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How to plan an interview and the questions you need to ask.
Interview Guide for Employers
Introduction
Fail to prepare and prepare to fail
A job interview is probably the most critical point of the selection proc...
-	 Define the job description and person specification
-	 Deciding on the selection panel
-	 Deciding on the selection met...
Planning the Interview
Clarifying and agreeing selection
criteria
The selection criteria should be taken from
the person s...
- Making the decision: It is good to be explicit
about the timing of the decision-making and
how the decision is to be com...
Venue and physical environment
The physical environment for the interview
and for candidates waiting to be interviewed
is ...
Conducting the Interview
Interview Structure
1. Introduce interviewers and explain the
format of the interview.
2. Check t...
Topics to Cover
Attempt to gain knowledge about the
candidate’s career growth, stability,
achievement, interpersonal skill...
Self-management, Self-motivation and Self-
knowledge
• What have you done that shows initiative
and willingness to work?
•...
Post Interview
The post-interview process should consist, of
the following elements:
1. Record your observations
Immediate...
Sigmar Recruitment are a wholly Irish owned
company with offices in Dublin, Cork, Galway
and Warsaw. Sigmar has been recog...
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Sigmar Recruitment - Interview guide for employers

How to plan an interview and the questions you need to ask.

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Sigmar Recruitment - Interview guide for employers

  1. 1. How to plan an interview and the questions you need to ask. Interview Guide for Employers
  2. 2. Introduction Fail to prepare and prepare to fail A job interview is probably the most critical point of the selection process. It provides a valuable opportunity for you and the candidate to learn more about each other and learning more about how the candidate might perform in the specific position to be filled. Candidates also have a right to learn about the job for which they are interviewed. You can get the most from the interview by carefully planning in advance what you want to learn from candidates as well as what they will need to learn from you. Contents Overview of the Interview Process.........3 Planning the Interview............................4 Conducting the interview........................7 Post Interview........................................10 2
  3. 3. - Define the job description and person specification - Deciding on the selection panel - Deciding on the selection method/s to be used - Shortlisting - Informing people who have not been shortlisted - Informing people who have been shortlisted of the selection procedure - Planning and preparing for the interviews - Conducting the interviews (or other selection methods where they are being used) Overview of the Interview Process - Making the decision - Following up of references - Informing management about the final recommendations for ratification - Writing a letter of offer to the successful candidate - Writing to the unsuccessful candidates - Co-ordinating the handover to the person or people responsible for induction 3www.sigmar.ie
  4. 4. Planning the Interview Clarifying and agreeing selection criteria The selection criteria should be taken from the person specification. The panel need to take time to ensure that they are all agreed on these criteria with a common understanding of what they mean. Develop an interview marking form (see Appendix I for sample) for each member of the panel with the names of the candidates and a list of the criteria. The panel should assess each candidate against each criterion. They usually do this individually directly after the interview. Planning questions From their agreed understanding of the selection criteria then develop a limited set of specific questions pertaining to the essential duties and responsibilities of the position to probe for the candidate’s strengths and weaknesses. The interview is for a limited time so it is essential that each question is focused and purposeful. The questions should be designed to make sure that the panel gets the information needed to assess whether this person will be the most suitable for the position. Interview questions should only relate to the job requirements. When framing questions employment and equality legislation should be borne in mind. Care should be taken to avoid questions whose content or wording might be perceived as giving rise to unequal treatment of one candidate compared to another of a different age, gender, marital status etc. Questions should deal with a candidate’s skills, talents, qualifications and help him or her demonstrate their capacity to do the job. The panel should decide in advance who will ask which questions and in what order. The panel also needs to clarify what information they should give to the candidates during the course of the interview, for example: - Terms and conditions: It is important that the panel is cleat about the range of terms and conditions being offered. Be clear about the period of probation, if there are unsocial hours to be worked, the nature of the contract, permanent or fixed term, and the salary scale. Interviews can be just as stressful for interviewers as the interviewee. Good planning will reduce anxiety and therefore enable panel members to give their full attention to the actual interview. Before the interview, the panel needs to take time together to sort out the following: www.sigmar.ie4
  5. 5. - Making the decision: It is good to be explicit about the timing of the decision-making and how the decision is to be communicated to the candidates. Interview practice If one or more members of the interview panel have not interviewed before it is helpful to practise agreed questions to check that they are clear and well communicated. Role plays are very useful for practising interview skills. Roles on the interview panel The panel needs to allocate roles, responsibilities and question areas. It is important not to stereotype members of the panel in the process. It is advisable to have a chairperson of the panel. The four key tasks of the chairperson are: - To facilitate the panel in planning the interview process together - To facilitate and direct the interviews according to the agreed structure and timing - To ensure that the panel reflects on how they are working as a team throughout the day as necessary and make changes accordingly - To facilitate the panel discussion and decision making process The panel as a team The panel needs to work together as a team so