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Interviews are an integral part of a hiring process, allowing you to determine a candidates’ suitability to a role, get to know their personality and find out candidates’ intentions for applying.
However, knowing how to interview someone for a job can be difficult, so we’ve put together our top interviewer tips and interviewing techniques for employers so you can conduct a successful and effective interview – whether virtual or face-to-face!
The importance of interviewing
Job interviews are important for both candidates and employers for a number of reasons, here’s why you should ensure you’re implementing the best interviewing techniques:
Asking the right questions in an interview and implementing good interview techniques allows you to discover if a candidate has the right experience, skill set and personality for your role.
This reduces the risk of hiring candidates who are not suited to your role and company – saving you time and resources on rehiring.
At Give A Grad A Go we have a database of over 250,000 talented graduates, so no matter how niche or specific your role is, our industry expert recruiters will always put forward candidates who are a perfect match to your role and company.
This is just one of the ways we can help you find talent, for more ways check out our recent blog post.
As well as an interview being a great way for employers to discover an ideal candidate for a role, it’s also a useful opportunity for candidates to find out more about a role they’re applying to.
Candidates can discover more aspects of a role such as the company culture, the day-to-day tasks expected of them, salary, benefits and progression opportunities.
Giving them a broader overview of the role and insight into the company - helping them decide if they want to continue with their application.
Interviewing a range of candidates can benefit your company and allow it to develop in unexpected ways
For example, you could interview an exceptional candidate who may not be quite right for the role they have applied for, however, it’s good to consider if they could be a great addition to another team or could they be hired for a completely new role within your company?
Interviewing allows you to discover how a candidates talent could be repurposed elsewhere.
Asking candidates interview questions related to your company such as ‘why do you want to work for us’ and ‘what attracted you to this role?’ is a great way to gain an insight into how candidates view your company.
Moreover, asking ‘what do you think we could improve on as a company?' is another good question to quiz a candidate on, allowing you to see how they handle difficult questions, and gain constructive feedback on how your company could improve.
How to interview someone for a job
Wondering how to interview someone for a job? We’ve put together a how to interview someone for a job checklist and interviewing techniques for interviewers so you can get the most out of your candidates during an interview and easily see who’s the right fit for your company…
Or, if you first need help knowing which roles to hire for your business, visit our employer resource for how to build your hiring plan for the next year. Or, get in touch with our industry expert recruiters for guidance on which roles you should be hiring to effectively grow your business.
1. Decide who will be conducting the interviews
The first important step to conducting a successful job interview is choosing the right people to interview a candidate. You want to select an employee who will be working closely with the potential candidate and any other members of staff who need to meet the candidate before hiring.
For a first round interview, we recommend having an employee or manager who will oversee the potential candidate, along with an employee from your HR department or another department who works closely with recruitment. For a second round interview, it’s useful for a more senior member of staff to meet the candidate such as the CEO or Managing Director.
It’s important to have at least two members of your staff meet potential candidates, as each interviewer’s personality and interview style may help uncover different aspects of a candidate and it's useful to compare opinions to make a more informed decision.
A recent study from The Behavioural Insights Team highlighted how valuable an extra interviewer or two can be in making the best hiring decision, finding three to be the ideal number of interviewers to select the right candidate.
2. Set aside time and organise your schedule
Whilst sounding obvious, it’s important to ensure you set aside enough time for each interview and fit each into your schedule. Having to cancel an interview or leave early looks unprofessional and being conscious of the time during an interview may distract you from what the candidate is saying – meaning you won’t get to effectively assess their fit to the role.
Time and length of an interview vary depending on your company, the position being filled and the person interviewing the applicant. If you’re wondering how long an interview should last, here’s a suggested interview timing structure:
3. Have all the information on a candidate prepared before an interview
Doing your research on a candidate before they arrive is key to a successful interview. Going through a candidate’s application and CV equips you with valuable information ahead of time and allows you to prepare more in-depth and relevant interview questions to ask the candidate.
Having a rough idea of who a candidate is before the interview also helps makes the candidate feel at ease by showing you’ve taken the time to properly review their application.
It’s a good idea to print out the candidate’s CV, cover letter along with any other material they’ve submitted such as a portfolio, so you can easily refer to it during the interview.
Knowing information about a candidate prior to the interview is just one of the important steps for effective hiring, for more ways, visit our blog on how to make the right hire.
4. Know what you’re looking for in a potential employee and have a criteria for each role
One of the most important job interviewing techniques is knowing the exact qualities and requirements you’re looking for in candidates for each role you’re recruiting for.
