What is a job interview and why is it important?
An interview is a formal conversation that occurs between a potential employer or their representative and a candidate looking for a job. It’s one of the most important steps during the recruitment process since it presents an opportunity for both parties involved to interact. An interview has benefits to both employers and each candidate.
As an employer, the following are the benefits you can expect from an interview:
Get more information about a candidate
An interview gives you adequate time to collect as much information as you can about a candidate. You can ask them questions about their background, work experience and educational background. You will also gauge their intelligence, personality type, social behaviour, interests and communication skills.
Helps to fill the information gaps from the job application
In some cases, limitations can make a candidate unable to offer their full information in the CV and cover letter. You can collect all such relevant details when you meet them personally. Therefore, an interview is important for you to verify more complete details of the candidates.
Select an appropriate candidate
Personal interaction between you and the candidate can help you determine if they are the appropriate person for the job. The interaction allows you to ask them questions and judge them on a real-time basis to learn more about their suitability for the position.
Allows for the collection of useful information
There are many things a candidate can discuss themselves during a job interview, ranging from past work experience to research tasks and achievements. This additional information can provide insights into the suitability of a candidate.
Can increase goodwill
You can use an interview as a public relations tool. This means treating candidates with respect and dignity while conducting each interview in a friendly and welcoming setting. This leaves the candidates with a good impression of your company and increases your chances of attracting top talent in the future.
How to prepare for an interview
Appropriate preparation will help you conduct a job interview methodically. Follow these steps to prepare for an interview:
1. Set sufficient time aside
Set aside a specific time to conduct the interview. Set up a convenient location with everything you need where you can expect zero interruptions, whether by email, phone or other employees. This will enhance your concentration, while also leaving your candidates with a great first impression of your company.
2. Write a great job description
Preparing a specific outline of the day-to-day duties of a potential employee makes it easy to assess each candidate. Find out what the candidates must have and what would make them be a cut above other candidates. Also, identify any skill gaps that you can amend with training.
3. Read candidate CVs carefully
It’s important to have studied the CVs of all your candidates beforehand. This lets you know about their details in advance, although you will benefit from having a copy of the resume during the interview for reference. Having studied it before will give you adequate time to dig deeper into the candidates’ skills, qualifications and experience.
4. Identify the qualities you want in a candidate
A CV can only show you so much about a candidate. Therefore, identify the qualities you need, the things you can tolerate and those that you cannot. Having identified such things beforehand will allow you to verify them during the interview.
5. Write several specific questions
Having a set of questions each candidate will answer helps to assess and compare certain aspects of their skills and qualities. Use your questions to guide the session but also know when to go off-script for unplanned questions that allow you to probe specific points about a candidate.
How to conduct a job interview
Follow these steps to make the interview process as productive as possible:
1. Introduce yourself
This helps to show respect and also eases any tension the candidate may have. Tell them something about the organisation. Use this opportunity to ensure that you give a great first impression by having a tidy interview room and are otherwise prepared.
2. Set the stage
Take charge of the interview by telling the candidate your expectations for the interview. Remember that the candidate watches and follows your lead, hence you can use your body language and linguistic tone to establish your expectations. The interview should reflect the image and values of your company.
3. Review the job description
Discuss the job description and explore some of the details of what the position entails. Also review whether the role is permanent, temporary or contractual to let the candidate decide whether they fit well into the position and its working conditions.
4. Start by asking general questions
Ask the candidate about their background and why the position interests them. Ask them to talk about how their qualities relate to the job and the contribution they plan to bring to the position.
5. Review the candidate’s CV
It’s important to refer to several positions on the candidate’s CV that are relevant to the job. Seek to establish the various strengths in prior roles, their achievements and difficulties they had. Ask the candidate about any employment or education gaps and th reasons for leaving their current or past job.
6. Focus your questions on the job
Ensure that your questions expose the specific skills and qualifications a candidate has that apply to the position at hand. Keep in mind that open-ended questions are favourable because they allow candidates to explore their strengths and qualifications while also sharing insight about their communication style.
7. Offer each candidate a chance to ask their own questions
The chance to ask questions allows a candidate to figure out whether the company and job are a great ideal for them. Their questions can also help you assess the preparation they have had for the job and if their interest in the job is genuine.
7. Follow a timeline for the recruitment process
Let candidates know when they can expect to hear back from you about whether they were successful or not. This gives candidates a time frame to expect to hear back so that they aren’t left anxiously waiting to know whether they got the job.