Interviews are used for everything from recruitment to new client take-on, supplier selection, research/fact findings in a disciplinary hearing, guaging opinion and talking to the media.
So it is surprising how little time we spend in trying to understand the nature of the communication that takes place in an interview, and how that understanding can be used to run them more effectively to achieve the desired objectives and make for more successful interviews.
Top tips for more successful interviews
- Identify the purpose - Remember interviews are not just held to recruit new talent. They may be used to find new clients or suppliers, conduct disciplinary hearings, gauge opinions, gather evidence, and talk to the media, etc.
- Plan and prepare - Plan and make preparations in advance. Think about who should attend, where the interview should be held, any legal issues (access, equality), the structure or format (is there anything candidates need to prepare and bring to the interview?), what questions should you ask, housekeeping and welfare, etc.
- Set ground rules, if appropriate - Communicate what provisions are available (such as access, auditory etc), timings (how long should it take?), rules on use of mobile phones and smoking, refreshments, directions, and so on.
- Use appropriate body language throughout the interview - For example, smiling, nodding, maintaining good eye contact, gestures, and mirroring. It is vital for creating rapport and establishing relationships.
- Use different questioning techniques - In order to get the information you need in the most efficient way. Questions can be used to maintain control, clarify information, show empathy, or cross-check facts. Use a mix of open and closed questions for best results.
- Give others ample opportunity to speak - Remember that interviews are a two-way process; use active listening techniques to maintain focus. Are you really listening or are you just waiting to speak? You can't guage responses if you can't recall what they said.
- Make sure your interviews are fair, consistent and free from discrimination - This can be done by using objective criteria, by making decisions solely on merit, by not making assumptions, and avoiding stereotypes and unconscious bias.
- Conclude interviews properly - By summarising, explaining the next steps, follow-up procedures, and completing any documentation.
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