Awkwardness of Interviews

Despite the potential awkwardness of interviews, they are generally considered an integral part of the recruiting process

Are you an employer looking for a sparky new talent to join your team? Perhaps you’re feeling some trepidation about meeting and assessing candidates?

Rest assured that embarking on the interview process for a new job vacancy can be a stressful experience for hiring managers and job seekers alike. While wannabe employees will be concerned about selling themselves appropriately and avoiding any embarrassing interview mishaps, employers will do everything they can to ensure they recruit someone talented and up for the job.

Despite the potential awkwardness of interviews, they are generally considered an integral part of the recruiting process. As well as allowing hiring managers to test an individual job seeker and verify their credentials, the interview stage represents the perfect opportunity for both parties to ascertain whether they are well-matched in terms of values and expectations. In fact, it is easy for employers to forget that it is well within the rights of a candidate to reject a job offer based on the demeanor of their interviewer or the vision of the company in question.

Of course, the time constraints of today’s hectic professional world mean that interviews often last no more than 30 minutes – nowhere near enough time to fully appreciate the caliber of a prospective employee. As a result, most employers host at least two rounds of interviews before selecting a candidate, with some stretching as far as ten rounds1 and beyond. 

Hosting this many interview sessions does nobody any favours. Firstly, it disrespects jobseekers by asking them to give up a huge amount of their own time to suit the whims of an employer. Remember that the people applying for advertised vacancies may not have a paycheck coming in and could be facing financial hardship. Dragging out the recruiting process only makes this problem worse and, if the candidate is not selected, adds insult to injury. 

Secondly, it takes up the precious time of the interviewer. Conducting any more than three (or, occasionally, four) interviews will cause fatigue and is unlikely to furnish you with any additional information to help you select the best candidate. 

So, in a world in which vast pools of talented professionals are looking for work, how can you ensure your interviews are as thorough and efficient as possible?

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First things first: how NOT to conduct an interview

Before you come up with an interview strategy, make sure you read the following list of hiring mistakes – and avoid them at all costs!

Mistake #1. Asking intrusive or inappropriate questions

There are some questions you should simply never ask during a job interview, such as those related to race, gender, religion, sexuality, or sexuality. While this may seem obvious, it is all too easy to ask overfamiliar questions if the candidate is very friendly and open, or while making small talk before the interview officially starts. 

Remember that asking about a person’s private life can cause unconscious bias. If a woman reveals that she has a young child, for example, employers may be reluctant to hire her even if she is clearly the best candidate for the role. What’s more, this kind of discrimination is actually illegal. To avoid costly lawsuits and reputational damage, come up with a list of appropriate questions before the interview and stick to them.

Mistake #2: Presenting vastly different questions to candidates

While no two interviews are ever precisely the same, it is vital that you don’t present wildly divergent questions to every candidate. This will help to keep the playing field fair, ensure that you hire the best person for the vacancy, and is simply more ethical than asking questions at random. You may, of course, ask follow-up questions if the candidate says something relevant and intriguing that you would like to explore further. However, you must not allow the interview to veer off course and have the confidence to cut candidates off if they are talking too much.  

Mistake #3: Creating a hostile environment

Although it is important to keep things professional during a job interview, you should also do as much as possible to make your candidates feel welcome and relaxed. This will help them to think about their answers in a considered fashion and ensure you obtain the information you need to make a wise decision. Overly nervous candidates are unlikely to shine, even if they are perfect for the role.

Mistake #4: Forgetting to inform candidates about the next stages of the hiring process

Giving candidates an idea of what to expect in the days after an interview will help them to organize their time effectively and avoid any confusion. You don’t want to leave your favorite candidate in the lurch for several days, only to find that they have accepted an offer elsewhere. 

How to improve your interview strategy?

Okay, so now you know what NOT to do while interviewing potential employees, how can you enhance your recruiting strategy? Here are a few top tips:

1. Send a survey of additional questions if you need more information

You may find yourself requiring a few extra bits of information after the interview is over. If you only require some basic facts such as their current place of work, feel free to send out a survey to candidates after the interview round is over. 

2. Embrace the convenience of technology

Conducting interviews over the phone or using video conferencing technology is becoming very common. As well as saving time and money for all parties, it is a great way of reducing unconscious biases that may arise during in-person meetings. 

3. Take comprehensive notes

No matter how impressive your memory, you are unlikely to remember every interesting point that a candidate makes, particularly if you are conducting several interviews in quick succession. Jot down notes while your candidates answer questions, making sure to stay as attentive as possible at the same time. 

4. Consider a Trial-Hire2

If you’re hiring a candidate for a highly skilled role, it may be worth hiring them on a trial basis. Sometimes, the interview process is simply not rigorous enough to determine whether a candidate has the skills necessary to fulfil the demands of the job. 

Of course, if you decide to hire someone on a trial basis, you must be upfront about this throughout the recruitment process, so candidates know what to expect. This means stipulating your terms in the job listing and providing your new hire with details such as how long the trial period will last and the measures you will be using to assess their performance. It is also important to make the new employee feel welcome and integrated into the team, as this will help them to fulfil their potential.

5. Encourage the candidate to ask questions

Encouraging candidates to ask questions at the end of an interview will give them a clearer idea about your company culture and could boost the likelihood that they accept your job offer. It may also help you to determine their level of interest in the role. If they don’t have any questions at all, they may be more motivated by a high salary or generous holiday allowances than a desire to join your team. 

As you can see, conducting job interviews requires forethought and sensitivity.

While testing and selecting candidates does not have to be difficult, you must prepare your questions carefully and do everything you can to make interviewees feel comfortable, particularly if you are hiring for an entry-level position. By getting these basics right, you stand a great chance of hiring a wonderful new employee who adds real value to your company. 

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