While the interviewee might be shaking in their boots, it may not be as daunting for the one asking the questions… unless you haven’t properly prepared. You might know what candidate you are looking for, but do you know which interview questions you should ask to find them?
Think of an interview like a football match: It all starts with some pre-game preparation for both teams – the interview preparation. Then all those taking part need to warm up – the introduction. Once the game kicks off it can take some time for the players to get stuck in – the general questions. Pressure heats up in the second half and play gets more interesting – the technical questions. Then the final whistle blows and players shake hands and head off for a cool down and debrief – the conclusion. Follow our three steps for a winning interview.
Step one: The introduction
First the pre-game preparation: both parties will have done their research before the interview. As an employer you should be prepared with the candidate’s CV at hand and your questions ready.
The start of the interview can be challenging for both employers and interviewees. It’s up to you to set the right tone – or to warm up properly. To do this you should introduce yourself and your role in the company as well as any other colleagues present. You could also go on to explain how the interview will be structured. Our advice is to avoid talking about the role or your company – the right candidate should have already done their research and have knowledge on both.
The warm up can give a candidate the chance to ease their nerves and relax before the questions get started.
Step two: The question structure
The question structure of an interview is the football match from start to end. You need a plan and structure with your set plays ready to go.
So to get going we suggest general and non-technical questions. You can work your way towards the second half of more specific questions as you and your candidate ‘get stuck in’.
These general questions are useful to reveal their suitability for the role and your company. They can be CV-based, about your company and about their personality. Here are some examples:
- Talk us through your CV.
- Why is your experience relevant to this role?
- What makes you right for our company?
- Why are you interested in our company?
- What do you like to do in your free time?
- What is your best attribute?
During the second half you might introduce new game plays. These plays being job-specific and industry-based questions. These type of questions should be designed to test how the candidate works and their passion for the role. Here are some examples:
- What new skills are you hoping to learn with this role?
- What have you read recently about our industry?
- How do you stay up to date on industry news?
- What are your long-term career ambitions?
Remember that graduate roles tend not to have clear-cut requirements. So you want to find out if they are proactive and willing to learn.
The match can get more interesting by using job-specific questions. These questions should be more technical to show the candidate’s genuine knowledge of the industry, role and your company all in one. For example in marketing you might want to test their keyword knowledge and SEO or PPC techniques.
Step three: The Conclusion
The final whistle has blown and both teams can breathe. Time for the players to shake hands. As the interview concludes it is up to the employer to set the final tone. This is when we suggest you explain the post-interview process to the candidate. You should include an idea of when you will complete your interviews and when they might expect to hear back from you. It is important to be clear with time frames so candidates can proceed accordingly.
Don’t forget to ask the candidate if they have any questions. Their questions can reveal a lot about their intentions in the role and how much they want it.
Finally, your post-match debrief should involve making detailed notes of your final thoughts and impressions of the candidate. These notes will come in particularly handy when it comes to the final decision.