Here’s a controversial statement:
Interviews are scarier for interviewers than interviewees.
Not only do you have the responsibility of structuring the interview, knowing exactly what you want and bringing the best out of a candidate, you have some pretty tough decisions to make at the end of it. Life-changing decisions, in fact.
But, before you go into interviewer meltdown, here are some tips to make sure you are fully prepared for the task ahead.
1. Know your business.
Not just your job.
That moment at the end of every interview when you ask the candidate if they have any questions? Make sure you can answer them. Whatever they may be. What skills does the business need long-term? Be ready to spot talent and think outside the box. They may not be right for this precise role but if you know the entire business inside out, you will be in a position to refer them, develop them and potentially hire someone who has the ability to make an impact in a way you never thought possible. So, re-learn your business in the same way that your potential candidate will be learning it for the first time. And don’t get caught out.
2. The last minute CV print-out.
A cursory glance over a candidate’s CV five minutes before they walk in the room just isn’t going to cut it. Prepare for the interview in the same way your candidate will have. If they knew your name in advance, presume they have researched you on Linkedin (maybe on Facebook too, god forbid) and do the same back. That way you can tailor your questioning to a real understanding of that person, getting the most out of your time together. Remember, you are both on trial here.
3. Start as you mean to go on.
Make the beginning of the interview as positive as possible. Putting your candidate at ease is going to help you analyse their suitability far more easily than if they are stressed or on edge. So start by giving information, rather than with the hard questions. Talk a little about your role, the vacancy, how it fits in with the business as a whole. Make them feel excited about the position and ease them into questions based on your knowledge of their experience. Remember when you’ve been on the other side and make this interview memorable for the right reasons.
4. Be specific.
This is where your knowledge of the candidate’s experience will really come into play. Dig deeper into their CV. What did that project return for the business? How did they create company buy-in for that campaign? A good candidate with a robust CV will relish these opportunities to share their expertise and knowledge. A bad candidate will expose themselves. An easy decision for you.
5. Culture first.
The last thing you want to do is be responsible for bringing in ‘that guy’ to the business. The one that simply doesn’t fit in, is difficult to work with and, no matter how extensive their experience, just never feels part of the team. Leave time in the interview for finding out about the person behind the CV. What do they do out of work? Generic answers won’t do here, do a bit of digging, where were they last weekend? Does that resonate with how your business or department operates? It’s not just about do you like them: will they bring that something extra to your company that it needs? And, from their point of view, will this be an enjoyable place for them to work? Only you can answer that one…