Employer Interview Tips

Employer interview tips from Clarion ResourcingConducting job interviews is an integral part of daily life as a people manager.  And while you have to ensure that the person before you represents the correct fit professionally and culturally, you also have to sell the role and organisation to them, particularly if demand for their skillsets is high.

The competition for high quality, experienced employees is intense.  Building a hard-working, stable and motivated team of people around you is critical to the success of your department and ultimately the overall business.

It’s expensive to recruit staff and even more expensive when it goes wrong.  Think of the lost productivity and financial cost of having to go back out to the market, in the event that your existing selection of candidate just hasn’t worked out.

The interview process begins with a face-to-face with an individual candidate but the recruitment process itself starts much earlier than this.  One of the earlier steps involves a detailed assessment of covering letters and resumes, irrespective of whether you have engaged a third party to assist with the recruitment process.

At this initial stage, we would recommend casting as wide a net as possible particularly if the job specification requires a broad range of skills.  By failing to do so, you run the risk of ending up with a candidate pool which is too small and putting yourself in the unenviable position of having to choose someone who doesn’t necessarily fulfil all requirements.  You may also miss out on good quality candidates if your initial screening approach is too narrow.

The number of candidates can then be whittled down through pre-screening telephone interviews.  These interviews can be conducted by the hiring individual directly, by a HR professional or perhaps by a third party agency.

In the current climate where the number of applications for a position typically outstrips supply, there is a strong case to be made for engaging the services of a third party specialist recruitment agency at this stage.  A professional agency with highly qualified recruitment consultants can use their expertise to work through the application volume and selectively identify the individuals who on paper at least, represent a good fit with the role at hand.  They can also conduct the initial pre-screening interviews, saving the employer valuable time and ensuring that only the ‘cream of the crop’ are called forward for personal interview.

Once the number of interview candidates has been settled on, the interview process is framed.

Decide whether you will use an interview panel, perhaps consisting of HR and other senior managers, whose team will be working closely with this individual.  It’s worth remembering that you can also use the panel setup as a real world training exercise for a junior member of staff in an effort to give them exposure to various interview techniques.

While the panel interview is obviously more daunting for the candidate, it yields some significant benefits for the hiring manager.  Firstly, it gives a more objective view of the candidate as input from several members of the panel can be considered and carefully assessed post-interview.  One-to-one interviews are extremely subjective and sole interviewers can easily miss telling verbal or non-verbal communications, while trying to manoeuvre to the next question on their list.

Interview panels therefore, provide more time for each panel member to ask questions and assess answers (while others take up the questioning).  For this reason, they can provide a more rounded and accurate view of the interviewee.

And on the subject of questions, you, as an interviewer also need to be adequately prepared for the interview.   The job specification, drawn up at the outset, will form the basis of many questions you will have.  But employers are increasingly using competency questions, probing past behaviours and asking for real world examples of how interviewees may have used their skills and experience to solve particular problems in the past.  Hypothetical questions with more immediate reference to your own organisation can also be asked to probe how interviewees would deal with certain situations.  These practical examples give you as an interviewer some insight into how quickly the candidate can think on his/her feet and how they would potentially respond to a live issue that you or your team may be currently grappling with.

Professional questions are only one part of the equation though.  Personal questions which aim to uncover a little of the candidate’s personality are perhaps as important.  The answer to these questions allow you to assess whether the candidate represents a cultural fit with the organisation and whether they will positively interact with and contribute to the appropriate teams within the business.

In that regard, softer questions which aim to unearth information about a person’s attitude, motivation and initiative need plenty of forethought.  You will also want to examine attributes such as stability and loyalty and make a judgement as to whether this individual will commit to your team over the long term.

Finally, it’s worth pointing out that there are questions that cannot be asked under existing equality legislation.  These questions cover everything from gender, age and race to religion, family status or sexual orientation.  Even indirect questions that are designed to uncover information in relation to any of these areas are not permissible under Irish law.

On June 17th, 2013, posted in: Blog by
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