or organisation. An independent panelist is likely to approach interviews from a more neutral position and might pick up on things that others don’t. They will often ask different kinds of questions, and are less likely to be influenced by internal organisation dynamics.
  4. Give plenty of notice of the interview and what will be involved, names of interviewers and clear directions to the interviewees so that they are able to prepare well.
  5. Prepare the questions to be asked and print out in a table format allowing space for interviewers to take notes and rate candidates. You need to prepare regular, open-ended questions, and very importantly, behavioural questions, which research supports is the best way to determine how a candidate will behave in the future. You also want to ask questions about a range of information including:
  • General background and interests
  • Skills and experience specific to the role as outlined in the job description
  • Past roles, performance, and achievements
  •  Strengths and weaknesses
  • Attitudes and values in relation to the culture and fit for your organisation
  • Aspirational and career-related questions 

Work out some kind of rating or assessment schedule for candidate answers. This makes it easier to compare candidates afterwards and provides you with evidence for the final selection.

Your process is more likely to be successful if you prepare well and pay attention to the details. 

Give us a call if you’d like help with your interview process, or if you want an experienced, independent person to sit on your interview panel.
Phone:  Janet Tuck:  021 526 387 | Caroline Sandford:  027 287 9822

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