Job interview techniques: which should I use?

If you've needed to recruit new staff over the last couple of years, you may have been inundated with countless applicants. Of course, there will be an amount of applicants that are simply not suitable for the position but, equally, there may be a sizeable proportion of candidates who could be ideal. An enviable position some might say, but what happens when there is nothing obvious to differentiate one from the other? And how can you avoid making costly mistakes?

It all comes down to the interview process. Interviews need to go beyond discussion of a candidate's experience, skills and whether they think they'll be suitable for the job. It's important to fully evaluate a candidate and to explore their potential to fit within the team and organisation. Getting the basics right and giving sufficient time to planning and preparation will go a long way towards ensuring your interview procedure is robust and fit for purpose. Make sure you establish clear criteria against which candidates can be assessed, along with a weighted scoring system. Plan your questions so that they will draw out the skills and experience of each candidate, and be consistent in your questioning from one candidate to another. Open questions that can't be answered with a simple 'yes' or 'no' will give you much more information about the interviewee.

Is face to face best?

Early stage interviews don't necessarily need to be conducted face to face. Phone, video conferencing and online interviews are all acceptable forms of interview. Phone interviews, particularly when recruiting for sales or customer facing positions, can be very useful in assessing the all-important phone manner, and can go some way to filtering out unsuitable candidates. After all, a phone call may be the first point of contact with prospective customers, so you'll want someone with a friendly and professional manner.

That said, you also need to observe a candidate's body language, which is another way of assessing enthusiasm and interest in the job, whether they are uncomfortable with particular questions and so on. The image a candidate conveys is also important - are they appropriately dressed, are they attentive, do they listen well, are they articulate?

A face-to-face interview should involve at least two interviewers, one of whom should be the direct line manager for the position, so that you get a balanced view. You could conduct a panel interview comprising 3-6 interviewers, involving key decision makers or those who are looking for specific technical knowledge. Alternatively, you could set up a series of individual interviews, where candidates meet with each individual interviewer.

What about competency-based interviews?

Competency-based interviews are designed to find out about a candidate's character, their personal attributes and soft skills. As well as finding out about specific skills, experience and education, a competency-based interview will identify whether a candidate will fit in to your company's culture. Questions are designed to collect evidence of how a candidate acts in real situations, and hypothetical situations might also be presented to test the candidate's reaction and approach to a problem. Asking a candidate to respond to a scenario that is relevant to your company will help predict their likely performance in the organisation, as well as helping you to evaluate their potential effectiveness in the role.

Is testing the only accurate way to assess suitability?

Psychometric testing is one of the most popular methods used to assess candidates' suitability for a job. Tests cover ability, aptitude, personality and motivation, so it's important to establish exactly what traits you are looking for from the outset. Ability and aptitude tests, often in the form of multiple-choice questions, are designed to assess specific skills, problem-solving abilities and logic. Motivation and personality tests look to identify what drives a candidate as a person and how that filters into their working life. There are no right or wrong answers, since everyone is different, but motivation and personality testing will give an indication of whether a candidate will fit into a company's way of thinking.

Psychometric testing is invaluable for shortlisting candidates. The results may well indicate that one or two candidates above any others possess all the qualities you might want – self-motivated, resilient, assertive, persuasive, personable. But don't forget that it is only through a face-to-face interview that you will be able to make the ultimate decision of which candidate will be right for your business.

Want some help with conducting your interviews?

On Target Recruitment can get everything set up for you, from organising a suitable interview schedule and providing free use of our interview facilities to setting up tailored psychometric tests.

Steve Oldroyd, Managing Director of On Target Recruitment, says 'Given the in-depth training that our consultants receive, their ability to pre-select a shortlist on a client's behalf and our unique Expert Pre-Selection Guaranteed commitment, is hard to beat. We are committed to making the interview process as easy as possible for our clients – and, naturally, our goal is the successful selection of a suitable candidate.'

Call us on 020 8397 4114 or email us to find out more.

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