Top 10 Tips On How To Conduct Great Job Interviews [Video]

Written by Andrew Nicholas on Feb 24, 2016

You've been sent the shortlist for your vacancy and you're excited to meet some of the prospective candidates. But what's the best way to conduct your interview? As an executive recruitment firm our consultants have conducted thousands of interviews over the years, where they assess the merits of each candidate to decide who best fits the client's needs. We asked ten of our practice heads what their top tip is for conducting an interview.


1. Think Of The Dynamics Of Multiple Interviews

When you are trying to attract top talent into your organisation, you need to ensure that the dynamics of your interview are set up correctly. In your first interview, you should be selling the role and the opportunity and the business to the candidate. By the second stage, they actually become much more 50/50. By the third stage, the candidate should be selling back to you how they are going to make an impact on your business.

2. Use A Score Card And Don't Give Away What You're Looking For

There's a tendency for the interviewer to spend the first ten minutes talking around what they're actually looking for in the role, so don't give away too much away early on in the interview otherwise they will then just tell you what they know you want to hear! Also make sure you have a structure for the interview. Know what you're looking to find out from the candidates and create a score card which uses a consistent scoring mechanism. Using a score card can help ensure you and the other interviewers are evaluating candidates on a consistent basis.

3. Think About Your Environment

Make sure the interview is a relaxed and comfortable environment as not only will this help you build trust with the candidate which will help them open up to you, but also remember that if it comes to an offer then you want to make sure the person is going to be keen to work for you so it's important to build that personal connection early on in the interview process. 

The interview is an opportunity for you to assess the competence, drive and behaviours of your candidates, but it's also a chance for you to provide them with insight into what it's like to work at your business and sell the opportunity to them.

4. Start By Asking The Candidate To Tell You A Bit About Themselves

Start by asking 'so tell me a bit about yourself'. This puts them into an unstructured situation, which means you can get some insight into how they articulate themselves and put themselves across. It also gives you insight into what they choose to talk about... do they talk about their personal life or do they talk about business background? That then lets the interview naturally progress onto topics and subjects that are of interest to both the interviewer and the candidate.

5. Use Behavioural Assessments Before The Interview Stage

We are big advocates of the use of behavioural assessments in your hiring as they can offer far more insight into how someone is likely to fit in at your business than a CV alone can provide. Research has found that organisations hire on skills, but fire on behaviours so you need to understand an individual's preferences, styles of behaviour and how this fits with the values and culture of your organisation. The key is also using this upfront as it can help you ask the right questions in the interview to interpret how that person is likely to behave and fit in at your business. 

6. Ask Why?

Keep asking 'Why?'. Go through each CV in detail and understand the drivers and the motivations for what actually happened through that persons career. Look at their education to understand insights into how they did things, why they did them and what they learned.

7. Look For Candidates With An Internal Locus Of Control

Our next interviewer tip is to look for people who have what we call an internal locus of control. Now what I mean by that is when people deliver answers, they'll do it one of two ways. They'll either show an external locus of control, which means that they blame previous failures or learnings on their boss or the economy or on the company, or they show an internal locus of control, which means that they own their part in their career journey to date. Look for people who take accountability and look for people who are able to be humble enough to learn from the things that have gone wrong as opposed to assign blame to them.

8. Follow The 80/20 Rule

Our next top tip is to always follow the 80/20 rule as an interviewer and that's spending 80% of your time listening and 20% of your time talking. Be sure that you're listening to understand and not to talk next.

9. Don't Hire Mini Me's!

Don't look for people in the same mold as yourself and beware of finding "mini me's". Diversity brings progress, and although at times it can be difficult you need to look for people who have different skills to you. Doing this ensures you are bringing in new skills sets into the organisation which can help it grow in ways it wasn't able to before.

10. Leave Time For Questions

Make sure you leave enough time at the end of the interview for the candidate to ask questions. They will have prepared for these already, so give them that opportunity to ask you the questions which will help them gain a better understanding of your ogranisation and where they see themselves fitting in. Also ensure that they are aware of what the next steps in the process will be. It's courteous and professional to keep candidates informed throughout the interview process, and you don't want the candidates that you do turn down forming a bad opinion about your business based on their experience interviewing for you.

What Next?

So those are our top 10 tips on conducting an interview which is balanced, well structured and will be beneficial to both parties. Let us know in the comments what your top interviewer tip is!

Other interesting articles:

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  • A Winning Senior Executive CV Template [Video]
    We've got in the region of 250,000 executive CVs in our global database so we have seen everything from the very good to the not so good. In this article we created a best practice example and distilled this down into a template, which will really be beneficial to anybody about to go to market or in the middle of any sort of job search activity.

  • How To Optimise Your LinkedIn Profile For Maximum Visibility
    LinkedIn is used extensively by recruiters to find talent for roles, so if you can see yourself changing jobs within the next 5 years it’s definitely worth taking the time to tweak it and maximise your visibility in the marketplace.

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