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Top ten interview tips – for interviewers

After two weeks of back-to-back interviews, seeing people from all walks of life, genders, and lifestyle choices, I’ve decided to write a bit of a guide on interviews, from the interviewer’s viewpoint.

The reason I’m doing this is because most magazine articles spout the usual sort of thing – i.e., relax, be yourself, dress smart etc, but never do it for the interviewers. So, these are the tips that I have picked over the two or so years and the couple hundred interviews and C.V’s I’ve sifted.

1) Read throught the C.Vs/applications forms on your own. Make sure that you’re not only getting a feel for the essential and desirable comptencies, but also for a feel of the person.Have they done spell checking? I can guarantee that if someone says ‘I have good typing skills and I’m acurrate’ I’m sure I’ll find a mistake further on, if not in the actual statement 🙂

2) Generally, if the supporting statement is poor, the interview will be poor. Anyone who puts in a short/incomplete/badly written supporting statement, really doesn’t want this job. Even if it’s on a sub-conscious level, they don’t want the job. If they did want the job they would have spell-checked and grammar-checked, spoken to friends to see how it reads, re-written it at least twice based on feedback and by reading it with the employer’s need in mind. Rather like writing an actual book.

3) Once you’ve read through the papework, give it a score out of 10 and write down any plusses or cons that the applicant has. Then pass on the paperwork to any colleagues involved in the interview process and get them to do the same. Take the final scores, average them, and make a record.

4) When you’ve done the above, you can then list the candidates in score order. Those with the highest are the ones you’re going to want to interview.

Obviously you may well have to take those that you don’t want to interview if you haven’t had the right number of applications. You’ll be surprised at how your initial scorings match the actual interview results.

5) Dress to impress. If the candidate doesn’t dress to impress, it shows a certain lack of true interest in the role. Short sleeved shirts, stains, shirts untucked or too short to tuck in, work boots or unpolished shoes. All of these point to either a conscious or sub-conscious effort to fail. That or they genuinely are sloppy. In which case, do you really want them working for you?

6) Dress to impress too. If the interviewer doesn’t dress to impress, it too shows a certain lack of interest in either the candidate, or the role up for offer. If you fail to impress your candidate, and hire them, they’ll have their first impression still burned upon their memory; ‘sloppy git’ is not what you want them to think about you.

7) There’s a difference bettween digging for more information, and having to feed the candidate in order to get an answer. If they are short in their answers, dig for more, but don’t feed them. For example; ‘What are your throughts on customer service and how do you ensure that your customers are left with a positive image of you.’ should result in an answer that’s about a minute to two minutes long, sprinkled with all the keywords you’re looking for.

This is a wrong answer; ‘Customer service is very important and you should always be polite and professional.’ D’uh, thanks for giving me the most shallow and crap answer you obviously can’t be bothered to think about.

Digging would be, ‘Okay, so what aspects would you think define being professional?’

Feeding would be, ‘okay, so you think that being polite, remaining calm when the customer is confrontational or rude, asking them if there’s anything more you can do for them and wishing them a good day is a good example of being professional?’

Digging makes the candidate realise that they’ve given an answer you either didn’t want, or that you want them to expand upon. Feeing is giving them the exact answer and letting them agree to, and build upon it.

8) Don’t be afraid to interrupt a candidate if they’re waffling. Then dig, don’t feed.

9) Always set a baseline score that candidates need to achieve in order to join the hallowed ranks of the ‘want list.’ But don’t let the numbers rule your decisions. Operational aspects and factors need to be taken into account for example, one of the candidates scores 96 and is a sociopath, the other scored 94 and is not a sociopath. Hopefully – unless you’re a Top-secret government agency looking for new footsoldiers – you won’t be looking to hire a sociopath, so the ‘thoroughly decent chap’ gets the job.

10) Go with your gut instincts. If you don’t like them in the interview, odds are you’ll never like them. Why bother with all the hassle, when you can hire people that you do like?

There are more, but these are the ones I feel are the most valuable.

About mattsylvester

Father of two beautiful daughters and married to the beautiful Karen, Matthew has been reading and writing fantasy and science fiction since he first read the Hobbit at the age of 7.


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