Conducting an Effective Interview
A key requirement of an interview is that questions must be job-related and have a legitimate purpose of discovery. This ensures that information which may cause the candidate to be discriminated against in the selection process is not sought. All questions should be relating to the selection criteria and pertain to the individual’s suitability for the role.
Tips for preparing for a good interview:
- Interviewers should have a strong understanding of the role and what it requires.
- Interviews should be held in an appropriate location – somewhere quiet, well-lit and without distractions, ensuring there is enough space for all parties to sit comfortably.,
- Details of the interview should be conveyed clearly ahead of time including directions to the location and details of who will be involved. Information should also be provided as to what the candidate can expect from the interview, how long the interview will take and what the candidate should bring or prepare ahead of time.
- Relevant questions should be prepared ahead of the interview, and the panel members should be briefed on the format. Ensure the interviewers are familiar with the questions ahead of the interview.
- All interviewers should have access to the candidate’s application ahead of the interview and be familiar with it.
- Ensure enough time is allocated to the interview. Where possible don’t run interviews back to back this will allow time for interviewers a chance to review after meeting each candidate.
- Put the candidate at ease at the start of the interview with some small talk, offering a beverage and ensuring they have everything they need before you commence.
- Use the selection criteria, position description and the person specification as the basis for the interview.
During the interview
- Provide introductory information at the commencement of the interview about the organisation, the team and the role.
- Introduce the interviewers and provide relevant details such as who the interviewers are and how they relate to the position.
- Outline the process that will be undertaken, including any other processes that are being used to source information such as testing or reference checks. i.e. ‘Today’s interview is part of the first-round interviews. We are interviewing 5 candidates at this stage. We will have a second round of interviews with the CEO later in the week, after which time we will conduct reference checks. We are looking to make an appointment by early next week.’
- Outline the structure of the interview. Explain to the candidate what will happen throughout the course of the interview. For example, “we will tell you a bit about our organisation, we will then ask you to tell us about your previous experience and we will end with some behavioural based interview questions.” This assists with putting the candidate at ease.
- Keep the interview relevant and informative
- The focus should be on objective information gathering
- Skills and knowledge
- Work history and professional experience
- Education and training
- Personal attributes and behaviour
- Ask the same questions of each candidate. This ensures that you are maintaining consistency and improves your ability to evaluate effectively.
- Give relevant details as to why the candidate has reached this stage in the selection process i.e. ‘We are impressed with the breadth of your experience in the industry and particularly your achievements in your current role’.
- The interviewer should give the candidate their full attention without distraction or interruption and allow the candidate to qualify any answers to questions and talk freely.
- Interviewers should take notes to assist them in recalling the key points about each candidate (especially where many candidates are being interviewed) while being aware these notes may be made available to the candidate under privacy law requirements.
- Be polite and attentive – remember you are representing your organisation.
- After the provision of introductory information, in the interest of establishing rapport, begin the interview with easy questions and gradually build up to more complex, probing questions.
- Where appropriate, use open-ended questions which allow candidates to express themselves and not just answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’. For example “tell me about your previous job” is more likely to reveal more information than “did you work for company X?”
- Start questions with “why”, “what”, “when”, “where” and “how”.
- Make sure the exact meaning of your question is clear by using simple and appropriate words. Do not use technical terms or jargon unless both the interviewer and the applicant understand the meaning.
- Do not ask leading questions which imply what the answer should be. For example, ‘You didn’t like the client liaison aspect of the job?’ could be more impartially phrased ‘How did you feel about the client liaison aspect of the job?’
What not to do in an interview:
- Avoid making snap judgements at the start of the interview based on appearance or first interaction.
- Do not be rude, aggressive, patronizing or inattentive. Remember you are also representing your organisation.
- Do not use terms such as “boy”, “girl” or other terms such as “darling”, “sweetheart” etc
- Ensure your questions are not inappropriate or discriminatory. (see guidelines for non-discriminatory interviews)
- Don’t take over the interview. Allow the applicant to speak openly and do not cut them short unless necessary.
- Don’t lead the applicant in their responses or finish their answer for them.
- Don’t take too may notes during the interview – it may distract the candidate and cause them to lose concentration or interrupt their train of thought.