The manager overseeing the role and the hiring manager should spend some time determining what the ideal candidate is like, from what skills are the most important for the position, to what experience candidates require and what qualities you’re looking for.
Only once you have an idea of the exact type of candidate you're looking for, can you interview effectively and find the right candidate. If you’re hiring for a role and need help writing a job description, visit our blog for how to write a job description that will attract the best graduates.
It’s also beneficial to put together a candidate criteria checklist for each role with a rating scale and comments for each skill/quality/experience candidates need. This can be completed after an interview and is a useful way to see how candidates meet the requirements of a role and how they compare to other candidates interviewing for the same position.
5. Ask candidates the right questions
A major component of a successful job interview is asking the right questions. It’s important that every question you ask has a purpose and helps you get all the information you need to make an informed decision as to whether a candidate is the right fit for the role during the interview.
When interviewing a candidate you need to find out:
Wondering what questions to as a candidate in an interview? We’ve put together some good employee interview questions to ask – visit our blog on employer interview questions to ask candidates for the best general and specific interview questions to ask for a range of roles.
Emotional Intelligence is an important quality for candidates to possess and makes them an excellent fit for a range of roles. Often called EQ, it’s defined as the ability to identify, assess and control the emotions of yourself and others. Here are some great questions to ask to spot emotional intelligence in the people you interview:
RED FLAGS: Look out for any inconsistencies between how a candidate describes themselves and how they appear to you or to others. If a candidate portrays themselves as having fantastic persuasive skills, but talks about having problems bringing colleagues round to their way of thinking, or is struggling to convince you that they are the person for the job, they are probably lacking in the self-awareness department.
RED FLAGS: Speaking badly of former colleagues/bosses is a common interview faux pas and shows a lack ofself-regulation- the candidate isn’t able to monitor their behaviour in front of you, a potential employer. Also keep an eye out for a candidate who alludes to letting their mood negatively affect their work, or appears visibly flustered by your trickier interview questions.
Social skills questions:
RED FLAGS: This is probably one of the easiest of the five EQ traits to identify; you can use the candidate’s behaviour towards yourself as a pretty good yardstick for their social skills. Red flags will probably be pretty obvious, and will include things like misplaced humour or sarcasm, arrogance, speaking too much or too little etc.
RED FLAGS: Watch out for candidates who blame their failures on others. Phrases like ‘there was nothing I could do’ or ‘If Steve had done his task on time, that wouldn’t have happened’ should start ringing the empathy alarm bells; your candidate has struggled to see things from other peoples’ point of view and understand others’ motivations.
RED FLAGS: A lack of interview prep is one of the clearest signs of a candidate who struggles to motivate themselves. Also be on the lookout for those who narrowly miss out on academic grades or work targets, or those who allude to struggling to propel themselves to achieving their goals when talking about their previous work experience.
6. Have an interview structure in place
An important part of conducting a smooth interview is having an effective interview structure in place. If you’re wondering how to structure an interview, we’ve put together an example interview structure:
Whilst sounding obvious, it’s important to introduce the candidate to yourself and the other interviewers in the room. Let each person give a brief introduction about themselves, mentioning their position and role in the company.
It’s also a good idea to let the candidate know how long the interview will last and give a brief overview of the structure.
Next, open the interview by asking the candidate to give a summary of themselves, from their previous positions, where they studied, their experiences etc.
This is a good way to get to know more information about a candidate and get a quick idea of their communication skills and personality.
It’s then important to find out a candidate’s motivations for applying for your role, to see if they are applying for the right reasons and are genuinely interested in the position.
Good motivational interview techniques to ask are questions such as: “why did you apply for this role?”, “what makes you a good fit for this role?” and “what did you like/dislike about your previous position?”.
Standout candidates will express plenty of enthusiasm and may have done prior research on your company before the interview so they can discuss particular aspects of your company that made them want to apply to the role.
To find out if a potential candidate has the right skills for your role, it’s beneficial to ask situational interview questions about a candidate’s previous position.
Asking questions such as “tell me a time where you overcame a difficult situation at work?” gives you an insight into a candidate’s skill set. Make sure to tailor your questions depending on what skills are most important for each role you’re hiring for.
For a placement to be successful, a candidate must fit in with your company culture. Check that the candidate’s values align with your own mission, by asking the candidate questions regarding their preferred working environment.
It’s a good idea to ask a candidate what their salary expectations are for the role and then inform the candidate of the salary range you’ll be offering.
This allows you to see a candidate’s expectations and is also helpful for a candidate to assess if their willing to accept the position based on the salary offer.
After you’ve retrieved all the information you need from a candidate, it's a good idea to then open the conversation up to questions.
