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How to conduct the perfect interview

Interviews can be nerve-wracking for Candidates – but often, they’re not the only ones who feel anxious beforehand. Finding the right applicant is incredibly important for Employers to get right, and as a result, the process can be stressful for hiring managers too.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. With a little bit of practice, conducting a great interview is perfectly possible. Here are just a few things to consider:

Know exactly what you’re looking for 

One of the first things you need to do as you prepare for an interview is to look back at your job description and create a list of requirements for your successful applicant. This will help you to structure the questions you ask, making sure that interviewees have all the necessary skills and qualities. Once you have this, take time to re-examine everyone’s CV before you meet them. Whether there’s a particular success they’ve mentioned or something that raises a red flag, pinpoint areas where you’d like to know more about that person.

When you’re making an important judgement on a potential Employee, you should try to be as methodical as possible. Interview days can be extremely busy, but if you know what you’re looking for beforehand, you’re less likely to be swayed by circumstances on the day and making a decision will be relatively straight-forward. 

Test Candidates in a range of different ways

If you want to test Candidates thoroughly, you should avoid generic questions. Don’t ask about a person’s strengths and weaknesses, instead ask them about difficult decisions they’ve made, how they handle criticism and what they do when someone on their team isn’t pulling their weight. Prepare a range of questions which gets to the bottom of who they are as a person, what they’re like at work, and how they hope to develop their career. 

Create interview tests which are appropriate to the situation, giving Candidates the opportunity to show off their skills under pressure. For example, if you’re looking for a marketing manager, set a task which shows that they’re able to plan an original, creative and strategy-led publicity campaign. 

Finally, don’t be afraid of letting people talk to existing staff before they’re hired. Give them the opportunity to meet the team to see how they interact with people in an informal, unplanned situation. 

Make people feel welcome

When you have a nervous Candidate, your aim should be to help them relax so they can perform their best. With this in mind, choose a comfortable environment for their interview, a place which is calm and quiet away from the usual busyness of the office. Set people at ease by offering a drink and taking the time to introduce yourself, which is a good way of allowing applicants to settle in. Above all, be enthusiastic about their skills and experiences. 

If you demonstrate an interest in the Candidates you’ve selected, they’ll feel confident enough to open up in conversation. And although it’s important to keep to time in interviews as much as possible, try not to clock-watch. Take the opportunity to really listen to people, responding with further questions where necessary. 

Remember that this is a two-way conversation and decision, so you need to sell the opportunity, as well as to make sure they have an accurate picture of what the job entails before they leave the room. 

Invest time in the process

Yes, interviewing takes you out of your normal daily schedule, but if you really want to find the right employee, you’ll need to put aside time for this and be truly present. Try to clear an hour or so in your diary either side of an interview so that you’re not rushing from one thing to another. Scheduling these in the morning will give you a chance to meet Candidates before other day-to-day tasks take over. 

To conduct the best interview possible, be committed to improving your approach. Seek advice from others within your team, attend training if necessary and ask for feedback from applicants. Always communicate with Candidates throughout the interview process, giving them a good idea of what to expect, as well as how long they’ll need to wait before receiving a decision. If you do this, you’ll keep people engaged and avoid a situation where you lose a talented recruit before you’ve even had the chance to make an offer. 

Over the last 20 years, we have grown as a business to become one of the leading independent Recruitment agencies in Oxfordshire, and in 2018 we opened our first London office, to service Clients and Candidates in the capital.

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