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How do I organise and carry out an interview to successfully hire my first employee?


It is essential to work out interview questions and who will be main interviewer beforehand

It is essential to work out interview questions and who will be main interviewer beforehand

It is essential to work out interview questions and who will be main interviewer beforehand

Query: I am looking to hire my first employee. I have previously sat in on interviews as a candidate, which is a different situation entirely. Do you have tips for me to implement?

Answer: Recruiting an employee who best matches your requirements is key to successfully achieving your company's goals. Selection must be based on the best fit with the requirements of the role and the organisation. Effective profiling of the role and the candidates is essential. Getting it wrong will cost you time, money and energy.

Organising the Interview

It is your responsibility to ensure that the interview process is managed in a professional and structured manner. A suitable venue should be booked with an appropriately-sized room and it should be set up accordingly. Anything that could distract the interviewee should be removed. You must also ensure that candidates are given adequate notice of the interview process. The interview panel [if applicable] should have agreed the format of the interview in advance. Questions should cover key competencies required.

Preparing For The Interview

This involves reviewing the candidate's application in detail and following your pre-organised interview questions. There needs to be a clear structure to the interview. The following should be considered:

  • Start and finish time of the interview;
  • Who is the main interviewer?
  • Will you have another person sit in with you who has the technical ability/professional skills you are looking for?
  • Who is taking notes? Are both interviewers taking notes?
  • Who is asking what specific questions?
  • The process of selection - how you will rank candidate answers against others?

Take time to prepare the above so that you are clear on the format.

Interview Format

The interview should start on time and should open with introductions. You should establish a rapport with the candidate and put them at ease and also explain that you will be taking interview notes.

Move on to cover employment background, education, personal strengths, weaknesses, etc.

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At the end of the interview check that all areas that you had planned to cover were covered. Discuss any questions with the candidate to ensure that they got a fair and comprehensive interview.

The key thing to ensure is that key information is not missed during the interview.

Never cut an interview short even if you feel the candidate is unsuccessful, as the candidate would then have grounds to say that they received an unfair interview.

Questioning Techniques

Each candidate should be asked the same set of questions to ensure that there can be no claim of unfair treatment should a dispute about the interview process arise. Certain types of questions are better than others when obtaining information.

n Ask open questions and avoid leading questions;

n Behavioural-based questions help the interviewer to evaluate candidates fairly and improve the match between people and jobs. The purpose of behavioural-based questions is to identify how a potential new employee would act in future situations. Behavioural questions are often open-ended;

n Competency questions usually form the latter part of interviews and they involve a combination of knowledge, skills and behaviours that provide a description of what a person needs to do in order to carry out his/her job efficiently. They provide a clear guide for giving and collecting information about positions and job applicants.

Don't focus solely on the interview, consider all sources of candidate information for example the CV, any recruitment test information, interactions before/after interviews, supporting materials, presentation and performance during the interview.

  • Caroline McEnery, managing director of The HR Suite is also author of The Art of Asking the Right Questions, a manager's toolkit on all HR-related tips to proactively manage your team

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