Guide: How to prepare and conduct an effective interview

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Whether you are conducting a virtual or face-to-face interview, have a look at our guide to see what to consider when it comes to interviewing candidates. 
Interviews are a two-way process. In a market where there are skill shortages, it is important that you ‘sell’ your job opportunity to the candidate and highlight the benefits of joining your company. 


Key points: 

So, let’s start with the basics – how long should an interview ideally be? We believe that 45 minutes is a sufficient amount of time to carry out your interview, obviously this can vary depending on the role and candidate but this is a good ballpark time to follow. Plus, if you think that there is more to discuss, this is most probably a good indication that you should carry out further stages in your interview process. 

Don’t oversell the role – This is super important to keep in mind during the interview as it will become very obvious later down the line if you do. Be realistic and set a clear picture, so the candidate really knows what to expect if they are successful. 

Form a structure and be consistent – When interviewing multiple candidates for the same role, make sure you create and stick to the same process and ask similar questions so you can compare answers. You should also adapt your structure to every role that you are recruiting for, even if some of them are similar. 

If there is more than one manager/team member conducting the interviews, make sure you prepare this information with them beforehand so you are consistent in your approach and preparation. 



Let’s cover some points to consider and follow during the preparation process. 

What do you already know about the candidates? Make sure you take the time to read through the CVs again before the interviews and write some notes to go with each one so you have some clear prompts on what you want to discuss. 

Where are they taking place? Prepare your set up (whether it’s in-person or via video) so you have everything you need beforehand. If you are conducting virtual interviews, make sure you test the technology and software beforehand and send any online invites/location details well in advance so your candidates are aware of what to expect.  

Do you have enough information to talk about your company? During the interview you should be able to discuss information about your company to create a clear picture, including the mission, values, team structure and benefits, so make sure you know these beforehand. 

Do you know what the whole job description entails? And, most importantly, can you talk through it confidently? You will need to refer to this a lot during the interview, so make sure you know it inside-out. Also, figure out what it is that you are looking for. Your job description should have some key skills and attributes that you are looking for in your new employee so make sure you discuss these. However, bear in mind that it’s good to speak to candidates to see if they can offer a fresh perspective and not just someone who is the ‘right fit’ for your team. 


The interview layout:  
  1. Introduce yourself –Speak about yourself, briefly describe your role and a quick summary about your experience at the company, eg, how long have you been there etc. 
  2. Give some background – Talk about the company, role and team, this is your opportunity to sell it. Main things to mention here is company culture, team structure and the day-to-day activities.
  3. Refer to the CV – Next, a good way to initiate the interview process is by asking the candidate to talk through their CV/work experience, where they’ve been working, what they’ve been doing etc.  
  4. Ask both generic and specific questions – A good mix of questions is great so you can see if the candidate is not only right for the role, but also for your team. Therefore, ask behavioural-based questions and ones specific to tasks and projects to find out more about their skill set and experience. 
  5. Get ready to answer some questions yourself – Next, you should ask the candidate if they have any questions about the role, the team or company so be prepared to answer them in detail and be consistent if the same ones come up with other candidates.  
  6. Let them know what happens next and provide feedback afterwards – To finish off the process, let the candidate know what to expect next. Once the interview is done, have feedback ready to give to your recruitment consultant (if you’re working with one) so they know what to pass on to the candidate about the outcome of the interview. Try and be specific and detail what went well and what didn’t so it is constructive. 


What else is there to consider as part of the process?  

Have a look as some of our things to consider during the interview process below:  

Timings of interviews – When organising interviews, can you do them out of usual/traditional hours to accommodate candidates? Eg, evenings/weekends? There could be many reasons as to why people may not be able to attend interviews during usual business hours, so make sure you give the opportunity to carry out interviews to suit them.  

Consider video interviews – Do you need to interview your candidate in person? Especially for the first-round interviews? If you are going to carry out interviews on-site, think about barriers that may stop applicants from being able to attend them, eg, expense issues and childcare etc. If they can be replaced by video interviews, they try and do this. It breaks down location barriers and saves time for all parties involved. For more information and tips on video interviews, click here.   

Key stakeholders – Who will be the key stakeholders in the interview process? Are they representative of the whole business?  

Be human – Understand that if you do carry out video interviews that you are most likely going to meet people in their own homes, albeit virtually. For example, if you hear children in the background, the door bell ringing, a dog barking, this is completely fine and should not make a difference to the outcome of the interview.   


If you would like to find out any more information on conducting interviews or would like our team to help you with your next hire, please contact us on [email protected]. 

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