Conducting your interview 

In an interview, there’s a balance to be struck between trying to be too clever or being so simplistic that your 5-year-old child could answer them! 
The lurch towards random questions, (if you were a piece of fruit what would you be?), has gathered pace. Such questions may be useful when used as a quasi-competency based question to discover the “real” person. However, pointless random questions, can lead you to exactly the wrong candidate – someone capable of answering this type of questions who cannot do your job! Remember, if the questions you ask aren't probing the skills you need, what is the point?  
With this in mind, it’s a good idea to have a mixture of competency and non-competency based questions. As the interviewer, avoid talking too much; we’d ideally like the candidate to spend 80% of the interview talking and remember the sage advice of Earl Nightingale, “…the most important piece of information, is that which isn’t being said!” 

Part one: What has the candidate done and what do they know? 

This part of the interview can last between ten and thirty minutes depending on the depth of experience of the candidate. It also serves to relax the candidate as they should be answering easy questions about their own curriculum vitae. 

Part two: Competency based questions linked to the skills you require 

This part of the interview is designed to be more challenging but it shouldn’t deviate too much from the 80/20 split discussed above. 
Competency-based questions can provide you with an insight into how a candidate might perform any given task and whether they’ve got the background and skills you’re looking for. It’s also possible to gauge their strengths and weaknesses through their answers by assessing if they demonstrate a willingness to learn, an ability to perform or, if they show a negative approach towards a specific task or environment. 

Typical competency based questions are: 

Tell us about your biggest failure. How did you recover and what have you learnt? 
Describe the biggest challenge in your career. How did you overcome it? 
When did you last upset someone? 
Describe a situation in which you were a member of team. What did you contribute? 
When have you made a decision too quickly and got it wrong. What made you take that decision? 
Describe a situation when you were asked to do something that you had never attempted previously. 
The list of questions is not exhaustive and you can adjust them to whatever skills and behaviours your role demands. But remember to keep your questions relevant so that they test the skills your job actually requires. 

What should you be doing when the interviewee is talking? 

Once the candidate has answered your initial question, probe with follow on questions such as “how did you do that?”, “what did you do next?”, “what else did you do or consider doing?”, “what happened next?” 
Listen out for questions not being answered, or answers that seem pre-rehearsed. This can mean the candidate hasn't done the task they are describing. Someone who has completed a task should be convincing. 
Watch body language. 
Relentlessly ask yourself the same question: “Is this the absolute best person I can recruit for this job, at this time?” 

Other useful questions 

What is the proudest moment of your career? 
What do you think your strengths are? 
What do you think the biggest misconceptions about you are? 
These questions give you opportunities to probe further with your who, what, when, how, which and why questions. 
Avoid pointless questions and if in any doubt ask the candidate to try and solve a current problem in your company, this too will give you lots of opportunities to assess their decision making processes, listening skills, and communication skills. 

And finally... 

Remember to sell your role to the candidate. Your job is to impress upon the candidate how great your company is going to be with them in it, and how your company will meet their expectations (which you need to clearly understand). 

Do you want to attract more talented employees? 

Established in 2003 Ascendant Recruitment is a leading independent recruitment consultancy based in and covering Milton Keynes. We will introduce you to the best employees in the area. 
We recruit for office, sales and marketing, finance, and HR jobs. Whether you are looking for a temporary or permanent solution, we can help you. 
If you’d like Ascendant Recruitment to help you find new talent for your business, please contact us on 01908 200270 or email [email protected] 
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