During the course of your career, there’s one thing that is always going to come up – interviews. Some people dread them, and others quite enjoy them. Either way, there’s a lot to think about when you interview someone. It’s not just a list of questions to ask. Remember that the candidates are also interviewing you!
Who should conduct the interview?
This generally depends on what position you’re recruiting for. But you should always have the person who will be managing the new employee. The last thing anyone wants is a new recruit on their team that they’ve never met before.
We recommend having 2 people interviewing. That way you get a balanced opinion, and someone can take the notes for you while you’re listening to the candidates answers to your questions.
You’ve shortlisted your candidates and you’ve invited them in for interviews. At this point, we’d recommend that you revisit the role you’re recruiting for. What do you need this person to be able to do? Do they need to have a particular qualification? A particular skill? Should they be organised? Do they need to be flexible with their approach to work? There’s a lot to consider.
Review their CV’s again and remind yourself what made them stand out. What relevant experience do they have for the role? Are there any burning questions you want to ask them? Like “What made you leave X company?”
There’re always horror stories in the news about a company being taken to Tribunal for asking questions at an interview that they really shouldn’t have. Or, better still, asking candidates to do things like “do an impression of a dinosaur” . But, in reality, how do you know what to steer away from when it comes to interview questions? Our best advice for this would be to think about why you are asking the question. Will the answer to this question tell you if the candidate is going to be able to carry out the role, or are you just being nosey?
Questions like “What would you do in XX situation?” are fine, as long as the situation you’re referring to is related to the position they’ve applied for. Whereas questions like “Where’s your accent from?” or “Do you plan on having kids?” we would say to stay well away from. The only reason you’re asking these is because you’re being nosey. Where someone is from or whether they have kids will not make any difference to their ability to do a job and could land you in a lot of trouble if they don’t get the job. Keep reading and we’ll tell you how.
Have a list of questions that you’re going to ask all of the candidates that you’re interviewing. That way, no one can say that you’ve asked some weird and wonderful question that isn’t relevant.
A+ or C-?
When you’re planning the questions, you want to ask a candidate, you also need to think about what answers you’re expecting. Unless you know what answers you’re expecting, how can you decide what mark to give someone?
The answers should have marks that reflect the number of things you need to hear. So, if you’re asking someone “what do you do if there’s a customer complaint?” and you want to hear them say 4 specific things, then your question is going to have a maximum of 4 points.
By using a scoring structure, you will be able to assess who is the right candidate for the role.
Discrimination claims can come in from someone who isn’t even employed by you. Earlier we warned you away from asking things like “where’s your accent from?” or “Do you plan on having kids?”. The reason we say to steer away from these types of questions is because they could leave you open to a discrimination claim.
You’ve interviewed 2 people; one man and one woman. You asked the female candidate if she planned on having kids and she said yes. You then offer the job to the male candidate. On the face of it, it could look like you’ve not given the female candidate the job because she’s planning on having kids. That would be discriminatory and could cost you an awful lot of money (as well as a bad reputation and bad publicity).
What should I avoid asking?
We would say to avoid asking anything that could be seen to be discriminatory. Here’s a few examples:
- Where are you from?
- Are you married?
- What is your sexuality?
- Are you disabled?
- What religion do you follow?
- How many children do you have?
- Where were you born?
- How old are you?
- What political party do you support?
It’s hard to remember every person you’ve interviewed. Sometimes their faces just blur into one. What’s the harm in doing a little note to yourself about them on their CV or interview form? Actually, it can be worse than you think.
Anyone who applies to your business for a job can put in a request to see what data you hold about them (this falls under the data protection regulations). That means that they get to see everything; including their CV that you’ve doodled on and their interview notes where you’ve written “most boring person ever” in the top corner.
Best thing we can tell you is to avoid writing anything personal when you’re filling in your interview notes. Keep it factual i.e. a record of the answer they gave you. It’s not relevant if they had a nice tie on, so you don’t really need to write that down, and even if it was the most boring interview in the world, it’s best not to put that in your notes too.
Tell me more…
If you do want to read more about recruitment pitfalls, we would suggest having a look at the following article: