A Checklist for Interviewers
The interview process is an important and time consuming process. Time and effort spent now choosing the correct person will mean dividends for you and your users/clients in the future. Rest assured each candidate that you will see from Reflex has been fully briefed about your organisation and the position on offer.
We have set out below a list of general guidelines in order to help you achieve this. Naturally, these are designed to be entirely flexible and need to be adapted to each interview situation as it arises.
It is best to plan in advance the questions you are going to ask. Aim to ask the same type of questions of each candidate, as well as using an interview report sheet (see below) in order to compare all candidates later.
For the purpose of these guidelines we have divided the interview into three distinct areas, together with a general footnote on why some interviews go wrong:
1) The Start
When interviewing, not only is the candidate on show and under scrutiny, but so is your organisation. First impressions count, so the candidate should be made to feel welcome as soon as they enter the office. Many years ago it was reported that IBM salesman were told that a client will make up their mind whether they like a salesperson within the first four minutes, and so we feel that a good applicant coming for interview may also make the same judgment. It is important that your staff know that you are expecting visitors. Thus when the candidate arrives on your premises, he/she should be smoothly and swiftly taken to the interview room. We recommend that the place of interview be private i.e. cut off from a general office with telephone calls barred. The room should be light, airy and tidy, and two chairs should be placed beside a table or desk.
From the interviewer's point of view, the interview starts the moment the candidate enters the building. Take a good look at the applicant to see how he/she presents him/herself. Generally speaking, when a person goes for interview they will be as smart as you ever expect to see them. Do they give you a firm handshake and look you straight the eye? Think - this is generally how the person may present himself/herself when he/she arrives at one of your user/client sites. Would this be the type of impression that you would like him/her to give of your organisation in the future?
2) Core Interview
Once the interview starts it is useful to introduce yourself and then run through the history of your organisation and its current position to date. Then move on to your role within the organisation together with plans for the future. You should also explain the position that you are interviewing for. We would then suggest the applicant runs through their CV with you from leaving school and further education to the current date. You should enquire why the candidate left each of his or her previous positions and why they took the next. You must find out why they are looking for the latest position and what things in their new position are they looking for?
In terms of general interview questions, you should try and ask open ended questions in each of the following areas i.e. personal, technical skills and for the more senior positions, managerial questions.
General questions: Open questions are useful as they draw out candidates and their opinions, and so on. They are questions to which they cannot answer "YES" or "NO". Some possible questions to prepare:
- Tell me about your redundancy (if appropriate) or why do you want to leave your present employer?
- Tell me about yourself (i.e. ask about their profile/skills/achievements - avoiding a life history)?
- Tell me about your strengths?
- What did you like doing best in your last job?
- Where do you see yourself in 3-5 year's time?
- What salary or package are you looking for?
- What are your views on relocation?
- What did you think of your last company?
- Why do you want to work for us?
- How do you react to criticism?
- How would you describe your personality e.g. lively, conservative, extrovert, introvert etc?
- Are you ambitious/competitive?
- What motivates you in a work situation?
- Do you enjoy working under pressure?
- How would you describe your sense of humour?
- Describe your ability as a team member i.e. a follower, a leader?
- What are your personal weaknesses?
- What areas do you find it difficult to work in?
- Are you happy to travel during the course of a working day?
- Are you happy to stay away from home for long/short periods?
Technical questions: With regard to the technical side of the interview and in order to assess each candidate's technical ability and future potential, perhaps ask the following, where appropriate:
- Where do your technical strengths lie and are all these recent 'hands on' skills?
- Do you wish to continue working in a technical environment?
- What technical part of your recent work do you find it difficult to get to grips with?
- Do you pick up new products/technology quickly?
- What technical training courses have you completed?
- In which areas of specific business applications have you been working?
Management role questions: When interviewing a candidate for a managerial role, we would recommend that you ask some of the following questions:
- Do you consider yourself to be a good manager?
- How would you describe your management style?
- What man management skills do you have, day to day control, team size, reporting responsibilities?
- Outline any full project responsibilities that you have had, lengths of projects etc?
- How successful have your projects been and have they been on schedule and to budget?
- Have you any Project Management tools experience, if so what and to what extent?
- What oral and written skills do you have, i.e. presentation, reports and proposals?
- Do you have any ability/desire to develop new business i.e. including from existing customers?
- Do you have responsibility for budget forecasting, monitoring and managing?
- What size of budgets have you handled where you have had full control?
- Have you any experience of ITT's or quotations?
3) The Finish
At the end of the interview you should have a good indication as to whether the applicant can do the job you have on offer. However, you need to find out what they think. The following questions may be asked; What do you think of the job as described so far? Which areas do you feel you can contribute to from day one? In which areas do you feel weak and would require special training? Which part of the job do you find least appealing?
We would suggest you double check the applicant's current salary package, breaking it down into those elements of basic salary plus overtime payments, bonus payments, mortgage subsidies, health insurance, car, pension and other benefits. Then link this to the salary package sought by the applicant, as well as their availability.
We would also suggest you investigate the 'buy back' i.e. when the candidate's present employer finds out that the candidate is on the point of leaving, what they must do (if anything) to keep the person.
At the end of the interview we would recommend that you ask the candidate whether they have any further questions. We would recommend you then describe what happens next, i.e. any second interviews and when they will take place. Also mention that Reflex Computer Recruitment will get in touch with them as soon as you have clarified the shortlist. We recommend you should be positive even though you may feel they could possibly be rejected for the position. Once the candidate has left the premises, we would suggest that you run through your notes, as in the heat of the interview you may write down scribble which some time later you cannot decipher.
Why Interviews Can Go Wrong
Reflex have analysed the results of interviews and have listed the more common reasons as to why interviews go wrong. They are listed in no particular order:
- Interviewer being unprepared
- Poor appearance of your reception/office
- Lack of confidence in the organisation's future
- Lack of information about the job or the interviewer being too vague
- Interviewer being critical about the organisation or staff members
- Weak handshake or lack of eye contact
- The interviewer lacking drive or energy
- The interviewer being too familiar
- The interviewer not discussing training
- The interviewer not discussing career path
- Overzealous questioning or testing
- Being called to be interviewed for role "A", on the day being interviewed for role "B"
- Candidate's salary and salary package not mentioned by interviewer
- The interviewer spending too much time talking and not enough time questioning
- Neglecting to recognise and thank the applicant for their time
A Typical Interview Appraisal Form
|SUITABILITY FOR POSITION|
|DO I LIKE HIM/HER|
|OVERALL MATCH FOR VACANCY|
SUGGESTED GRADE SCALE: 5 = Excellent 3 = Average 1 = Poor