it is very helpful for members to consider in advance how they will deal with potential problems and disagreements. They also need to ensure that they have shared understanding of what equal opportunities interviewing entails. It is advisable to discuss how they can interrupt each other if they think it is necessary. It helps to take time after the first interview to evaluate how it went and how the panel are working together. Structure of the interview The interview should be planned so that it relates directly to the job description, the person specification and the candidate. If it is a large panel it is important to ensure that the interview is not just a series of short, superficial exchanges with each member. It is useful to tell each candidate the plan for the interview at the outset. Timetable for the interviews It is wise not to cram too many interviews into one day, six to eight at maximum. To make the best selection and to be fair to all candidates the interview panel needs to be able to maintain attention and remember all the interviews with equal clarity. There should be a copy of the timetable for the day, with the timing and spacing of interviews, breaks and running order with the candidates’ names, for each member of the panel and for the person working on reception. The length of interviews depends on the job and is usually from half an hour up to an hour. It is essential to give the panel adequate time to ascertain fully the interviewee’s skills and experience in each of the requirements specified in the person specification. If there are two sets of interviews for a position the first is usually shorter and the second is longer, giving the panel an opportunity to explore areas in greater depth. 5www.sigmar.ie
  6. 6. Venue and physical environment The physical environment for the interview and for candidates waiting to be interviewed is very important. The furniture in the interview room should be arranged to help both the candidates and the interview panel concentrate, feel comfortable and be at ease. Put up notices that indicate the interview and waiting rooms are in use and ensure that there will be no interruptions during the interviews. Make sure that there is somebody to let the candidates in, get them a cup of tea or coffee and show them where the bathroom is. Agreeing a decision-making procedure The panel also needs to agree in advance how they will make a decision. It is recommended that the panel takes time after each interview to score candidates individually according to each of the selection criteria and then to have a short collective discussion. Members should be reminded that in order to ensure fairness their assessments must be made on the basis of evidence from the interview rather than gut reactions or intuition. It is essential to have time for reflection and note-taking after each interview as people forget things easily. At the end of all the interviews, the panel should take time to make their decision by comparing their assessments and discussing each candidate. If the panel have used an interview marking form, the final decision may be on the basis of this. Records The following official records should be kept for six months after the interviews are completed in order to be able to deal with any subsequent complaints: • Job description • Person specification • Job advertisement • Application forms • Shortlisting procedure • Selection criteria • General framework for questions as planned in advance and where possible particular questions that arose during the interview • Interview assessments for each candidate • References • Any correspondence with candidates and • Final decision and the reason for making it. References It is important to clarify in advance what status will be given to references and at what stage in the selection process they will be sought. Generally references are not seen as a source of objective information so they should be weighted accordingly. References are most useful for checking out factual information, e.g. qualifications, length of service, sick leave record, attendance record, terms and conditions and reasons for leaving a job. It is advisable to plan what information is required of referees and not to ask for more than is necessary. It is important to consider the possibility that a negative reference may be due to personal bias. In the case of a negative reference about a candidate who the panel considers very suitable, it may be necessary to check it out further by discussing it with the candidate to get his/her version of events. One of the referees should be the candidate’s current or last employer. www.sigmar.ie6
  7. 7. Conducting the Interview Interview Structure 1. Introduce interviewers and explain the format of the interview. 2. Check that the candidate is clear about the job and give information about the organisation and the terms and conditions of service. 3. Ask the candidate to explain his/her interest in the job and suitability for it. 4. Clarify information in the candidate’s application form or CV. 5. Seek additional information about the candidate’s skills, experience and other details relevant to the person specification. 6. Ask the candidate further questions in order to assess the extent to which s/he meets the criteria in the person specification. 7. Give the candidate an opportunity to ask questions or to add any points or further information. 8. Tell the candidate when to expect information on the outcome. 9. Thank the candidate and close the interview. Controlling the Interview Above provides a good framework for conducting effective and consistent employment interviews. However, in order for it to help you obtain the information you need to make a sound employment decision; you must have control over the interview. Establishing and maintaining control of the interview requires effective listening combined with good questioning techniques. • The key to effective listening is for you to do minimal talking during the interview. • After establishing rapport and describing the job and its requirements to the candidate, let the candidate do most of the talking. • It is important that you pay attention to the candidate. Do not let your mind wander or think ahead to the next question instead of listening to what the candidate is saying. • Occasionally, restating a candidate’s reply or observation in your own words may be useful. • As noted previously, it is always a good technique to ask questions that require more than a simple “yes” or “no” answer. Your questioning should encourage the candidate to communicate information that will shed light on his or her capability to perform the job effectively. 7www.sigmar.ie
