The interview is a pivotal point in the hiring process. Candidates will often focus on those few moments because they realise how critical they are and there are seemingly endless sources of advice on the subject. And with good reason, even the best candidate can make or break the chance of a dream job with a bad interview.
What is less commonly considered, though, is the importance of the interview for the employer. Which is odd, because if the interview is the point at which a great candidate can crash out of the game, so to speak, then it is also the point where a potential employer could miss out on an excellent employee. In these times of skills shortage and low unemployment, that is a concerning thought, and when you add in the high cost of a bad hire, it becomes even more so.
How to get the right person
The interview does not need to be a daunting process though for either side of the table, and with a few simple strategies in place, the prospective employer can be that much more certain that they are getting the right person.
Interviews are important
The first thing to look at is the question of why the interview is so important. In the IT arena, there will usually have been a pre-selection process that has already pruned the people with the wrong skill set or experience or unsuitable education levels and so on from the list. That process means that the purpose of the interview is about suitability for the role in the personal sense and although you may well want to re-affirm skill sets and desired qualities, the interview is unlikely to focus on them. The interview is often as much an introduction and personal meeting as it is a formal second assessment of skills.
It is important to plan in advance what strategies will be adopted in the interview. An even playing field and consistent approach are needed if you want to really evaluate the interviewee. However, it is also important to ensure that you are allowing the candidates to shine. One common comment made after interviews by candidates is that the panel didn’t give them much opportunity to talk. Making room for the candidate to communicate in their own way and in an encouraging environment will really help with clear assessment.
It helps if the panel is familiar with the client and, bearing in mind the areas you should not really be discussing for equal opportunities reasons, they can draw on this. Similarly, the candidate may need information in advance of the interview to prepare for any specific technical discussions or similar that may be a part of the discussion.
Try to stick to the expected timescale as much as possible. It is often tempting to get into a conversation with a candidate that can drag out the interview process and this is particularly true when they have common ground. Worse still is the interview that runs dramatically short.
Ethos and values
The company ethos and the values you expect in employees will probably play a big role in the way you approach the interview. The candidate will show more of who they are and their own ethos if the interview panels approach is open and clear about what the company expects and the ‘zeitgeist’ of the team. Company culture is actually a very big motivator for an employee and the more they see of it, the more honestly they will respond.
Finally, there is still a lot to be said for the introduction to the workplace. The walk around and the meet the team part of the process are still important to everyone. A meet and greet can diffuse the more formal part of the interview.
In the final analysis, openness, honesty and a clear set of goals will facilitate an interview that not only goes smoothly but also results in a reduced chance of a bad hire.
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