It is not only a potential employee which needs to do his/her homework in order to perform successfully at a job interview. For business owners to conduct a thorough and effective hunt for a new employee, they too must be fully prepared for the interview process.
An interview is a face-to-face meeting between one or more representatives of an organisation and a potential employee. It is a chance for the interviewer(s) to gather information about the candidate and for the candidate to learn more about the organisation.
The interviewer’s aim is to determine whether there is a “fit” between the candidate and the job.
Planning your interview: Your interview should be planned to ensure that all “housekeeping” matters are considered, you have listed the questions you need to ask, the interview has a logical development and that all applicants are treated fairly.
Sample interview questions:
What responsibilities did you have in your last position?
What is it about this position that interests you?
What duties do you most enjoy doing? What personal qualities can you bring to this position?
What do you consider your strongest skills?
What skills would you like to have that you don’t have now?
Tell us about the most challenging project you have worked on.
How do you see yourself fitting into this position?
Were you satisfied in your last position? Why?
What kind of people do you like to work with?
What weaknesses do you have which may affect your performance? How will you manage these?
What are your career aspirations? What are your salary expectations?
Conducting the interview
Questions about the following matters are not suitable. They are in breach of an applicant’s privacy and could be considered discriminatory.
Marital status, height and weight
Partner’s name, age, occupation, gender and attitude to the applicant working
Name, age or occupation of parents or next of kin
Number, age of children or other dependants. Or whether applicant is planning to have children
Child care arrangements
Religion/religious beliefs (unless religious compatibility is a criterion, e.g. for work in a religious institution)
Nationality, war service, criminal convictions or imprisonment (unless it is relevant to the job they would be doing).
Whether the applicant has ever been dismissed or if they own their own home.
A job interview should include the following essential stages:
Opening – establish rapport with the applicant, outline the purpose and structure of the interview and encourage the applicant to relax
Body of the interview – the main, fact-finding part of the interview. Discuss fully the details of the position and the applicant’s background. Allow the applicant to talk freely about all relevant matters, while ensuring that all important points are covered.
Closure – let the applicant know that the interview has finished, ask if he or she has any further questions and explain the next steps (e.g. second interviews, notification by phone etc.).
Selecting applicants: It is important to review applications against your job criteria. Remember the number of applicants selected for interview depends on the quality of responses.
When it comes to interviews, do not waste your time, or the applicant’s time, on obviously unsuitable applications.
In the interest of maintaining rapport, the interview should begin with easy questions and gradually build up to more difficult or searching ones. Hard questions asked early may break down the interview relationship.
You should also remember the importance of listening, which allows for careful evaluation of words.
Taking notes: This will help you recall aspects of an interview, particularly if there is a large number of applications. Some notes must be taken during the interview, while final details and impressions should be recorded as soon as the interview is finished and you have shown the applicant out of the office.
References: The purpose of checking a reference is to obtain, in confidence, factual information about the history of an applicant, as well as opinions regarding character, quality of work and suitability for the new position.
The most common method used to contact previous organisations is by telephone. This method is usually quickest, and organisations appear to feel that they receive more “honest” information this way, as referees do not have to commit themselves to print.
Inform unsuitable applicants as soon as possible and thank them for their interest. This is a basic courtesy that is often overlooked. Give feedback where possible – it will promote a good image of your organisation.
If there’s a chance you will contact a particular applicant for a second round of interviews, wait until after you have made a selection before notifying whether he or she has been unsuccessful.