This is a useful way to further assess a candidate, as an ideal candidate will ask plenty of questions to find out more about a role and further show their interest.
To conclude the interview, inform the candidate of the next steps of the interview process. Thank the candidate for their time and let them know that they can contact you if they have any further questions after the interview.
7. Make the experience comfortable for the interviewee
Whether a candidate is a great fit for the role or not, it’s important that you make the interview a comfortable experience for them and that they feel at ease throughout.
Not only will this allow a candidate to perform to their best ability during the interview, and you get to see their real potential, but it’s also a great way to create a great impression of a company, which a graduate may go on to tell their connections.
If you’re wondering how to improve the graduate experience during the interview process and create a positive interview experience, we’ve put together some helpful tips on how to do so:
Before you begin your recruitment process, it is important to fully understand your objectives.
Before you begin interviews, revisit this and ensure that you’re clear on the business needs behind why you’re hiring, the responsibilities involved in the role that you’re hiring for, and why you’ve requested specific skills and experience.
As a result, the interview will have direction, and as you present yourself as well prepared, your candidate will feel confident in your recruitment process. This can only reflect positively on you and your organisation.
Be open and be honest
By being clear and honest about what you’re looking for, and by ensuring the graduate has all the necessary information prior to the interview, you’ll see a huge difference in how comfortable the interview process will be for both you and your interviewee.
Be open about the format of the interview and who will be present. This will allow candidates to conduct effective research, whilst calming their nerves.
Know your brand
To effectively convey your brand to the graduate, it is first important that you understand it yourself. Think about the core elements of your brand that could impact on your new hire and present this clearly and confidently.
Consider how your brand values its employees, your organisation’s approach to personal development, and allow your candidate to understand your organisation a little more by ensuring the interview is as insightful and engaging as possible.
Be flexible in your interview approach
Step away from your regimented interview plan and instead, have a two-way conversation with your candidate. This flexible approach to the interview will allow your candidate to talk about their career and what matters to them, whilst bringing shy candidates out of their shell.
By tailoring each interview to the candidate, you will be able to pick up on elements of your organisation that fit well with them, whilst helping them to feel valued.
Do your research before
While it is important to allow your candidate time to effectively research you and your organisation, it is also crucial to do your own research on each of your candidates. By showing your interviewee that you’ve taken the time to read their CV and understand their previous roles and skillset, they will feel instantly valued.
Checking their LinkedIn profile is a great place to start. Here you will find endorsements, skills and details of any further training or volunteer work that may not be included in their CV.
The recruitment agency that you work with during your hiring process will also be able to help you here. They will have already met the graduate and will therefore be able to feed you some further information about their experience and suitability for the role.
Follow-up on the interview
Be sure to follow up on the interview, either with your recruitment agency or the candidate themselves. Always contact unsuccessful candidates and provide feedback on why they didn’t get the job.
Be constructive and helpful and thank them for their time and effort. This will mean a lot to the candidate as they embark on future interviews.
Provide your successful candidate with as much information as possible so that they understand what their first few days will entail and how the process will work.
Be clear about any probation period and what the induction will involve. Your new hire will feel confident on their first day, with a great impression of how your organisation works.
8. Virtual interview tips
Virtual and phone interviews are a great way to quickly and efficiently screen a candidate before inviting them into a face-to-face interview. If you’re unsure how to conduct a virtual interview and wondering how to interview someone over the phone, we’ve put together some useful tips:
There are many options when it comes to choosing a platform to conduct your virtual interview - Microsoft Teams, Skype, Zoom, GoogleMeet each being great platforms, however, what’s most important is spending time getting familiar with your chosen platform’s features.
Carry out a test run with a colleague to get to know the functions. Having technical issues and being unsure how to carry out a technical function won’t help create a professional image of yourself and the company to a candidate.
Make sure that you clearly communicate to a candidate the time and date of the interview, along with the platform the interview will take place on and a link to the virtual meeting with login instructions.
This will help ensure the interview can begin on time and also allows the candidate to feel at ease as they can spend time getting used to the chosen platform.
Whether conducting an interview from home or at an office setting, it’s important to choose a quiet, well lit and professional environment.
Make sure you have a stable internet connection to avoid screen freeze or audio glitches.
Knowing how to interview someone for a job is an essential part of the hiring process, allowing you to confidently hire the right candidates for your company.
Asking the right questions to ask, setting a criteria for each role and having a proper interview structure in place are just some of the ways for a successful job interview. Implement our full 8 step job interview checklist to efficiently use the time you have in an interview and easily highlight which candidates are the right fit for your company and role.