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Tips for conducting interviews

Before you meet your candidates check out our advice on what to do before, during and after an interview.

Before the interview

To make sure both you and your candidates get the most out of the interview, it is always helpful to provide a clear agenda for any interviews well in advance.

Some things you should provide in your invitation to interview:

  • clear instructions on how and when to attend, whether that's a digital link or directions to an office
  • an overview of any company dress codes and health and safety requirements if the interview is in person
  • the proposed duration of the interview and an agenda e.g. 5 minute introductions, 25 minute questions for the candidate, 10 minute candidate's questions, 5 minutes AOB, 1 hour take away task
  • the schedule of the whole interview process, including how many stages there are and when they can expect communication from you
  • notice of your decision to use a specific style of questioning or vetting e.g. lots of critical thinking or problem solving questions
  • any questions that you would like the candidate to consider in advance

When thinking of questions to ask or areas to explore, it's more useful to examine what you actually need from the role, your company culture, and your own experience working for the company than it is to reach for external metrics of 'successful candidates' like aptitude tests, trick questions/riddles, or other abstracted, so-called 'universal' questions. These don't just tell you very little about your candidate and their suitability for the role - you also have to spend extra time figuring out how to interpret the answers! They also make the process more biased.

Interview tasks

If you will be giving them a task to complete, check that they have the relevant software or materials. Try not to give tasks that require resources they may not have access to e.g. Adobe Creative Cloud.

If you ask the candidate to complete a test or example task, please make sure it takes no longer than an hour and that the whole interview process is no more than 24 hours of their time total. If you need a more extensive task completed or plan on a longer or more intense interview process, please consider paying the candidate for their time.

During the interview

Please always follow the government guidelines for avoiding discrimination in recruitment, including never asking about protected characteristics, even if the candidate themselves brings it up.

Unless you are recruiting for a very particular type of role, deliberately under-preparing your candidate to 'see how they perform under pressure' or 'test' their willingness to endure discomfort for their job is only going to communicate to your applicant that unreasonable expectations are the norm in your organisation.

Remember - an interview is as much about convincing Young Talent that they should work with you as it is about them convincing you!

After the interview

It should go without saying but you should inform all the candidates of the status of their application as promptly as possible.

Offer feedback to each interviewee and if they haven't been successful this time encourage them to apply for roles at your organisation in future.

Internally review your interview tactics and what you gained from them. Did you find it easy to find out what you needed? Did you feel comfortable and positive? Did the candidates bring up any issues or questions you weren't prepared for?

Evolving your interview process in response to your experience will make you more effective at hiring, and make the whole process less stressful for you and your potential candidates!