Interviewing is a key part of the recruitment process, and as such, it's essential to get it right.
At face value, it may seem easy — ask a few questions and then determine if you like the candidate. However, the moving pieces that go into finding the right candidate are complex and time-consuming. They require proper attention and preparation.
The best practice of selecting and interviewing candidates requires a sharp interviewer who not only knows the industry and role requirements but who also has a firm grasp on how to follow a thorough and professional interview process.
Here at Richard Lloyd, we have over 120 years of combined experience interviewing Accounting talent. Along the way, we’ve learned a thing or two about preparing for interviews, asking the right questions, and sorting through a large pool of candidates to find the right fit for your unique needs.
Why is it important to ask the right questions?
For starters, make sure you are asking appropriate questions that all relate to the job role or cultural alignment. Some questions can be out of line or downright illegal to ask, so you need to be sure to consciously avoid them and they have no bearing on whether a candidate can do the job or not. These include questions that reveal a candidate’s age, race, marital status, sexuality, religion, disability, or whether they have children plus quite a few more.
A general rule of thumb is to avoid asking about anything that would provoke any sort of bias for selecting candidates. Instead focus on their interview performance, education, skills, and previous experience.
In your interviews, you’ll want to make sure you gain a holistic view of each candidate that you're interviewing. If you ask easy or surface-level questions, you’re far less likely to reveal strengths, weaknesses, or other prominent characteristics and competencies that will help you make your final hiring decision.
To get the best possible answers, it is the best idea to focus on general, competency-based (including technical and behavioural) and situational questions. To explain in more detail, these are:
General questions confirm resume details, outline achievements, and provide a general background for each candidate.
Competency-based questions assume that past behaviour is a strong indicator of future behaviour. Ask candidates to describe situations and examples of past challenges and how they handled them.
Situational questions provide an insight into what a candidate would do in a hypothetical situation.
Making a lasting impression
Creating your first impression as a possible future employer is critical, especially when recruiting in-demand talent. The best candidates have options, they are comparing opportunities and you want to be able to stand out so when the time comes, your preferred candidate picks your organisation.
Making a great first impression means being prepared ahead of time and ready on the day. Tips include:
Securing a meeting room or sending a Zoom invite along with clear instructions for the interview
Reading through the resumes in advance to understand your interviewees
Preparing your questions, both general and specific to the individual candidates
Limiting distractions during the interview by silencing your phone, turning off notifications on your computer, and doing everything in your power to ensure they have your full attention
Providing a welcoming environment such as the offer of water or any other refreshment
The way you treat your candidates solidifies your brand’s reputation in the market. Even the candidates who don't receive an offer will remember how you treated them and will share their experience with others. Whether their experience is positive or negative comes down to you.
Enhancing the candidate experience
According to IBM research, people satisfied with their candidate experience are 38% more likely to accept a job offer. Another study showed that 68.5% would never apply for a job in your company again after a negative experience. For better or worse, the candidate experience has a compounding effect that all employers should take seriously.
When conducting an internal analysis of the experience you offer, put yourself in the candidate’s shoes. Applying for a new job is a life-changing experience and is equally exciting and stressful. The more informed and comfortable your candidates are throughout the process, the more likely they’ll accept your offer, apply again, or spread the word to friends in the industry that you’re a professional and respectful company. Have you made any new hires in the last few months? Ask your new team members how they found the process. Their feedback could be invaluable.
Interviewing for executive roles
Interviewing junior or mid-level employees can come with less pressure because if they make a mistake, it’s often with lower stakes at risk. Picking the wrong candidate for a C-suite role, on the other hand, can have a disastrous effect on your company’s performance.
With that in mind, you’re going to need a significantly different process to identify, interview, and hire executives. Competency-based interview questions are of greater importance because you need someone who not only demonstrates results but fits the culture and leads by example. Ideally, someone who will empower your team and bring out the best in everyone.
Get Personalised Guidance
Our resources are jam-packed with helpful tips and tricks to improve your interview process and find the best possible candidates. But you should consider that you may have unique needs that require a more specialised approach.