Part 1: Crafting the perfect job interview

The goal of the interview is to give a candidate the opportunity to prove their skills. (Rawpixel pic)

A job interview is a formal conversation between an employer and a candidate in which the recruiter or hiring manager assesses whether the candidate has the qualifications necessary to perform the open role.

Here is Part 1 on how to craft the perfect job interview.

Types of job interviews

There are a few different types of job interviews, depending on the role, hiring process, and how far into the hiring process a candidate gets. Some common types of job interviews include:

  • Phone screen: This is to ensure candidates are who they say they are. A recruiter will verify information on a resume and weed out unqualified candidates.
  • Video interview: Either a one-way (prerecorded) or live video interview can be used with remote candidates and/or early in the hiring process to further screen applicants.
  • Automated interviews: Candidates respond to a series of questions in their own time when it suits them. This usually involves some combination of skill assessment and video interview.
  • Selection interview: A traditional, in-person interview where a candidate sits down with someone (usually the recruiter or hiring manager) to respond to questions about their skills and experience.
  • Group interview: A few different candidates are interviewed simultaneously in an effort to assess how each person works in a team.
  • Panel interview: Several people interview a candidate at once.
  • Behavioural interview: Questions are designed to learn whether a candidate has the knowledge, skills, and abilities required for the position.

Each interview varies slightly in format and type of questions asked. In the phone screen, ask about the items listed on a person’s resume, verifying that they have the experience they’ve claimed to have.

In a behavioural or case study interview, ask about how a person works through a problem.

When hosting a candidate for a traditional, in-person interview, prepare a list of questions that you will consistently ask every candidate. Standardising questions makes it easier to compare each individual’s performance.

At the time of the interview, do what you can to put the candidate at ease. Then, start with easier questions.

The goal of the interview is to give a candidate the opportunity to prove their skills. As you move through questions, make the interview script practical, not theoretical.

Spend no more than an hour going through your questions, and make sure to leave time for the candidate to ask you for information about the company. Just as you’re assessing an applicant, so should they screen your organisation to learn if it’s the right fit.

A recruiter should screen candidates to invite only those most qualified to perform the role’s requirements for the interview. (Rawpixel pic)

Interview preparation

A recruiter should screen candidates to invite those most qualified to perform the role’s requirements.

Some companies still use a traditional phone screen – but there are better ways to make sure the most qualified candidates make it through to the interview round.

Automated skills assessments are a good way to screen candidates in by providing an unbiased, validated evaluation of a candidate’s ability.

With the results of your automated skill test, invite the top two to three for an interview. Follow these steps.

1. Review job description: Go back to your job description to craft questions that directly relate to the role. A well thought-out job description will help you verify that a candidate has the essential skills, as well as any bonus qualifications or marginal duties listed.

2. Prepare questions: Prepare questions based on existing top-performers. “What do they have in common? How are they resourceful? What did they accomplish prior to working at your organisation? What roles did they hold?

3. Set the agenda: Internally, set an agenda for yourself so you can keep the interview moving.

Having a rough schedule will help you begin and end the session on time, writes Workable.

4. Involve only a few: Industry best practice is to have no more than three people interview a candidate. Involve the candidate’s boss, that person’s boss, and an HR representative.

5. Review candidate’s application: Not only should you review their CV, but also the results of their skills assessment and any pre-screening that the candidate has already gone through.

Avoid asking a candidate the same questions to which they’ve already responded.

A job interview can make or break a candidate’s experience. An unprepared interviewer can destroy the candidate experience and undo any employer branding your company has already achieved.

Prep before meeting a candidate, ask thoughtful questions and give each interviewee the chance to do their own vetting.

The interview

A great interview feels more like a conversation, rather than an interrogation. You want to sell your organisation to a candidate as much as test their ability.

Make the interview concise, and don’t make too many demands on the time of your interview candidates. The best interview process includes three to five phases.

Step 1: The phone screen

Phone screens can be time-consuming, and many companies are forgoing this step in favour of moving straight to the skills assessment.

Step 2: The skills test

A skill assessment or automated interview may include one or two pre-recorded video interview questions. Automated interviews and skill tests prevent recruiters (and candidates) from wasting time on phone screens and in-person interviews.

Automated hiring software that deploys these tests make it easy to schedule and conduct effective interviews instantly. This step can take as little as four days from start to finish and can be done from anywhere in the world.

Step 3: The in-person interview

The first in-person interview can be used to answer unanswered questions from the hiring process.

In this step, “Interviewers can determine if the candidate’s personal values mesh with your company values and find out what motivates them at work,” says The Muse.

Step 4: The team panel

Some companies use a team panel, case study, or group interview to further evaluate candidates.

The team panel will involve multiple people from the department for which the candidate is interviewing. The goal is to assess how the individual would fit with existing team members.

Step 5: The final interview

Finally, the candidate may meet with the hiring manager or senior leadership – the person or people in charge of authorising the position and who will be the manager once the candidate comes on board.

The most important steps are the skills assessment and traditional interview: each phase can be customised depending on the role and the organisation.

Keep your eyes peeled for Part 2, coming soon.

This article first appeared in Vervoe At Vervoe, their mission is to fundamentally transform the hiring process from mediocracy to meritocracy.