Conducting an Effective Interview

So you have some promising candidates on your shortlist, you have sorted out how much you can afford to pay, what the “add-on” costs are, what equipment you need, potential start dates – could someone start next Monday if they were available to do so? If they give a months’ notice to their existing employer – are you ready for them to start then?

Do you have a training programme in place? A contract, a performance review process, an employee handbook? So now it only remains to carry out your interviews so that you can secure the right person to join you in your business.

The Interview

Prepare a standard list of questions in advance. These questions should be the questions that you ask each candidate after you have talked through their CV and work history. These questions should be designed to establish how well each candidate meets with the requirements of your role.

Review each CV and prepare questions specific to that person. You may want to check and get understanding of gaps in their work history or changes of industry/role type.

Think about the value of conducting a test or assessment to establish skill levels. Rather than simply asking someone how good a salesperson they are- ask them to sell your product to you.   If they are going to be working on detailed spreadsheets and analysing data – give them a task based on that.

Start with a small talk to put them at their ease. You want to get the best out of them so helping them to be a little more relaxed will help the interview flow smoothly. Perhaps you could ask “ How was your journey?” Did you find us OK? What was the traffic like?  Where did you park? The sort of question that will be easy for them to answer and help them to relax.

Tell them what to expect – Let them know that this will be a CV based interview, with you asking questions to help you gain an understanding of their work history and experience and then at the end, they will have the chance to ask any questions they may have.

Explain that if they are successful they will be selected for a second interview and they will know the outcome of this interview within 48 hours. Taking longer than this means that you are likely to miss out on the candidates and also makes decision making more difficult for you. – The longer you leave it the harder it becomes.

Ask open questions to enable and encourage them to answer questions with more detail, rather than just a”.  yes” or “no”  answer – What, How, Who, When, Why questions will give you better answers, with more information to help you make your selection. Do remember to listen carefully to their answers.

It may be useful to ask someone else to sit in on the interviews and take notes so that you can concentrate on engaging with the candidate and looking at them rather than worrying about taking notes and wondering afterwards what you might have missed. It may also be sensible not to be on your own in the room with a candidate.

In our current economic climate, we are in a candidates’ market so it will stand you in good stead to have something to say about the advantages of working for you.

The candidates should be interviewed in an appropriate place – ideally, where they will be working.  If the interview is in your office, make sure that you have someone to answer the phone and cover your work so that you can give them your full attention for the time of the interview. If you have decided to hold the first interview “off-site” make sure that the second interview is in the place they will be working so that they can see the work environment and be able to make an informed decision before committing to the role. I have seen people lose new starters because they claim not to have known what the day to day work environment was like. “I didn’t know the phones were going to be ringing constantly like that” “ I didn’t realise how quiet the office was going to be – it isn’t what I am used to” are both valid reasons that people have given for leaving “new jobs”. I am sure that you would not want to go through this process and be in the situation of “starting over” in 3 months time because you didn’t plan well enough at this stage.


Ask questions like “Are you reliable?” Are you flexible” “ Do you meet your sales targets?” Are you a team player?” “ Do you pick things up quickly?” Do you think they will say NO???

Don’t make snap decisions – just because they made you laugh or went to the same university or play the same sport as you –doesn’t mean they are the best person for the job.

Don’t ask different questions of each candidate – make sure that at the end of the process you have a list of answers to the same set of questions that will enable you to make useful comparisons.

Don’t ask anything potentially l discriminatory like things about children, plans to have children, their relationship status, childcare arrangements or questions of a similar personal nature which will leave you open to claims of discrimination.

Don’t forget to make notes. If anyone makes a claim against you, you will need to have those notes to validate your decision and reasons for selecting the person you did, and more importantly for not choosing the people you reject.

Better People consultants are all experienced recruiters with many years experience, attracting, selecting and interviewing candidates. They are up to date with employment law legislation. Their recruitment support offers a full range of services, including the preparation of interview scripts with clients. Designing and delivery of bespoke job-based assesments.-  Different roles require different skills, attending interviews with clients and note taking, post-interview discussion and coaching and setting up and attending assessment centre style selection days if required.

Better People also offers Talent Dynamics profiling which is particularly valuable to smaller business owners as it enables them to manage the new individual appropriately, finding the right communication style to get the best out of the new hire and to understand the key qualities they have which make them different, to you and how to get the most out of them. Sometimes we can spend time trying to get the person to work like us. If we leave them to work their own way, we can often see qualities and skills emerging that we hadn’t expected as they are not within our own skill set or personal approach.  Understanding your own Talent Dynamics profile, helps you to get into FLOW, the state where you are more creative and productive and get more done in less time. Teams where the boss and the employees all understand each others’ profiles and work to their strengths are more productive, stay longer in their jobs and are more accountable. Ask us about having your profile done.  £245.00 plus VAT.  (Discounts are available for team profiling and debriefing exercises). It takes 15 minutes to complete the online questionnaire and a further hour with Better Peoples’ fully accredited Talent Dynamics Flow consultant.

Better People Ltd has a unique approach to recruitment. We meet you to discuss your needs and then create a bespoke recruitment campaign based on your organisation and the individual role. We pre-screen and interview all candidates before putting them forward, and will only do so if we’re happy they will fit in and stay put. Our approach saves you time and improves retention. Better People – Stay.

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