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how to interview

How To Interview Someone For A Job (Part 1) | Planning The interview

how to interview

Interviews can be just as stressful for interviewers as the interviewee. In our four part series on interview tips for interviewers we will look at how to plan an interview; how to structure an interview; interview questions and topics to cover; and following up after an interview. In this post we look at planning an interview.

 

Part 1: Planning

Good planning will reduce anxiety and therefore enable panel members to give their full attention to the actual interview. Before the interview, the panel needs to take time together to sort out the following:

 

1. Clarifying and agreeing selection criteria

The selection criteria should be taken from the person specification. The panel need to take time to ensure that they are all agreed on these criteria with a common understanding of what they mean. Develop an interview marking form for each member of the panel with the names of the candidates and a list of the criteria. The panel should assess each candidate against each criterion. They usually do this individually directly after the interview.

 

2. Planning questions

From their agreed understanding of the selection criteria then develop a limited set of specific questions pertaining to the essential duties and responsibilities of the position to probe for the candidate’s strengths and weaknesses. The interview is for a limited time so it is essential that each question is focused and purposeful. The questions should be designed to make sure that the panel gets the information needed to assess whether this person will be the most suitable for the position.

 

Interview questions should only relate to the job requirements. When framing questions employment and equality legislation should be borne in mind. Care should be taken to avoid questions whose content or wording might be perceived as giving rise to unequal treatment of one candidate compared to another of a different age, gender, marital status etc. Questions should deal with a candidate’s skills, talents, qualifications and help him or her demonstrate their capacity to do the job.

 

The panel should decide in advance who will ask which questions and in what order. The panel also needs to clarify what information they should give to the candidates during the course of the interview, for example:

 

– Terms and conditions: It is important that the panel is clear about the range of terms and conditions being offered. Be clear about the period of probation, if there are unsocial hours to be worked, the nature of the contract, permanent or fixed term, and the salary scale.

 

– Making the decision: It is good to be explicit about the timing of the decision-making and how the decision is to be communicated to the candidates.

 

3. Interview practice

If one or more members of the interview panel have not interviewed before it is helpful to practise agreed questions to check that they are clear and well communicated. Role plays are very useful for practising interview skills.

 

4. Roles on the interview panel

The panel needs to allocate roles, responsibilities and question areas. It is important not to stereotype members of the panel in the process. It is advisable to have a chairperson of the panel. The four key tasks of the chairperson are:

 

– To facilitate the panel in planning the interview process together
– To facilitate and direct the interviews according to the agreed structure and timing
– To ensure that the panel reflects on how they are working as a team throughout the day as necessary and make changes accordingly
– To facilitate the panel discussion and decision making process

 

5. The panel as a team

The panel needs to work together as a team so it is very helpful for members to consider in advance how they will deal with potential problems and disagreements. They also need to ensure that they have shared understanding of what equal opportunities interviewing entails. It is advisable to discuss how they can interrupt each other if they think it is necessary. It helps to take time after the first interview to evaluate how it went and how the panel are working together.

 

6. Structure of the interview

The interview should be planned so that it relates directly to the job description, the person specification and the candidate. If it is a large panel it is important to ensure that the interview is not just a series of short, superficial exchanges with each member. It is useful to tell each candidate the plan for the interview at the outset.

 

7.Timetable for the interviews

It is wise not to cram too many interviews into one day, six to eight at maximum. To make the best selection and to be fair to all candidates the interview panel needs to be able to maintain attention and remember all the interviews with equal clarity.

 

There should be a copy of the timetable for the day, with the timing and spacing of interviews, breaks and running order with the candidates’ names, for each member of the panel and for the person working on reception. The length of interviews depends on the job and is usually from half an hour up to an hour. It is essential to give the panel adequate time to ascertain fully the interviewee’s skills and experience in each of the requirements specified in the person specification. If there are two sets of interviews for a position the first is usually shorter and the second is longer, giving the panel an opportunity to explore areas in greater depth.

 

8. Venue and physical environment

The physical environment for the interview and for candidates waiting to be interviewed is very important. The furniture in the interview room should be arranged to help both the candidates and the interview panel concentrate, feel comfortable and be at ease. Put up notices that indicate the interview and waiting rooms are in use and ensure that there will be no interruptions during the interviews. Make sure that there is somebody to let the candidates in, get them a cup of tea or coffee and show them where the bathroom is.

 

9. Agreeing a decision-making procedure

The panel also needs to agree in advance how they will make a decision. It is recommended that the panel takes time after each interview to score candidates individually according to each of the selection criteria and then to have a short collective discussion. Members should be reminded that in order to ensure fairness their assessments must be made on the basis of evidence from the interview rather than gut reactions or intuition. It is essential to have time for reflection and note-taking after each interview as people forget things easily. At the end of all the interviews, the panel should take time to make their decision by comparing their assessments and discussing each candidate. If the panel have used an interview marking form, the final decision may be on the basis of this.

 

10.Records

The following official records should be kept for six months after the interviews are completed in order to be able to deal with any subsequent complaints:

  • Job description
  • Person specification
  • Job advertisement
  • Application forms
  • Shortlisting procedure
  • Selection criteria
  • General framework for questions as planned in advance and where possible particular questions that arose during the interview
  • Interview assessments for each candidate
  • References
  • Any correspondence with candidates
  • Final decision and the reason for making it.

 

11. References

It is important to clarify in advance what status will be given to references and at what stage in the selection process they will be sought. Generally references are not seen as a source of objective information so they should be weighted accordingly. References are most useful for checking out factual information, e.g. qualifications, length of service, sick leave record, attendance record, terms and conditions and reasons for leaving a job.

 

It is advisable to plan what information is required of referees and not to ask for more than is necessary.

 

It is important to consider the possibility that a negative reference may be due to personal bias. In the case of a negative reference about a candidate who the panel considers very suitable, it may be necessary to check it out further by discussing it with the candidate to get his/her version of events. One of the referees should be the candidate’s current or last employer.

Posted by Recruitment Consultant, Sigmar on 7 December 2017

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