ADVICE : ten top tips: How to conduct a successful interview

There are plenty of tips for job seekers on how to behave in an interview, but what’s the secret to successfully conducting one? Using the right interview techniques can help employers identify candidate who is not only technically competent, but, just as importantly good fit for the company culture. Successfully conducting interviews requires just as much preparation as if you were on the other side of the interview desk. To properly evaluate candidates, you need to ask the right questions. By asking the right questions throughout the interview process you should get more than enough information to assess each candidate, and armed with that information you can then confidently choose the best person for your organisation.
1 Know what you are looking for Before you interview any candidates, undertake skills audit so you know exactly what qualifications candidate needs. You can then match these skills with those listed on the candidate’s CV and filter applications accordingly.
2 Understand your role in the interview process You are there to find out as much as possible about each candidate, to find out if they are the best match for the job. So thoroughly prepare and formulate specific questions relevant to each candidate.
3 Start the interview on the right foot Interviews can be nerve-racking, so put your candidate at ease with proper introduction. Even if you have spoken before, it’s important to re-introduce yourself and state your position within the company.
4 Decide which questioning techniques to use Competency-based questions are ideal to find out if the candidate has the necessary expertise. They involve asking questions to reveal candidate’s behaviour and go beyond their technical skills. This can include questions such as “How did you approach this task” or “How did you overcome this difficulty”. You can also use the ‘funnelling’ principle by asking broad question, then following up with more specific questions. Using these techniques will reveal the candidate’s strengths and weaknesses as well.
5 Encourage candidates to open up Try using few easy questions mixed with more difficult ones to help relax the candidate.
6 Get to the bottom of it Sometimes you may feel that candidate is exaggerating their level of experience or perhaps they talk in the plural, which makes it difficult to find out what they actually did in team projects. To get to the truth, ask targeted follow-up questions about their personal contribution such as, “What was the main objective of this project and how did you achieve this?”
7 Demonstrate the company culture to candidates Candidates are judging your organisation as much as you are judging them, therefore knowing your company benefits and being able to articulate them is crucial. Does your company offer any benefits such as health insurance or child care? Be honest about your experiences and introduce them to other members of the team.
8 Don’t hesitate to discuss salary By discussing the topic of salary you can manage candidate’s expectations and reassure them that you can reach mutual agreement. However, it is vital not to commit to any exact figures or extend any offers during these discussions.
9 Make the most of reference checks If you are interested in candidate after the first interview, begin reference checking before their next interview. This allows you to address any specific concerns you have about them and tailor your questions for the next interview. No one wants to be the reason why someone didn’t get job, so ensure that you listen carefully to person’s tone while speaking and ask them questions that require bit of explanation.
10 Close the interview properly Finally, don’t leave candidates wondering what’s next. Outline the next steps and when they can expect to hear from you again.

Megan Alexander is division director of Robert Half Finance & Accounting in Auckland. www.roberthalf.co.nz

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