Interviews are still the most critical part of the hiring process. It helps to confirm skills, check for personality and job match and past employment history to ensure you make the right hire.
Making a bad hire decision can have a considerable cost and not just in salary, customer problems, training time, time cost to rehire are just a few. So taking time to know the type applicant your after, what your going to ask/assess and how you will structure the interview will save time and money.
To help determine what key skills your answers should target, it is often useful to check an employer’s website. In the ‘about’ section of the homepage you can often find hidden gems to include in your answers. You’ll often see the values and qualities that a company looks for in its employees, by targeting these values directly within your answers, you are giving the application form markers exactly what they are looking for.
In most cases the hiring manager will need to conduct or be heavily involved in the interview. However many managers don’t know how to conduct an interview well, or don’t have the experience and confidence to do. To help we have put together some common tips and hints to make your interview process successful.
First and foremost be prepared. Create an agenda in advance and create an expected structure for the interview, including some target time limits. Aim to get feedback from staff, peers and HR to develop a suitable set of questions and topics.
Common questions and areas should cover:
- Fact Checking
- Creative or broad market / knowledge questions
- Problem solving questions / tasks or assessments
- Behavioural interview questions
Fact Checking in the interview is likely the main chance you will get to query skills, knowledge and previous work history. It’s often good to ask more detailed questions about previous experience.
Fact checking sample questions
- What did you like about the role?
- Why did you leave?
- What did you achieve and learn?
- Did you work in a team environment?
- Have you led a presentation or deal?
- Have you used these systems… and how capable are you?
Creative or broad market / industry questions help get insight into the applicants understanding of their industry changes, news and trends.
Creative / broad market sample questions
- Describe a situation in which you had to meet two different deadlines given to you by two different people and you could not do both? What did you do?
- Would you have bought Nokia if you were Microsoft? (It’s often useful to include recent industry news or changes – this is just a current sample)
- What do you see as key changes and trends that will occur in our Industry in the next five years?
Problem solving questions or tasks/quick tests are a great way to evaluate the candidate and understand how they could add value and perform in the role. For technical roles asking some specific technical questions or short test is a great way to confirm applicant skills. Role playing is also a great way to gain insight for management roles.
Problem solving / task / quick test sample questions
- Name 20 companies listed on the ASX 200? (Sample of an Industry specific question)
- How are rent or loan interest tax deductions calculated for home office expenses in Australia? (Sample of an Industry specific question)
- What’s the 180 day tax residency ruling and are there exceptions? (Sample of an Industry specific question)
- You need to draft a new employment contract for our firm. Could you list some of the key labour laws to consider? (Role specific question)
Behavioural interview questions are often seen as the most important interview question as your past behaviour is one of the best indicators on how you will perform in the future.
Behavioural sample questions
- What was your biggest accomplishment and why?
- What would you bring to our company and job?
- Why should we hire you?
- What is your career goal?
- Have you ever had a extremely fussy or rude customer? How did you react and resolve this?
- What do you consider to be a crisis?
General Interview Tips!
- A brief phone interview can be great initially for first round screening but interviews are best done in a face-to-face environment.
- Make an interview agenda. What you want to cover, what you will do, who they will meet, etc. and provide it to the candidate so they know what to expect.
- Concentrate on having open conversations rather than a direct Question and Answer approach. It’s often best just to note or remember the items you wish to cover so conversation can occur freely, reading set questions directly is not as effective as comfortable conversation.
- Try to ask open ended questions as much as possible “why”, “how”, “tell me more”, etc as these can’t be answered by a simple Yes or No.
- Make some quick brief notes on important points to follow-up on but don’t try to note down everything it will take the focus from the interview and you could miss key body language changes.
- Follow-up on items noted in the interview as soon as possible include any background confirmations / reference checks.
- Good candidates will usually send a follow-up note thanking you for the interview and opportunity.
- Pay attention to body language, attitude and actions.
- Decide on a suitable venue, depending on the role and stage of the interview a more relaxed setting can be used than a formal office setting.