What makes for a good interview?

employer, Interview

What makes for a good interview?

A good or successful interview begins long before the actual interview. This may seem odd; after all, how can the time before an interview bode for a favourable interview? You have not met the candidate yet. Sure, that would be true, but it is in the planning and pre-interview screening where you can start to predict and almost visualise the type of interview you want.

To be clear, a good interview does not mean you may find that perfect candidate. It merely means that you have made the most out of your time spent with the candidate. The interview is not just where you will get to know your candidates better, but also where you will learn.

The Pre-interview Screening

Besides that the pre-interview screening period allows you to sift through all the candidates and decide which suits the position best; this time is where you get to know your ideal candidates better. Now, there are the obvious areas to check on: experience, employment history, and education, but do not forget about these aspects:

  • Their social standing in the community;
  • The type of social posts and the way they conduct themselves online;
  • Are they on LinkedIn, and are they active? What kind of posts do they put out to the public, who do they follow, and how do they socialise and contribute?
  • Do they belong to any organisations or networks, and can you find out anything about their activities there?
  • Have they appeared on any media platforms, and can you gauge their attitude and personality at all from these?
  • Do they appear to fit the culture of the company?

This does feel like stalking, but it makes sense to utilise our digital age to find out as much as you can about a potential employee.

Those minutes before the Interview

When the candidate arrives at your office, assuming this is not a virtual interview, have your receptionist suss them out a little whilst they wait. Are they sitting on their phone the entire time, or have they taken this opportunity to either read perhaps a brochure of your company from the reception area or have they asked the receptionist about the company, engaging them and showing interest?

The Actual Interview

The interview can be equated to an interrogation, and in some ways, it is. However, it is essential to start off the interview on a good note. You want to, much like you would at a new business meeting or may I say even a first date, help the other person feel comfortable.  Small talk, even if about the weather, is a good start.  Perhaps ask them if they managed to find the building fine, how they got there, where they live, have they had a good week so far.  They will be nervous, and rather than letting their nerves get the better of them, assist them in calming down and relaxing.

Dress-Sense Much?

Take note of what they are wearing but without making it obvious. Are they appropriately dressed? Have they taken the time and care to present themselves well for the interview. (this applies to a virtual interview too). This is important in more ways than one.  Someone who has thought about what would be best to wear for an interview is someone who will think ahead with future endeavours.

Questions Questions

When it comes to the interview questions, yes, prepare them ahead of time, some standard, but also others specific to that candidate. You would have been able to come up with these specific questions based on what you found out from your pre-interview screening time. The interview questions should not be blasted at your candidate but rather dropped in as you make conversation. To save on time, avoid asking obvious questions, pretty much anything you can read on their CV.

Not only are your interview questions important, but also the questions your candidate asks you.  Do they show interest in your company? Do they want to know more about the position? And, do they speak as if they were already working there? – this bodes well as it shows that they are interested and can visualise themselves there.

Mums the word

So much can be gleaned from those silent moments, which, to some, will come across as awkward but, if managed well, can speak volumes. Does your candidate feel they need to fill that silence with idle chit-chat, or do they ask questions, or are they happy to wait for you to take the lead and start the conversation again? This can give you some insight into how they manage other similar situations in life and work.

 A Cultural Fit

You want a  candidate that fits with your company culture.  Although it can be tough to gauge that in just a quick interview, hopefully, you have seen something in them from your pre-screening time (aka stalking). Do they have the same values as your company?  – a few tactful questions can bring that to the forefront.  Ask about their work ethic and not by simply a direct question but give them scenarios – their answer can help you understand how they would handle future situations. Consider behavioural questions –  there are two kinds of behavioural questions you can ask: – self-appraisal and situational questions. Behavioural questions ensure spontaneity as candidates cannot rehearse these, and these can provide a base for later referencing.

In ending, the interview is not the be-all and end-all, but it can make a real difference in finding that ideal candidate – and know that practice does make perfect – you will eventually build and cultivate your own style of interviewing.

Anthony Kettle is the co-owner of West Coast Personnel, a successful recruitment agency that has been around for going on 21 years in the Table View, Western Cape area.  Anthony specialises predominantly in the engineering and manufacturing space; however, he has a wealth of knowledge to impart on all aspects of recruitment.  He has recently published his books, The Job Seeker’s Handbook and The Recruiter’s Handbook, available on Amazon as eBooks.

You can connect with Anthony via email, web, or social platforms – FacebookInstagramTwitterLinkedIn 

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