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Preparing for the Interview

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on 24 November 2014

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Transcript of Preparing for the Interview

Preparing for the Interview
Positive Spin
"Most organisations experience a period of bad publicity - and you may still need to recruit during this period.

If a candidate asks you a direct question about what caused the situation, be clear and positive. Tell them what you know and all that they need to know. The candidate will need reassurance that you organisation is still a good place to work."
Practise giving a positive description of the vacancy and the company in five minutes.
Two's Company
What Do You Need to Know beforehand?
Next Steps
If You Don't Know the Answer?
What Is Your Evidence?
What Are Your Looking For?
Setting the Scene
What to Take in With You
Who Will Give the Tour?
Look for Gaps
Check Out the Specifics
Know Your Questions
Think about how you would put a positive spin to some of the situation in which your organisation has been involved.
If the candidate doesn't ask, always let them know what the next steps will be. If it is a further interview, let them know by which date they will be notified, if they have been selected - or not. If it is testing or some other form of assessment - let them know and be clear that they will be given more details if they are asked back.
Thinking about your next interview, answer the question, "What are the next steps?"
If you don't know the answer to a question, the worst thing you could do is to bluff your way to an answer. If the candidate has asked this question for a purpose - they may pursue this line of questioning until you have to admit that you don't know any more. The best course of action is to say that you don't know and say that you will get back to them directly.
Think about some of the questions you may be asked and ensure that you are able to answer them.
Before commencing an interview, ensure that you decide which competencies are being assessed. These are the skills, or behaviours, that you are looking for in the successful candidate.

Examples are; decision making, team player, communication skills, relationship building.

Once you have identified these, you should design your questions to explore them in more detail.
What question would you ask to explore decision making?
There is nothing worse than starting an interview and then realising that you don't have any of the things you need. So things to take with you are: application, job description, interview questions, test questions, presentation topic, competency definitions, organisational chart and pen and paper.
Is there anything else you would take that has not been included here?
You need to be able to give a summary of what your organisation is about and have some idea about future strategy. You need to be able to sell the organisation and the role to the candidate. You should have a sound knowledge of the vacancy and why it has arisen. You need to have read the candidate's application and be clear on any specific areas that you need to address. Make sure you've got all the necessary paperwork to hand - interview question sheets, application forms, etc.
Practise giving a five minute positive summary of your organisation and how the vacancy fits within it.
An interviewer should give an outline of which topics will be covered: timings, who will do what and in which order. In this way, everyone knows what will happen next.

Tell the candidate at the beginning how you will structure the interview and how long it will take. If you are to be joined by other interviewers, let the candidate know, so they will not be surprised.
Think about the preferred order in which you would like to interview the candidate. Practice setting the scene for the interview - get some feedback as to whether you are clear.
"Knowing what you are looking for in a candidate is something you should know before starting the interview. We call these negative and positive indicators. Using these as your measures means that your interview process is fair and consistent.

A positive indicator for decision-making could be ""looks for the pros-and-cons of a situation"", whilst a negative indicator may be, ""jumps to conclusions""."
Think of the positive and negative indicators for communication skills.
Your interview questions should be designed to enable you to explore the competencies in more detail.

Ensure that you have a script of the questions for each interview campaign. This will ensure that you get a consistent picture of each candidate.
Think about your next interview - what are the competencies that you will be assessing?
When there is more than one interviewer, agree beforehand who will lead the interview, which questions will be asked by whom and who will outline the job and give details about the company.

Also agree a process for interjection - for example, you may agree that one person will lead the questions and give the other an opportunity to ask anything missed at the end of each one.
What other guidelines might be important to agree?
When reading though an application, always look for gaps in-between jobs. If there is a gap, ask a direct question, "there appears to be a gap here - can you tell me a bit more about this?" In some cases, it is an administrative mistake - this may reflect a lack of attention to detail. In others, it can be a gap in employment - travelling, or some other reason. Whatever the case, make a note of the gap and the reason.
Some gaps can be invisible if only the years of employment are noted - not the months of joining. Always check which months a person started employment.
Most applications will contain details of qualifications, including date taken and results. If a degree is listed but no class/grade is - ask directly, "What was the result?" In some cases, candidates will note in their application a degree or course they have started but, but not finished - which can be misleading. As they have not put a class, they believe this is okay. You need to check this detail out at the beginning of the interview, making sure all is clear.
Qualifications can appear anywhere in an application - sometimes buried further in the application. Always take time to ensure that you are clear what qualifications the candidate has passed if they are required by the post holder.
Most candidates are keen to know what the working environment is like and where, if successful, they could be sitting. A tour around the offices or sites is a good way to show the candidate what an excellent place your organisation is to work. If you do take the candidate on a tour - make sure the members of your team are aware and ready to talk to the candidate if the occasion arises.
Think about your own offices, or site - are there any changes you would make to ensure the surroundings are attractive to a potential new employee?
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