How to get the most out of a candidate interview

interview candidates

Interviewing, generally speaking, is usually a process that people have quite a bit of hesitation around and can be associated with a combination of both nerves and excitement.

This isn’t just the case for people interviewing for a role, it can also be very applicable to individuals facilitating an interview. This article is aimed at the latter.

How to get the best out of your interview

Having been in the recruitment industry for a number of years now, I have had the opportunity to witness a large variety of interview techniques and processes. Some have been more successful than others and as someone who gets daily feedback from candidates in the interview process, I’m going to share some valuable insights with you on how to get the best out of your candidate interview.

A candidate’s interview experience is critical, particularly if the talent market is in short supply. It gives you, as the employer, the opportunity to not only assess a candidate’s suitability, skills and experience but also ensure that you are engaging them, providing them with accurate information and representing your company brand.

Let’s go through a few scenarios together which are drawn on real examples and feedback that I have received.

First impressions do count!

First and foremost, we are all people at the end of the day. When interviewing a new candidate, this is their first experience with you and first impressions do count – on both ends!

During the interview, you want to get the best out of the candidate you are meeting with, both from a team culture perspective as well as skills and experience. To achieve that, I find the best approach is to start the conversation with a focus on rapport building. This will ensure the candidate is comfortable right from the get-go and will set a positive tone and flow for the rest of the interview.

Try to avoid drilling an individual with hardcore questions right away, interviewing is nerve-wracking enough already so let’s focus on setting up an engaging and positive interview environment.

Plan the interview

It’s also imperative to set a plan for your interview. Having too many people facilitating one interview can be both confusing for the candidate and add unnecessary pressure.

Think about who should sit on the interview panel for each interview in the process and if they can really add value to the conversation. Try to keep this consistent across all of your interviews so you then have the ability to compare candidates’ suitability fairly moving forward.

Another great tip is to designate a decision-maker, even if there are several people involved in the interview process. Having too many chefs in the kitchen can not only confuse the candidate, but also make it challenging for you to get a consensus. This will avoid the challenge of attempting to align conflicting views and just make the process much more seamless.

Further to planning your interview strategy, it’s also incredibly beneficial to give your candidate insight into your interview process. How many interviews will you be conducting etc? This will allow them to prepare accordingly, manage expectations and give them the opportunity to plan.

Everybody’s time is valuable.

The Candidate is part of the process

I always find the more information the candidate has, the better.

This includes a good understanding of the role they are interviewing for, who they will be meeting with, what to expect of the interview etc. It’s also beneficial to share aspects such as the team structure, career development and what you can offer them as a company as well.

Encourage and give the candidate the opportunity to ask as many questions as they need to. Interviewing is a two-way street, and it shows that you value their interest and input.

Give them a chance to impress you face to face

Another common obstacle I see regularly is pre-interview testing. This is quite challenging as expecting a candidate to complete an automated online test can be quite a big ask for the first step in the process.

The candidate has not yet had the opportunity to meet you, learn about the company or the position. This step is far more effective after the first interview once the candidate knows that they are also keen and interested in the opportunity. You want to get them invested in you and your company before putting them through an emotionless online testing scenario.

Don’t forget to give feedback!

Unfortunately, the number one most common and consistent piece of feedback I get from candidates every day is that after the interview, they hardly receive feedback from the employer.

Taking the time to provide constructive interview feedback, even if the candidate has been unsuccessful on this occasion, is absolutely paramount. Make an effort to provide timely and helpful feedback to the candidate after the interview, either directly or via your recruiter.

Remember, if a candidate is interviewing with you, more often than not, they are also interviewing with other companies as well. It’s so important to give a candidate feedback as you may lose them to an employer that has moved quicker than you and kept them immersed in their process.

In summary, keep your candidate engaged, set a plan and structure for the interview process, assign a decision maker, be open with information and provide feedback in a timely manner.

Happy interviewing!


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