Interviewing is an imprecise but highly necessary engagement to go through when hiring. They are a pressured discussion over the course of 2-3 one or so hour sessions we ultimately make a decision as to whether we want to spend more time in the company of this individual than that of our spouse! For this reason its best to be a little scientific, always consistent and where possible - remove the emotional content of the decision.
If you have a bit of time you may like to read our ebook on 'The Art of Interviewing'.
General Interview Tips
- Have a standard interview form and ask exactly the same questions of every person.
- Involve someone else in the interview or have them meet the interviewee separately.
- Try to get yourself and the candidate as relaxed as possible, a small amount of pressure will enhance someone’s performance but a great deal will likely lead them to collapse.
- If you have a job description (legally you're required to in NZ), then base questions around it. Also make sure you create at the KPI’s for the position.
- Have 2-3 interviews for the shortlisted candidates. Each should have a different focus, and remember to sell the role to the candidate.
Behavioural and Competency Interviews
These are specific questions asking for examples of experience to back up statements of fact, or performance areas in the role. For example;
- Tell me about an occasion where you had some conflict with a customer and how you came to a resolution.
- Can you walk me through a specific time when you have taken an issue from problem to resolution?
- Give me an example of when you have had multiple demands upon your time and how you have prioritised these?
Competency questions are best taken from the role KPI's as they relate to on-the-job performance and experience therein.
This interview encompasses questions which call for a candidate's self-assessment of their ability relating to the area of interest for the role.
- What is your leadership style like?
- Why should we hire you?
- How do you prioritise?
The key difference between these types of interviews is that one relates back to specific experience the candidate has gained rather than an opportunity for the candidate to revert to general selling of their ability. We believe the most effective interview is one that encompasses an appropriate measure of both techniques. This allows the candidate to talk to specific experiences on the one hand, and on the other be a little more generic and effusive (this tends to put people at ease and allow them to perform at their best).
When to use each technique?
To start the interview, outline how the discussion will go (so the candidate has certainty and will relax), then we advocate moving into simple and open situational questions like:
"Tell us about your career to date" or "What will your next role look like". Once through these and the candidate is relaxed, you can turn up the heat a little and move into some competency questions. It’s most effective to use this approach for the deliverables that you've identified as being critical - eg; if they must be accustomed to managing large complex accounts then we'd suggest asking something like "describe a circumstance where you were tasked with managing a large and complex account and the challenges this presented you".