How to run insightful interviews that identify the best fit candidates

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February 2020

Written by Adam Richardson (adam.richardson@arresourcing.com), Managing Director and Owner of AR Resourcing. Adam has 20 years’ experience recruiting preconstruction, procurement and commercial professionals across the built environment industries.

With good candidates in short supply in recent years, many companies have condensed their recruitment processes to maximise the chances of offering their preferred candidate before someone else does. However, a compact recruitment process should not compromise its thoroughness. Rather you should attract better quality candidates and reduce the total time spent on hiring due to fewer false starts.

WHY A SHORT PROCESS RESULTS IN BETTER CANDIDATES

Good candidates are rarely on the market for long in the current environment so by the time protracted, or even standard length, recruitment processes finish the best candidates have often accepted offers elsewhere. Furthermore an efficient process portrays the organisation as dynamic and decisive giving candidates reassurance that they are making a good decision by accepting your offer. 

STRUCTURING INTERVIEW PROCESSES

The most common reason interview processes become protracted is the availability of key decision makers. To run a successful, condensed recruitment process, block out interviewing and feedback time in the diary of all key decision makers before advertising the role. If a key individual isn’t available question whether they could participate remotely (i.e. a skype interview), whether anyone else can step in for them or whether you should delay the interview period.

PLAN THE INTERVIEWS

When interviews are days apart interviewers have time to take stock before filling in gaps at the second round interview. In condensed processes with all interviews in one day or possibly a week, ensuring the interviews are structured and co-ordinated to examine all key areas of the candidate’s skills, experience and fit systematically becomes crucial. Each interviewer should have a remit of what they are supposed to be probing and an understanding of what other interviewers will be looking at, even sharing questions in advance reduces repetition, to avoid repetition or gaps in your understanding of their skills. An in-tray or case study exercise done in advance or on the day will often provide insights and areas for discussion that would otherwise be missed.

During the interviews, the interviewer should particularly ask what the candidate has previously achieved and how they did it. Encourage the candidate to talk about what they did and the impact it had rather than talking in broad terms about the team’s achievement. Go into detail about how they approached different challenges as this will give a real indication of their personality and approach as well as potentially uncovering areas where they are exaggerating their role. The more examples you extract the better.

When considering the candidates cultural fit, interviewers need to understand that they are looking for how effective the candidate’s personality and style will be to achieving the objectives of the role rather than how well they will fit in. This is particularly important when the role needs to instigate changes.

SELL THE ROLE AND COMPANY

Given the candidate shortage in many sectors, good candidates are likely to receive multiple offers. The most successful interviewers probe candidates about what they are looking for from a company and role before highlighting how this opportunity fits with that wish-list.

Condensing interview processes takes time, energy and planning up front but you will find that you get better candidates accepting offers, the team spends less time finding and interviewing candidates and the business does better as a result long term.

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