We are all familiar with the adage “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”. This really cannot be truer than in the interviewing and recruitment process, writes Margaret Keane.
Don’t fail to plan
Plan for success by adopting a well thought out plan. Consider the following:
- Produce all relevant information before starting the recruitment process, including job descriptions, person specifications, interview questions and score sheets
- Use telephone screening
- Interview targeted candidates face-to-face using relevant questions, and carry out any testing required
- Carry out second interviews and any further testing required
- Communicate the process for interviews, documentation and the feedback process to all involved
- Shortly before the interviews, re-read the job description and familiarise yourself with each candidate’s CV. Also, double-check the availability of the room and any equipment required, and make sure that it is in working order
- All interviewers should make sure they are familiar with information about the company, the specific position, salary and company benefits, etc., to share with candidates
Don’t create a bad impression
It’s a buyers’ market out there and you need to attract the right talent to your organisation rather than lose it to your competitors. Get the basics right and remember you are there to sell your organisation to the candidates as well as assess them – it is a two-way process.
- Enthuse the candidate about your organisation. Highlight the key attractions of both the role and the organisation
- Ensure you do not keep the candidate waiting. This is a real ‘no’ and creates a bad impression. Plan enough time between interviews
- Ensure you are not interrupted during the interview process. Interruptions imply to the candidate that they are not that important
- Make sure you are thoroughly prepared (see the “don’t plan to fail list” above)
Don’t ask illegal questions
It is essential to ensure that everyone in the interviewing process knows that there are certain things that cannot be discussed in the process because they would be seen as being discriminatory.
No reference can be made to age, marriage/civil partnership or other relationships, having children now or in the future, disability, race, religion, sex, sexuality or being transsexual.
The following are examples of questions that must never be asked:
- How old are you? or questions to ascertain this information.
- Are you married?
- Are you gay?
- Do you have/plan on having children?
- Who will take care of your children while you’re at work?
- What is your religion?
- Do you have any disabilities?
- How is your health?
- How tall are you? How much do you weigh?
- Have you ever been arrested?
Don’t ask irrelevant questions
Ensure all questions are relevant and specific to the role you’re recruiting for. Make sure that they will provide evidence of whether the candidate has the skills and experience for your role. Ensure that the same questions are asked to each candidate for the position under consideration. This will mean that you can compare candidates more easily, and that you are treating everyone fairly and therefore not discriminating.
Don’t carry out the process alone if possible
This may be tricky in a very small organisation; however, you must try to get the opinion of others involved in the interview process. If you have an HR department, it is not the role of HR to interview and make decisions for hiring alone.
At all times the line manager must be making the decision as they must buy into the candidate. If a number of people are involved in the interviewing, ensure each has a separate set of questions to ask so that you can maximise the responses, enabling the best decision on the individual to be made.
Don’t let the quality of your paperwork let you down
You have prepared well for the interview and have the necessary paperwork covering job descriptions, person specifications, interview questions and score sheets. These all take time to develop for your business and represent an asset to the process. It may be tempting to copy these from examples you have previously come across. Although this may provide some good initial starting points, it will not be wholly relevant to your business. So it pays to invest the time in getting the paperwork right so that it is useful and provides a means to an end. You should then end up with the candidate who best meets the key requirements of the role and not just the one who is best at “doing interviews”.
Don’t just rely on an interview alone to choose the best candidate
Make the process as comprehensive as possible while being appropriate to the level you are recruiting for. As well as the main interview, include any tests that are relevant. These may be personality type tests or ability type tests such as typing tests, answering a complaint letter, role plays, etc. A chef could be asked to cook a dish, a teacher to run a lesson, etc. For a more senior role, an assessment centre that incorporates personality, ability and task testing is a good way to interview.
Don’t go looking for a clone of yourself or your team members
If you just look for someone who has the same traits as yourself or your team, this may not be the best person for the job. Someone with complementary skills will offer more to the wider team and may be the best solution. In addition, while a cultural fit is important to make sure they don’t cause problems in the team, it is important not to just pick those you “like” best. As long as they have the skills and the experience, a different type of personality may be good for business.
Don’t totally rely on gut feeling, it will always play a part but should be backed up with evidence
Gut feeling alone is not enough – it does not show the candidates’ true personality or their ability to perform in the job. The traditional horns (negative) and halo (positive) effect should not be relied upon. This is where just one aspect of the individual is used to shape an opinion or assumption, which is just that, and not founded on truth or reality.
Don’t forget to ask for and give feedback
At the end of the interview ask the candidate if they are still interested and judge their level of enthusiasm. If it is weak or they say “no” or “maybe” you know you need not waste further time taking things forward. Manage candidate’s expectations by outlining what happens after the first interview and what the process and next steps will be. Be prepared to share feedback from the interview with unsuccessful candidates. Not only is this useful for the individual but it also helps to give your organisation a positive reputation.
Don’t waste time at the interview
Make the most of every minute. For example, if salary is not stated in the advert then pre-screening on the telephone can help ascertain whether their expectations match your package. This can also be used to check whether you want to invest the time in seeing them in person. Send candidates company information, job descriptions, etc., before the interview so that time is not wasted discussing these areas in detail at the interview, allowing more informed questions to be asked and relevant feedback to be obtained instead.
Missed Margaret’s previous article? Read on to find out everything you need to know about probationary periods as a small employer.
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