Guide to interviewing

Our Xpert’s guide to interviewing

It is important as a hiring manager or HR professional to give a good first impression to the candidate. When a candidate arrives for an interview, you are potentially the first person from the organisation they meet. The candidate is there because you have seen potential in them, so you need to ensure that the candidate is also keen on working for your company and you.

There are four common mistakes that hiring managers and HR make when interviewing a candidate.

Lack of Preparation

Ensure you are prepared for the interview. You have your questions, you understand the background of the candidate and you understand their achievements, career history and skills.

Administration not in order

Ensure you have all the paperwork needed, a copy of the candidate’s application / CV and a room booked and set up to conduct the interview in.

No explanation of the format of the interview

It is important to explain how the interview will be conducted, this will help relax the candidate’s nerves and set the structure of the interview. It is good practice to outline how long the interview is predicted to last. If there are any tests within the interview, give the candidate prior warning.

Unfocused questions

Have a clear set of questions you will ask during the interview, this will give the interview structure and focus. Having set topics you want to explore will stop the interview deviating from the required discussions and will help with reign in talkative candidates.

Question Styles

There are different question styles you can use during an interview and each style provokes a different response from the candidate. Everyone has their own interview style, but it can be useful to use a range of questions.

Closed Questions

Not commonly used in an interview, these provoke a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response and do not allow the candidate to expand on their answer naturally. Closed questions can be useful when asking for fact based answers, for example, how many years team leading experience do you have?

Probing / Open Ended Questions

Commonly used within interviews, probing questions get your candidate talking. Open-ended questions allow your candidate to give their opinion and provide further information on their experiences and skills. Probing questions provide a richer interview experience and allow the hiring manager to get an insight into the candidate’s values, opinions and future aspirations.

Leading Questions

There is a differencing of opinion on using leading questions. Your candidate is there to please, so will answer what they think you want to hear. However, if your candidate has little employment history, leading questions can help the candidate talk about the skills they do have in more detail. For example, you could state, “you have a lot of experience in face to face sales don’t you?” and the candidate will answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’. This leads the conversation onwards.

Competency based interviews

If you are conducting a competency based interview it is important to use a question style that allows your candidate to further explain their answers and give examples of how they have  demonstrated a desired skill. Competency based interviews are common within recruitment and many candidates will naturally give examples of how they have demonstrated a skill within a previous employment.

But what if the interview is not going well, how do you deal with a difficult candidate?

Candidate Types

There are different types of a difficult candidate that hiring manager’s experience in an interview. Here is a list of the most common and how to deal with the situation.

The Quiet Candidate

Conducting an interview with a quiet or shy candidate can be difficult, as it becomes increasingly hard to keep the 80/20 contribution split. A good way to get a candidate talking is asking ice-breaking questions and invite them to give their experiences that relate to the role. The candidate might be quiet due to nerves or may feel uncomfortable with the interview format. It is important that you can change you interview style if needed to help the candidate relax.

The Suspicious candidate

A candidate who appears suspicious will ask a lot of questions about the role, the interview and the company. This can be time consuming, so it is important to explain clearly the format of the interview and identify any areas of questioning in advance so you can incorporate these into the interview.

The Overly Talkative candidate

A candidate that likes to talk can be difficult to reign in. If a candidate goes off on a tangent, you can gain control of the situation by asking questions that subtly close down their response. Phrases like, ‘can you briefly explain…’ will imply a shorter answer is required. If this does not work, try asking for a summary of experience or ask closed questions.

The Assertive candidate

The candidate that is full of self-confidence will try and gain control of the interview and give the appearance that they would easily be able to manage the role they are applying for plus more. It is important as the interviewer that you re-gain control. You can do this by introducing new question topics, as well as raising the level of questioning, making the candidate think more about their response.

Whatever style of interview you deliver or the type of candidate you have, it is important to have the ability to change your style and format, so that you and the candidate have a good interview experience.