The Interview 101 – essential steps if you’re new to interviewing

Posted on 08 December 2023

​You’ve done well: developed the business, successfully launched that new product, or completed the lab renovation and now it’s time to build your first team. Suddenly you realise that you’re going to be on the other side of the interview.

So, what do you need to consider when interviewing candidates?

It's important if you are a new interviewer to be well-prepared and professional, so we’ve taken the time to collate a list of some points to think about:

It’s important to:
  • Be prepared: Read the job description. It might sound obvious, but you need to understand the role you are creating and have a clear idea of what you're looking for in a candidate.

  • Set some pre-defined benchmarks so you can effectively compare the candidates after each round of interviews.

  • Create notes and comments about each candidate’s CV. You need to review them against your pre-defined benchmarks.

  • Create a structured interview format: Prepare a list of questions in advance to ensure consistency between candidates.

  • Be welcoming: On the day, create a pleasant atmosphere and start the interview with a warm greeting and some small talk.

  • Ask open-ended questions: Avoid those with simple yes/no answers, instead encourage your candidates to provide detailed answers, which helps their confidence grow during the interview.

  • Actively listen: Pay attention to responses and ask relevant follow up questions.

  • Take notes: Document key points and impressions to help later with your evaluation and to compare candidates.

  • Ensure it’s not just a friendly chat: Evaluate their abilities, skills, and qualifications relevant to the job.

  • Make sure you will work well together: Consider how well each candidate's values and personality align with the company culture and the type of team you’re trying to build.

  • Remember it’s a two-way street: Be ready to answer the candidate's questions about the role, company, and culture.

  • Give feedback: After the interview, provide constructive feedback to your peers and management.

  • Respect confidentiality: Don’t disclose the candidate's information and the interview details.

Try to avoid:
  • Preconceptions: They are misleading, so avoid notions or biases based on factors like age, gender, or race.

  • Making it all about you: Let the candidate speak and avoid interrupting.

  • Breaking the rules: Don’t ask questions related to a candidate's age, marital status, religion, or other protected characteristics.

  • Racing through: Give candidates time to think and respond to questions. Definitely don't hurry through the interview.

  • Being unprofessional: Don’t delve into personal issues or topics that don’t inform you about their ability to do the job or the suitability for the role and the team.

  • Oversharing: It's good to build a connection but avoid spilling the beans about your personal life.

  • Being critical: Always maintain a positive and respectful tone.

  • Being unrealistic: Honesty about the role and the company is best, and don't over-promise.

  • Having a closed mind: Base your evaluation on the entire interview, not just one aspect or answer.

  • Making candidates wait: After the interview, communicate as soon as possible about the next steps.

This may seem a lot to consider and it is not a comprehensive list. However, by following this approach, you will get used to conducting effective interviews that help you to successfully recruit the best candidates for each role, the team, and your company.

If Merritt Recruitment can be of any help in ensuring your interviews secure the best talent, please don't hesitate to contact us.

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