  8. 8. Topics to Cover Attempt to gain knowledge about the candidate’s career growth, stability, achievement, interpersonal skills and interest in the position. Examine the following areas: Work Experience Compare the duties and responsibilities, supervision and the candidate’s likes and dislikes of past and present positions with the position you are seeking to fill. Question the candidate on his or her progress and salary increases. Also find out the candidate’s reasons for leaving a past or current job. Relevance of Education A person’s educational choices can reveal important aspects of his or her personality, motivation, character and interests. Key areas include: subjects studied, academic performance, class offices held, night school attendance and work experience while in school. Outside Interests Because a candidate has the freedom to choose leisure activities, when relevant to the job, outside interests, such as organization and association memberships, and volunteer work, may be revealing. Sample Interview Questions General • What do you know about our company? • Why do you want to move to our company? • What role are your applying for? • What will you be doing on a day to day basis in this role? Influencing or Persuading Others • Tell me about a time when you were able to change someone’s viewpoint significantly. • Tell me about a time when you were asked to do something that you disagreed with. Interpersonal and Team Skills • What skills and personal qualities have you contributed to the teams you have been part of? • What qualities do you admire most in others? Communication Skills • Tell me about a time when someone misunderstood what you were attempting to communicate to them • Tell me about a time when you worked with people from a culture unlike your own. What did you do to overcome any perceived barriers to communication? • Have you ever dealt with customers that are in the wrong? Give me a specific example and the outcome? • What do you think that the company’s customers want? Personal Adaptability, Energy and Resilience • Tell me about a time when your work or an idea was criticised • Tell me about a time when you felt frustrated by your work. • Describe something creative that you’ve done. • What has been your most satisfying/ disappointing experience? • What are your strengths? • What are your weaknesses? • Tell me about a time when things were particularly hectic? How did you feel? •What steps did you take to deal with the pressure? www.sigmar.ie8
  9. 9. Self-management, Self-motivation and Self- knowledge • What have you done that shows initiative and willingness to work? • What are the two most significant accomplishments in your career so far? • What do you expect to be earning in 5 years? • In the past year, what have you been dissatisfied about in your performance? • What motivates you to put forth your greatest effort? Administrative Skills • Tell me how you organise your work and schedule your time Problem Solving and Decision Making • Tell me about a difficult decision that you have made. • Tell me about a time when you had conflicting priorities and what you did to resolve them. Conflict Management and Ethics • Tell me about a difficult customer or a customer complaint that you have dealt with. • How do you resolve conflict in the groups or teams that you have membership of? Personal and Career Objectives • What are your short and long-term goals? • When and why did you establish these goals and how are you preparing yourself to achieve them? • What do you see yourself doing 5 years from now? Knowledge of the Organisation and Role • What skills and personal qualities are essential for success in this role? • Why did you apply for this position? • What do you know about our industry? • What do you know about our organisation? Ability, Competence and Achievement • What two or three accomplishments have given you the most satisfaction? Why? • Tell us about a time when you had more to do than you could complete in the time allocated: tell us what you did about it and what the outcome was. • What are your strengths? • What are your weaknesses? Stress Questions • Describe a time you failed. • How do you react to stress? Ending • What your notice period is and salary expectations? • Are you looking at other roles at present? • What questions do you have for us? 9www.sigmar.ie
  10. 10. Post Interview The post-interview process should consist, of the following elements: 1. Record your observations Immediately after each interview, take time to summarize the observations made during the course of the interview. Note your observations right away, so you can assess each candidate more objectively against the requirements of the job and not subjectively against the preceding or succeeding candidates. 2. Narrow the field After you have interviewed all the scheduled candidates and before you make your final hiring decision, narrow the field to those you would consider hiring for the position. Don’t centre all consideration around one person and exclude all others from contention, because if your first choice turns down the position, you may have trouble remembering the merits of the other candidates. 3. Make the hiring decision Review all the information you have obtained on the candidates. Consider the following factors in arriving at your final decision: • Ability to do the work. • Interest in doing the job. • Potential for growth. • Ability to adjust to the job environment. After careful thought, make the decision to hire or not to hire. A valid selection occurs when the “merit and fitness” of the candidate are the primary determining factors in the decision. Inform the Personnel Officer of your choice. 4. Notify the selected candidate 5. Notify unsuccessful candidates Good personnel practice and common courtesy require that you inform candidates not selected of your decision and thank them for their interest. www.sigmar.ie10
  11. 11. Sigmar Recruitment are a wholly Irish owned company with offices in Dublin, Cork, Galway and Warsaw. Sigmar has been recognised as “ Recruitment Agency of the Year” (2014 & 2013) by the National Recruitment Federation awards due to our client delivery success, candidate experience and our innovative methodologies. We have 100 specialist recruiters specialising in the following areas: Accountancy, Banking & Financial Services, Construction & Property, Engineering, HR, IT, Insurance, Legal, Marketing, Pharmaceutical, Office Administration & Support, Multilingual, Sales and Supply Chain. Contact our team on +353 1 4744600, email info@sigmar.ie or tweet us @SigmarIrl For more employer resources visit www.sigmar.ie/employers

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