Hiring is a challenging task. Successful hiring helps the company in getting good talent, which can be instrumental in shaping the future of the company. A team of talented individuals working together is a great asset for growing a company.
Interviewing is an important tool to check the personal and professional qualities of manpower coming to join the company. It should be done very carefully and with proper planning. If there are too many candidates, it is advisable to screen the candidates through one or more tests. Another method to check the candidates’ behavior in a group setting is to hold a group discussion among them before tests or interviews.
Preparation Before and While Conducting Interviews
Prepare a list of candidates to be interviewed. Give the candidates time slots as per the approximate time required per candidate. Unless we have a group discussion or mass tests as a part of the evaluation process, don’t call all the candidates together. They should be called as per their scheduled time slot.
Inform the candidates well in advance about the date, time and place of the interview.
Tell them which documents they should bring, the entire process of the interviews and tests and how much approximate time the process may take.
Also, give them travel directions to reach the venue, if required.
Get a confirmation from the candidates whether they are coming for the interview or not.
Decide a peaceful place where the interviews will be taken. Reserve that place, if needed. (Meeting rooms in companies are a shared resource, and are booked by various departments as per need.)
Try to start and end the interviews as per the time slot.
Make sure that the candidates are taken care of and are properly guided throughout the interview and tests process and during the waiting periods in between.
If the interview and tests process takes a long time, also arrange for the food for the candidates as per the time of day.
These days, human resources are treated as a very important component in the success of any company and hence, this first interaction with the candidates (who may become future employees) must be handled with utmost care, because this builds the image of the company or its employer brand.
The Interview Panel
Form the selection panel which will conduct the interviews.
At least two people must be present in the interview panel while interviewing any candidate. For senior positions, three or more interviewers are advisable.
One person from HR and one or more persons from the respective department in which the new employee will be added should be there on the interview panel.
Sometimes, some external expert, consultant or advisor is also called for interviewing purpose.
Inform the interviewing panel about the interviews schedule and provide them with copies of the job descriptions and resumes of candidates, well in advance.
Everybody on the interview panel must be aware of the job requirements of the position for which the interviews are held.
Give an Interview Evaluation Form to be filled by each interviewer for each candidate. They can fill the same as a team also, in a single form.
In the end, the interview panel must give their verdict about each candidate interviewed, whether she is Shortlisted, Rejected or Put on Hold etc.
The Interview Process
Make the candidate comfortable.
Try to find out the skills, knowledge, experience and competencies of the candidate with respect to the job in question.
The questions should try to find out the suitability of the candidate for the Job Description.
Along with that, we should try to find out her attitude, motivation, drives and likings.
Also we must try to find out her suitability to work in a team, her emotional maturity and stability.
If the job involves supervising or managing others, we must check her leadership competencies as well.
Ask her about her strengths and weaknesses.
We should find out her family information (i.e. who is there in the family, their occupation etc.) to find out her background, family responsibilities and support structure.
In addition to the job specific questions, following are some general questions which may be used as per the situation:
- Tell us something about your career so far.
- Describe your achievements in your various job assignments.
- What challenges you in a job?
- What puts you off in a job?
- What is the reason to leave the current job?
- What was the reason for joining it when you joined it?
- How do you explain so many job changes in quick succession? (This applies if the person has changed too many jobs in the past.)
- Which new skills or competencies have you added beyond your academic qualification and how?
- How do you handle difficult situations or people?
- How soon can you join?
For screening the candidates, only interviews are not sufficient sometimes.
Taking personal interviews takes a lot of time. If the number of candidates is big, the preliminary screening can be done by some tests.
For many functions where the actual skills or attitude of the candidate have to match our minimum requirement, tests are required for checking the candidates’ suitability.
Generally, two types of tests are used: 1) Personality assessment tests 2) Job skills tests
Personality assessment (like psychometric) tests are undertaken to assess the skills, knowledge, abilities, attitudes, personality traits and behavioral preferences of the candidates.
Such tests can be conducted at our premises, at some professional test centers or online also. There are some web sites which offer such tests. We can use this facility and guide the candidate to take the online test before coming for an interview. Based on the result of such tests, we can screen the candidates and prepare a shortlist for the interviews.
Ideally, job skills tests should be conducted at our premises.
The tests can happen before or after the interview, based on our evaluation process. If the tests result is the basis of the interview, it should be held first.
For a job skills test, a test paper or assignment must be prepared and kept ready with the help of the department for which we are trying to select people. Some examples of job skill tests:
- Whether an accounts person possesses sufficient level of expertise in accounting or its software.
- If the job is for something technical, like software, appropriate tests are a must to ensure the necessary skill level.
- If the job involves using some machine or equipment, a test is designed to check their skill level in operating that.
- Handwriting analysis is also used by many companies for understanding their personality types and attitude.
Telephonic or Video Interviews
If the candidate is from another city or country and we wish to screen him before calling for a personal interview, a phone or video interview should be tried.
Exact date and time of such an interview must be fixed and communicated to both, the candidate and the interview panel.
Test the communication equipment before the interview.
If the interview is being conducted on phone, the phone must be kept on speaker mode, unless only one person is conducting such an interview.
Introduce the panel members to the candidate before starting the phone or video interview.
Determining Interview Levels / Rounds
For junior positions, generally one level of interview and test is sufficient.
For middle and senior positions, two or sometimes three level interviews are organized.
For senior positions, it is advisable to have two or more interviews, preferably on different days at different locations. This will enable us to know the same person in different situations which will help us to understand him better.
For technical positions, generally the interviews are taken in two rounds. First, the technical round where their technical skills are checked. Here, the result of the technical test given to the candidate is examined and cross checked. Next is the HR round where the candidates’ personal attributes, attitude, temperament, communication skills etc. are checked. The HR round is generally conducted for those candidates who have cleared the technical screening round. However, the order may vary as per the company’s requirement, evaluation criteria and preferences.
The final shortlisting or selection should be done based on the results of each level of interview and tests.