Posted by Robert Half on 21 June 2013
Preparing for a job interview takes a significant investment of time and energy because you want to make sure the new addition is going to integrate smoothly with your team.
On paper, an applicant may seem ideal, but unless you’re disciplined and vigilant, the wrong person who has all the right answers may impress you. To make the most of the job interview, follow these steps.
Preparing for a job interview
Develop an approach you will use with all candidates. Rank the key factors required for the job in order of importance. Again, let the job description you created be your guide.
Ask the right questions
Prepare a list of specific questions that will allow you to explore each applicant’s problem-solving abilities, interpersonal skills and business acumen. And vary the style of your questions, such as asking closed-ended, factual ones like, “How many years did you work for firm A?”; open-ended questions like, “Can you describe your major accomplishments at firm A?”; and hypothetical, job-related scenarios like, “How would you handle a situation in which ...?”. These will help to assess the person’s work style and compatibility with your company’s culture.
Fight the urge to formulate your next question while the applicant is still responding to the last one. Listen attentively to avoid missing important pieces of information.
Rephrase questions to get complete answers
If an applicant’s response to your question is vague or insufficient, don’t be afraid to ask it in a different way, for example, rephrase, “Why did you leave your previous position?” to “What types of opportunities are you looking for that your last job didn’t provide?”
Don’t rush into a judgment
Try to avoid forming an opinion about an applicant too quickly. Wait until after the interview to evaluate the responses and make interpretations.
Your memory can play tricks on you, leading you to ignore what actually happened during an interview and rely instead on general impressions. Taking notes helps to avoid this common pitfall. Just make sure you do so unobtrusively so that the interviewees don’t feel like they have to pause for you to keep pace.
End on a positive note
Once you feel you have enough information and you’ve made a pitch for what your organisation has to offer, end the interview politely. Thank the applicant for his or her time and interest, and briefly mention subsequent steps (e.g., “We’ll begin the second round of interviews next week”.)
Tips for video interviews
Interviewing job seekers using applications like Skype is growing in popularity. Follow these tips when meeting individuals who are in different locations.
- Take a trial run: If you’re not familiar with the conferencing technology, plan a practice run for a video interview so you can troubleshoot issues.
- Pay attention: Limit distracting background noises. If you’re joining the meeting from your office, direct all incoming calls to your voice mail.
- Treat it as a real interview: Dress appropriately and ensure everything within view is professional.
Key interview questions
- What do you know about our company, and why do you want to work here?
- What were your most significant contributions or accomplishments
in your previous position?
- What would you have changed about your last job and why?
- What type of work environment is least appealing to you?
- Can you provide an example of how you handled a workplace conflict?
Now you know which steps to take, it’s up to you to secure the deal and bring a new star candidate on board.