Candidates aren’t the only ones who need to prepare for interviews

A recent study has cited that poor preparation and irrelevant questions are the most off-putting interviewer habits, and understandably, this lack of effort could be costing employers the chance of hiring the best candidates.

Interviewing has been called an art form, and there’s no doubt that it calls for insight and creativity. But it’s also a science, requiring process, methodology, and consistency to produce truly accurate and effective results.

Having a pre-planned structure ensures you’re asking the right questions, staying on track, and maximising the output of your interviews.


Step 1. Define Your Objectives – Even if you’re an interviewing pro, it’s easy to forget something and this could really backfire.

Take the time to clearly define what you are looking for before you begin recruiting. Bring in the hiring manager, as well as peers or those who have performed the job in the past to make sure you are painting an accurate picture of the ideal candidate. Armed with this information, you’ll be better able to evaluate each candidate.

  • Describe the Position’s Duties: Identify what this person will be expected to do and the technical knowledge and skills required to do the job.
  • Identify Success Factors: How did previous top performers in this job behave?
  • Establish Performance Expectations: What do you expect this person to accomplish?


Step 2. Select Your Questions – Don’t rely on a job description and a candidate’s CV to structure the interview. You’ll get much better information if you carefully pre-select questions that allow you to evaluate whether a candidate has those skills and behaviours you’ve identified are essential for the role.

You might include some or all of these types of questions:

Openers: These are used to break the ice, build rapport and set candidates at ease before beginning the formal interview.

  • How was your journey to get to us today?
  • Tell me a bit about yourself?
  • What appealed most to you about this position?

Traditional Questions: With these, you can gather general information about a candidate and their skills and experience. Because these questions are asked often, many candidates will have prepared answers to them, so they can be used to help candidates feel at ease in the early stages of an interview.

  • What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses
  • What would you identify as your top three core competencies?
  • What are your career ambitions?
  • What do you enjoy most about your current role?

Competency Based Questions: Ask candidates to share their experiences of when they have demonstrated specific skills. These questions can help you understand a candidate’s thought process and get some real examples of their capabilities. Each complete answer from a candidate should be in the form of a STAR response — the complete Situation, Task, Action and Result.

  • Tell me a time when you have demonstrated [competency, skill, function, etc.]
  • Give an example of a difficult situation you have been in. What was it, and how did you resolve it?

Behaviour-Based Questions: These are to help you understand an individual’s behaviours in the workplace – you should try and ascertain specific examples here too.

  • How do you handle pressure in the workplace?
  • What motivates you?
  • How would your colleagues describe you in the workplace?
  • Can you tell me about a time where you supported your colleagues?

Culture-Fit Questions: These will help you select candidates who are motivated and suited to perform well in the unique environment of your organisation. Are they the right fit for your team and business?

  • What would you bring to our organisation?
  • What part do you tend to play within a team?
  • What do you do in your spare time?
  • What type of work environments do you respond best to?


Step 3. Build an Interview Team – Whenever possible, it’s better to have more than one person interviewing candidates; you’ll gain a balanced perspective and will have a greater chance of exploring more avenues in the interview process. In addition to the reporting manager and a human resources representative, think about including some of the people who will be working with the new hire.


Step 4. Sell The Opportunity – It’s important to remember that interviews are also a chance for candidates to assess you as well. Ensure that you consider how this role will allow candidates to progress their career. Prepare some information regarding additional training, career prospects and your review processes to share in the interview.


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If you’re looking for more support in getting the most out of candidate interviews then please contact us today to discuss our bespoke training packages: 01254 239363