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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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‘Work smarter, not longer.’ This is the attitude more and more employers are adopting as flexible and part-time working becomes increasingly normalised by businesses. There are only so many hours in the day – to avoid taking work home with you, it’s important to be productive in the time you have. In a world of short attention spans and incessant distractions, however, that can be difficult. Here are 10 small ways you can increase your productivity at work and better attain that mythical work/life balance. 1. Document Your Time Humans’ awareness of time is historically warped. In very few scenarios can we accurately estimate how much time has passed, with our perception able to be distorted by factors such as temperature, season, time of day or emotional state. It’s therefore a great idea to document how much time a day you actually spend on completing certain tasks. 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How to Look After Your Mental Health in the Workplace

“Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also more hard to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increase the burden: It is easier to say "My tooth is aching" than to say "My heart is broken".” – C.S. Lewis The month of May marks Mental Health Awareness Month around the world – a time for highlighting the key battles we have yet to fight in the war against the stigmatisation of mental health issues. A recent study by VHI revealed that almost 70% of Irish corporate employees admit to needing to look after their mental wellness more effectively, and 1 in 5 have missed work due to anxiety, depression or stress in the past year. It is always advisable to seek the advice of a professional if you have concerns about your mental health. However, there are small, yet effective, measures you can take to improve your wellbeing in the workplace that can spread into your personal life in a positive, affirming way. Work/Life Balance Sir Ken Robinson noted in his keynote speech at Sigmar’s Talent Summit 2018 that, although the invention of emails was promised to save us time, we have since found that, if anything, we are less and less able to leave work behind in the workplace. It is now part of most people’s routines to check their phones first thing in the morning and reply to work-related emails before leaving home, always thinking about what needs to be done that day. It’s important that you ‘work smart, not long.’ This means actively leaving work behind in the office, working efficiently during the day so you don’t feel compelled to continue with it after hours. If the quantity of work you are being expected to complete within working hours is too much to do so successfully, be sure to speak up and discuss the manageability of your workload with your supervisor. Communication is key – they’re going to keep piling on the work as long you stay quiet about how overwhelmed you are, so make sure you speak up and be heard before it becomes too much to handle. Employers won’t know where the pressure lies unless you tell them. If you’re unsure of how much your work life spills over into your personal life, why don’t you try keeping a log for a month? Jot down in a diary how many hours you work every day – not just when you’re sitting at your desk, but when you’re thinking about work at home, composing emails and returning calls out of hours. It may build a more objectively troubling picture than you can see currently from the inside. Make The Most Of Your Breaks Don’t be afraid to make the most of the breaks you are allotted at work. Once you’re on a roll, it’s tempting to power through lunchtime and eat at your desk, one eye always on your computer screen. Try and avoid doing this when you can. 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You may also be pleasantly surprised at how easily solutions pop into your head when you take just a few minutes to collect your thoughts. Communication This one works both ways for employers as well as employees. Communication is the key to destigmatising conversations about mental health. In his TEDx talk on workplace mental health, Tom Oxley says ‘you don’t make people unwell by talking about mental health – you give them the opportunity to speak out sooner’. There’s a flawed unspoken terror that speaking out about mental illness will somehow worsen the problem, as if it’s contagious or something you can conjure up into existence within your own mind. The reality is that many sufferers don’t feel able to speak up due to the prejudice surrounding their condition, and the fear that their workplace would not be supportive of them if they did so. The best way an employer can foster an atmosphere of positivity, health and wellbeing is to ensure that their workers know that they are free to talk openly about any feelings of stress, anxiety or depression and won’t face indirect penalisation for doing so. The first reaction of many employers is to offer a struggling staff member limited time off to recover, then expect them to return to work and continue as usual. While time off may be a solution for some employees, bosses should also consider the advantages of offering flexible working hours to affected workers. Tom Oxley strongly advocates for good communication practices between employers and employees to ensure that no one ever feels alienated from their place of work, and that anxieties don’t build up over time into uncontrollable crises. In turn, employees should communicate to their employers about their feelings on mental health in the workplace, as far as they feel comfortable to do so. Being transparent about how you’re feeling and what you need from your job to help you recover will give your boss the tools to help you in the way that’s most beneficial for you. If you are worried that taking time off would only serve to isolate you from the company, voice that concern. Your employer should want to get the very best out of you – they hired you for a reason. It’s in their interest to give you the support you need. Create a healthy routine Studies have consistently proven a strong link between mental health and physical health, and specialists are adamant that one of the best ways to maintain good mental wellbeing is to look after your physical welfare. Your job may be intellectually demanding, with long hours and difficult tasks you have to tackle each day, taking a toll on your mental health. This also likely means your job is sedentary. Indeed, scientists have connected the rise in global obesity to the increasing number of jobs that don’t require any form of physical activity. You may be hard pressed to find the time to exercise during a busy work week, but it’s important you look after your body – it will only beneficially impact your mental wellbeing. Take a stroll during your lunchbreak, do 30 mins of yoga before work, or even try training for a half marathon over the course of a few months. Be sure to stock up your desk drawer with nutritious snacks rather than sugary ones, such as nuts, fruit and protein bars. Snacknation has published an extensive list of delicious office snack ideas if you’re dry on inspiration. These are just a few ways you can work to ensure your mental wellbeing in the workplace, which will in turn hopefully boost your productivity, energy and, ultimately, happiness. While mental health is something we can’t always necessarily control, we can impact the way in which we talk about it, breaking down the harmful social barriers that currently thwart constructive discussions on preventative measures.