Interview advice for employers

April 15th, 2016

As the most exercised method of recruitment, interviewing is often not given the attention it deserves. This article will guide you through a basic interview process and should allow you to hold interviews which are fair and also allow you to select the best candidate for a given role.

The current best practice interview style is a competency based interview. People often get confused by what is actually meant by competency but at a very basic level a competency is just a skill which is needed to do a particular job. A competency based interview is just a systematic way for an employer to test whether someone has the competencies which they need them to have in order to do a job.

The first step in the interview process is to understand which competencies are required to excel in a particular job.

So if you are recruiting for an administrator for example, the kinds of competencies you would b

e looking for are: attention to detail, organisation and prioritisation, communication, presentation, professionalism and team work. You would be looking for a candidate which scored highly in all those areas.

Competencies exist at multiple levels:

Competency matrix

Once you have identified the competencies needed for the role you can begin to identify which of the candidates you have shortlisted is an appropriate match for the job. First you need to write down a series of standard questions to ask the interviewees which will allow you to see if they have the qualities you need.

So for our administrator, you would ask questions like: Can you explain to me how you would keep track of tasks and make sure they were all completed within a busy office environment. This question will give you lots of insights into the candidates approach to organisation. If they struggle with this question, it’s likely they are not a good match for the job. You should aim to ask at least two questions for each competency which you want to identify.

Once the candidate answers the question, you can further understand their ability by asking for examples. These questions generally begin with:

  • Tell me about a time when you….
  • Give an example of a situation where….
  • Describe a scenario….

It is also a good idea to make these questions specific to the interviewees CV, asking them to elaborate on parts of their experience which you think may be relevant to the job.

Business people waiting
These questions will allow you to test their approach to see if they have actually utilised the skills they explained within a work environment.

Be careful.

It is illegal to discriminate against candidates due to sex, race or disability so it’s best to ensure that the interview process is run the same way with all the candidates to avoid any possibility of discrimination on these grounds. Sticking to a competency based approach will enable you to avoid these issues.

For a successful interview you should focus on the following points:

  1. Make sure the candidate has opportunity to speak – don’t direct them with closed questions which have yes or no answers or allow them to give one line responses
  2. Make sure the candidate is feeling comfortable – try to avoid creating an atmosphere where the candidate will feel there are wrong answers to the questions, remember there are no wrong answers, just suitable and unsuitable candidates
  3. Make sure that you follow a similar structure with all the candidates – this will help avoid any possibility of bias or discrimination. A recommended structure could be:
    • Ask the candidate to tell you a little bit about themselves
    • Go through the candidates CV – focusing on any relevant experience
    • Outline what the person who gets the job will be expected to do
    • Ask competency based questions to see if the candidate would be a good fit for the job
    • Ask the candidate if they have any questions
  4. Make sure that the candidate is clear about what the job will involve and make sure that their expectations of the job match yours – This is critical and is often the reason why ‘ideal’ candidates can leave the job after a short period
  5. Make sure that you notify all the candidates whether they have been successful
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