Possibly the most difficult task for any employer to undertake – particularly the owner of a start-up or small business – is recruiting staff.
Finding the right candidate to fit a role and the business itself is crucial to the success of the business going forward, but the process of identifying that person is a daunting prospect.
Advertising the position, sifting CVs and coming up with a short list of likely prospects with the right skills, experience and qualifications is just the beginning. It is the all-important interview that plays an essential part in choosing the right person for the job. It’s your chance to assess and get to know a stranger; to find out if you and he/she can build a mutually beneficial working relationship.
The main thing to remember when embarking on job interviews with prospective employees is that it is not just you who will be assessing them, but they will also be using the interview to get a measure of you and your company as an employer.
Here are some helpful hints gleaned from recruitment specialists to help you through the interview process:
Set aside sufficient time to concentrate on interviewing applicants so that you don’t become distracted and hurried – two traits that will not make the interviewee feel at ease or impressed with your professionalism.
Be familiar with the candidate’s CV so that you can engage with him/her accurately.
It’s a good idea to have a script ready for the interview, even if this is just a rough one, so that you don’t overlook any important points. Take notes as you go, so you can refer back to them later and refresh your memory, particularly if you are conducting a string of interviews.
Conducting the Interview
You’ve no doubt been on “the other side” of the interview table yourself, so you know how nervous most candidates will be. So as not to intimidate the candidate, sit counter-corner to him/her and preferably not opposite. Offer a drink to lubricate that dry mouth.
First impressions are important, as we all know, and one can surely expect a prospective job candidate to have made an effort to look clean and neat for a job interview, no matter what the role is. If the candidate is scruffy or slovenly that should strike you as an instant demerit!
You may regard an initial limp or hesitant hand-shake as off-putting, demonstrating a lack of confidence, but this need not count against a candidate unless he/she is going to have a sales or customer-facing role in your business.
Once you start chatting, set the applicant at ease with some small talk that need not be relevant to the job. Then you can begin to explain the role on offer, and launch into a detailed job description. It’s always helpful to clarify to yourself and the candidate up front what you want and need to fill the job.
The candidate should, of course, be invited to ask questions on the topic of the job role, and then you can move on to your own questions.
Most recruiters suggest starting out by simply asking: “Why have you chosen this role?” The way the candidate responds will go a long way towards giving you an overall picture of the person.
Also revealing is asking the candidate what, if any, research he/she has done into your company and/or field of business in preparation for the interview. If he/she is truly interested in your brand, product or service then this should be apparent in his/her response to the question.
The idea is to ask questions that will give you an insight into the opinions, experience, character and personality of the candidate so you can assess whether he/she can benefit your company.
Some advocate being “creative” with the interview, subjecting candidates to unexpected weird challenges or catchy questions to gauge their reaction. It’s up to you whether you think asking interviewees which kitchen utensil they would choose to be, or having them run on the spot for a minute, would give you insight into their character or suitability for the job.
Some positions may require skills testing as part of an interview, and that’s fair enough as long as the tests are conducted professionally.
There’s no way to conduct the perfect interview, just as there is probably no such thing as the perfect person for the job, but by following all the guidelines and knowing what you are looking for from the outset you will hopefully come as close as possible to perfection!