Preparing well for interviews will ensure success for all concerned
When you are selecting employees by interviewing applicants, you want to discover whether the candidate matches the employee specification closely and seems likely to be able to do the job well. The candidate is trying to find out if this is the type of post they want, at a company they would like to work for. To exchange the necessary information successfully so that the most suitable person is chosen and accepts your job offer, you must prepare for interviews thoroughly. An interview plan should consist of a list of topics that you want to cover during an interview, with a number of questions under each heading which will help you to match the candidate with the employee specification. Draw one up in collaboration with your colleagues before any interviews with shortlisted candidates are conducted. Having a skeletal plan in front of you at an interview reminds you to deal with all the main areas (if you're nervous you may overlook one or two), allows you to listen to the candidate's answers without thinking what to say next and enables you to return or move to another topic or question if he or she dries up, rambles on or even tries to take over the interview. It is up to you which topics and questions to include. Some interviewers base their interview on the application form or the letters and CVs received from candidates. They work through each section in turn, checking details, asking questions and dealing with queries as they arise. Other interviewers, mindful that they are trying to compare candidates with the imaginary employee required, use the employee specification itself, posing questions about the candidate's skills and abilities, attainments and so on.
A typical interview might begin with a brief chat about the company and job, bearing in mind that every candidate will want to know as much as possible about these topics. Following this, information given in the application form, curriculum vitae or letter could be checked to ensure the candidate really does meet the criteria set. Moving on, questions might be asked about a candidate's education, work experience, outside interests, any anomalies apparent in the application, and ambitions. Then, the candidate could be given the opportunity to ask any questions they might have thought of. Whatever your choice of approach, always remember that every interview and interviewee is unique, so do not stick rigidly to a set order of topics and questions, when the interviewee may reveal more about himself or herself if approached differently. Use the plan as a loose framework around which the interview is built. Above all, avoid noting down too many questions that must be asked. Only a handful of strictly relevant ones, chosen because they may spark a discussion or compare the candidate with the employee specification, should be recorded. Attempting to plough through a long list of questions will restrict the flow of the conversation -and make the candidate feel as though they're being interrogated by a police investigator! If you make good use of your interview plan, you will escape the temptation to make a decision about the candidate in the first few minutes. (Thoughts such as 'Bites his nails - obviously can't handle pressure' are sadly all too common.) Instead, you will come to an accurate assessment based on a systematic analysis of the facts.