Six Quick Ways to Improve your Interview Style

Candidate Interview‘Who here has had formal training on how to interview?’ 

A simple question, but one that left an entire group of recruitment professionals sat in silence with arms awkwardly pinned by their sides. In actual fact, only a small percentage of all those who interview as part of their job have ever had any form of competency based training.

Without it, the traditional interview is only 5% better than pure guesswork as to whether or not someone is right for a job. In spite of this, 85% of companies use face-to-face interviews as the only method of assessment in middle-management and above positions.

Following an insightful training session with Jeff Grout – we have pulled together some key takeaways that you can (and really should) take note of.

1. Prepare

It’s 5 minutes to 12.00 and you get a call from reception – your candidate has arrived (already?!) and you quickly scan your inbox for their CV. Jabbing at Ctrl-P, you take a detour past the printer and shoot a glance at the name of the candidate you’re about to meet.

Go into the interview prepared. If a candidate knew nothing about you or your business you probably wouldn’t hire them and rightly so! This works both ways, so dedicate some time before the interview to review their CV, print out a job spec and make sure you have a business card to hand.

Little things make a big difference. Make a quick call to reception and let them know whom you’re meeting – It sounds simple enough but we assure you, the candidate will feel like a superstar when they are greeted at reception properly.

2. Build rapport

It sounds obvious, but is so important if you want to make a potential employee feel comfortable. Questions like ‘awful weather isn’t it?’ and ‘did you find us ok?’ are typical icebreakers. We’ve all used them and we’re sure you would all agree that they sound superficial and certainly aren’t very engaging. Ask them about their weekend or talk about mutual hobbies/interests…you have read their CV haven’t you?

3. Set the agenda

Take control during the interview. A great way to establish this from the start is to set a clear agenda – let the candidate know how much time you’ll need and what you intend to cover during that time. This will put the candidate at ease and enable you to achieve your intended objectives.

4. Ask great questions…

Interviewer: ‘What is it about managing people that you like? The Challenge of it?’

Candidate: ‘Yes, it’s the challenge of people management that I find really appealing’

Well great! They relish the challenge of managing people. NO! You just took them by the hand and walked them straight into the answer you were looking for.

To get the right information, you need to ask the right questions. Most interviewers know not to ask closed, leading, or loaded questions but what about ‘multiple questioning?’ Asking a series of connected questions can lead to fluffy answers because the candidate has forgotten the first one by the time you’ve finished your sentence!

Keeping your questions open will force the candidate to elaborate. Finally, keep them short and ask in plain English. You don’t want a fluffy answer so don’t present them with a fluffy question!

5. Don’t talk too much

SHUT UP! But seriously…listen once in a while. You won’t learn a thing about this candidate if you’re doing most of the talking! Realistically, you should be speaking no more than 30% of the time. Beware of job seekers who try to get you to do most of the talking. They will use the information you provide and loop that back into giving you answers you want to hear!

6. Set realistic expectations

The most worrying thing for a candidate is the not knowing. Tell them if there are any other candidates in process, what the next steps might look like and when (precisely) they should expect to hear back from you. As well as leaving them with a warm, fuzzy feeling, you won’t be hounded 15 times between now and next Tuesday with candidates asking for feedback!

So, next time you interview, do what the majority don’t and give your candidate a positive experience. Prepare, make them feel welcome and set realistic expectations – as well as reducing the chance of them dropping out of process, you’ll improve your employer brand and save yourself some time!

Rob Holdstock

Written by , Consultant

Rob joined Oasis HR in 2011 - specialising in the management of mid-senior level HR vacancies within the retail, media and online digital space. He graduated from the University of Hertfordshire majoring in English Literature and is a self-taught singer/guitarist. Outside of work, Rob tries to keep fit (with the assistance of his dog ‘peanut’) and can be found either socialising with friends or in the shower, singing into a bottle of shower gel.

Contact Robert:
robert.holdstock@oasishr.com
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