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Interview preparation

Whether you view interviewing as a necessary evil or a refreshing change from day to day work, the reality is that few of those involved in recruitment decisions are trained interviewers. Self evidently however their role is crucial in attracting candidates to their organisation and ensuring that they have the skill sets, personal qualities and experience to undertake the role for which they are being assessed.

A company’s interview process should be constructed to fulfil the following criteria:

  • A maximum of three stages, which will include meeting all relevant decision makers.
  • Evaluation of career history including promotions, reporting lines, reasons for job moves.
  • Evaluation of skills and experience as required by the role.
  • Assessment of personal qualities and personality characteristics with reference to the role and company in question.
  • Briefing/Selling the candidates on the role and company.
  • Allowing candidates to ask questions and evaluate their own comfort with the company, role and people.
  • Completed within a reasonable time scale: not too hasty, not too slow.

It will be clear that preparation will therefore require agreement on: what qualities are being sought? How are they going to be measured and at what stage in the process? What are the employer’s selling points and how do they ensure that the candidate is made aware of these from an early stage of the recruitment process? Who needs to be involved in the process and why?

Of the above the most important in terms of interview preparation and management is deciding the candidate profile and being clear that all the criteria specified are genuinely relevant pre-requisites for success in the role. Evaluation of the candidate can be either by a traditional experience related interview, or more sophisticated competency based techniques, perhaps supplemented by formal or informal presentations. The key point is that the choice of format must be directly relevant to the role i.e. no point in asking someone to do a presentation if it’s not likely they will be doing so in the job. Psychometrics and aptitude tests are not infrequently included in the selection process without any clear reason or logic!

While the nature of the interview itself will depend on the stage of the process and the role of the interviewer, the following checklist may help:

  • Am I clear what my role is in this interview and what the next step is in the process?
  • Do I have a copy of the CV (and covering letter if relevant?)
  • Allow at least 10 minutes to thoroughly read the CV and note points which require discussion (with reference to any previous interview notes if relevant)
  • If it is not the first interview, check well in advance (i.e. not 15 minutes before) for notes from previous interviews and/or speak to previous interviewers.
  • If it is the final stage, ensure that all relevant information has been gleaned from the candidate.