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How to Handle Job Interviews

By: Scott McBride - Updated: 15 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
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Attending a job interview can be nerve-wracking for even the most experienced of candidates. It can be just as stressful for the manager who has to conduct the interview and select the best candidate for the job. A manager who prepares thoroughly for an interview will manage to make the whole process far more pleasant for both the candidate and themselves.

The first task is to plan the interview questions. Use information gleaned from the candidate’s application form or CV to do this. In particular, look for anything that does not seem to add up, such as any gaps in education or employment.

It is vital that a manager knows the job description inside out so that their interview questions are relevant and help them compare candidates and reach a decision. If a manager has one or more colleagues helping to conduct the job interview, decide beforehand who will deal with what topics.

Ask Open-Ended Questions

One of the top tips is to include some open-ended questions that need more than a simple “yes” or “no” to answer. For instance, ask a candidate about the main responsibilities in their current job, their reasons for wanting to leave that job, what they would have done differently during their career or where they sees themselves in five years’ time. Remember the candidate may want to ask some questions about the job or the company, so a manager should have all the necessary information at their fingertips.

Make all the arrangements for the interview well in advance. Find out if a candidate has any special needs, tell relevant members of staff – such as receptionists – to expect the candidate, ensure the interview room is suitable and provide refreshments. Allow plenty of time for the interview, so there is no need to rush, and ensure there will be no interruptions.

By doing the groundwork thoroughly, a manager can then give their full concentration during the interview to getting quality information from the candidate. This will allow them to assess each candidate fairly and fully against the criteria in the job description.

Put Candidates at Ease

First of all, a manager should welcome the candidate and introduce themselves and any colleagues taking part in the interview. One of the best tips for putting a candidate at ease is to use a round table for the interview. Often managers will sit behind a desk or use a higher chair than the candidate, but this can be intimidating.

Explain the structure of the interview and outline the company’s background and the role. Go into each interview with an open mind and encourage the candidate to explain how their skills and experience apply to the vacancy. Allow the candidate time to think and speak, but manage to keep control of the interview and if the candidate is going off-track, turn the conversation back to the information needed. Answer any questions the candidate may have and explain the next stage in the recruitment process.

A job interview is a two-way street and while a company weighs up candidates, the candidates will be weighing up the company. The best candidates will be in demand and a quick job search may throw up several suitable jobs, so competition can be fierce. A manager’s enthusiasm for the vacant role and the company can be infectious and may even lead to candidates dismissing any other jobs their job search had unearthed.

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