As a recruitment and interview specialist, I cannot emphasise this enough; interviewing is a skill.
It’s not easy, and not everyone is great at it. Just like we would advise an interviewee, being an interviewer also takes preparation. Your body language and your communication style matters. And if you get it wrong, it can have implications.
It seems obvious. However, the volume of examples of poor practice and unacceptable behaviour that come across my desk are quite startling. And by the way – the principles I outline here are also useful for anyone interviewing a supplier for a tender process, as well as for candidates going through interview.
What often happens in organisations is this;
But the implications of poor interview practice are this;
So, in no particular order; here’s some examples of all too common interview practices to avoid at all costs.
1. Rude and unwelcoming behaviour. Appearing harassed, stressed, unprepared and not giving your full, undivided attention to the candidate is unacceptable. They may have taken time out of work, spent time preparing and researching your business or have travelled a long way. Just to feel like an imposition? This is a bad way to treat a candidate and is likely to have a negative impact on how they feel about your organisation.
2. Being unprepared. Walking round an office trying to find a vacant meeting room, not having the candidate’s CV or application materials in front of you, clearly not having read them and not knowing their name and current role, will make you look unprofessional and bring stress, not calm to the start of an interview. This will make for a less productive session for both you and your interviewee. You should have everything ready; materials, chairs and table and offer a drink, to put your candidate at ease and give the impression of a friendly, welcoming working environment.
3. Being on your phone or device during the interview. Can you just imagine anything more distracting or frankly insulting than putting your career in the hands of the person in front of you; only to find them tapping away on their phone, tablet or laptop whilst you are speaking? And yet, this happens. Best interview practice definitely should include thorough note taking. But if you wish to take notes during the interview on a device, then explain this to the candidate. Even better, write notes on a notepad with a pen which will be less distracting for your candidate. If you are interviewing on your own, you’ll need to endeavour to balance note-taking with maintaining eye contact and interest with the candidate to motivate and bring out the best in them.
4. Interviewing in a noisy café. There will be occasions when due to meeting room availability or sensitivity around a role, an initial interview stage needs to take place off-site. But choose the right place. Not a venue with blaring music. People queuing or brushing past your table or coming in and out of the loos. What candidate is going to feel comfortable talking about themselves or able to concentrate on their performance in this environment? Do a reccy first and pick a quiet café, or pre-book a quiet corner table if there’s no other option available.
5. Don’t be weird or try to be cool or funny. Think about first impressions. Just as you expect nothing less than a professional conduct from your interviewee, you should display this too. Quirky little office practices can be introduced as and when appropriate - at induction once the candidate has the job. But showing them a pig that goes oink every time someone has a great idea or some other such quirk can fall flat on its face and simply come across at the least unprofessional and at worst, odd. And the same goes for interview questions. Keep them professional, relevant, skill-focused and quantifiable. An interview is a serious process and whilst you want the environment to be comfortable and put your candidate at ease; asking them what sandwich they would compare themselves to, is not the way to do it.
So, if you’re responsible for interviewing, do take a good look in the mirror. Not just at your appearance, but at your behaviour; how you represent your organisation, how professional you’ll appear on first impression, and how you intend to bring out the best performance from your candidate.
If you need any help, guidance or support with interviewing, call the specialists at the Recruitment Team now on 07971511731 or email firstname.lastname@example.org