People First Personnel

Preparing for interviews


Interviewing candidates requires a lot of preparation which will help you evaluate candidates more effectively while demonstrating your company’s values. It is important to create a positive interview experience as the ideal candidates will likely have other offers to consider.

This article serves as an interview preparation guide, ensuring you have everything in place to conduct the perfect interview and attract the best candidates.

Choosing the interview location

The ideal location of an interview depends entirely on the role you’re hiring for, as well as the brand image of your company. If the role is team-orientated, then a side office near the hustle and bustle of the candidate’s potential workmates can be excellent as they will get a glimpse of the team’s energy. A more formal role will be better suited to a private boardroom, while an interview for a casual and collaborative role may be better conducted in a more open and comfortable space.

Whatever location you deem appropriate, it must be calm and quiet so you can talk easily and confidentially. Keep it clear of clutter, ensure everyone knows not to disturb the interview space, and arrange the chairs appropriately before the first candidate arrives.

Map out interview questions

You should devise a map of questions to guide you through the interview, first ensuring that they are all appropriate and legal. Some questions may branch off into new directions depending on the answers given, but you will always have the map to bring you back on course. Knowing the specific questions, you’ll ask will also give you an idea as to how long the interviews will take.

Your map of questions will be determined by the role you’re hiring for, but will usually begin in earnest with discussing the relevant skills and experience that the candidate has. Try to ask more than one question to evaluate a particular skill to gain additional insight into their capabilities.

From there, you can deploy evaluation questions to gain insight into how the candidate may react in certain situations. If you are hiring for a leadership role, for example, then asking how the candidate would motivate a team to undertake a new project is a good evaluation question. Questions regarding teamwork and communication are useful for evaluating a candidate interviewing for a collaborative role.

Beware generic questions such as ‘What’s your greatest strength/weakness?’ These are easier for candidates to prepare for, and you want them thinking on their feet rather than reciting tried and tested responses.

Know the candidates

Your questions may also be influenced by unique details about each candidate, so study their applications and prior communication before the interviews. Make sure you do not ask questions already answered in the applications. Asking a question that is already answered via the candidate’s application wastes time and makes you appear unprepared or indifferent.

Make notes for each candidate’s application information where you would like them to elaborate, and indentify anything strange or interesting that you would like more information on. Make sure to refresh your memory for each candidate before beginning the interview.

Starting the interview

The beginning of the interview is a crucial moment for the interviewer. Remember that you are being assessed as well, so your approach should match the impression you want the candidate to have of the company on the whole.

With the location arranged, the questions mapped and the candidate information studied, commence the interview with a courteous greeting. To ease a little of that tension candidates feel during interviews, tell them something about your own role within the company and the company itself. You should also explain what the candidate can expect over the course of the interview.

The next step is to outline the role the candidate is interviewing for, adding some more detail not included in the original job posting. Go through the core duties and responsibilities, as well as the general working conditions and basic details such as permanent or temporary, full or part time. This ensures there is no confusion and both interviewer and candidate are on the same page.

Rather than pivot straight from the job details into the questions you’ve mapped out, segue smoothly by first asking a couple of generalised questions about the candidate’s interest in the role and what they think they can contribute. From there you can follow the preset question path.

Ending the interview

Always end the interview by allowing the candidate to ask any questions they might have. You will need to prepare extensively for this too as it will likely require a deep knowledge of the role being hired for as well as the company itself.

The candidate will also need to know what happens next, an approximate timeframe for a decision and how they will be informed.

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