Conducting candidate interviews

Choose an appropriate and private environment for the interviews that is likely to be free from interruption. It’s a good idea to book a meeting room in advance. If you are interviewing internal candidates, consider holding the interviews off-site or online to maintain the confidentiality of the process.

Interviews should have a consistent structure that includes an opening, your interview questions, an opportunity for the candidate to ask questions, and an explanation of the next steps in the interview process.

In your opening, welcome the candidate and thank them for taking the time to meet with you. Introduce yourself and your role, along with any fellow panel members. Mention the format of the interview, including who will ask questions and how long the interview is intended to take.

Conducting virtual interviews

Virtual interviews should have the same structure as an in-person interview. When conducting virtual interviews it's important to:

  • Ensure you have a secure internet connection.
  • Test your audio and video prior to the interview.
  • Send the candidate the interview link in advance and inform them of the specific software (such as Zoom, MS Teams or Google Meet) so that they can download it, if required.

Assessing candidate interviews

You should develop a rating scale for each interview question to evaluate the answers given by each candidate during the interview. Using a consistent rating scale is the most objective way to compare answers between candidates and assess which candidate would do best in the job.

Rating scales typically have four to five rating categories associated with a numerical value. Often, organizations use scores from zero to three for each question/category, and total the result. For example:

  • 3 - Excellent: Excellent knowledge and skills
  • 2 - Above average: Above average knowledge and skills
  • 1 - Good: Good knowledge and skills
  • 0 - Poor: Inadequate knowledge and skills

Be aware of bias in the interview process

The following is a list of common biases that can occur when interviewing candidates:

Leniency/Strictness Bias
This occurs because people differ in how they evaluate people. Some are very liberal and lenient, while others are critical and demanding. This bias tends to raise or lower the scores of interviewees.
Halo Effect
Halo Effect occurs when the interviewer lets one favoured qualification, trait, or experience influence all other factors, resulting in an unduly high overall performance rating.
Horns Effect
Horns Effect, like the Halo Effect, allows one disfavoured qualification, trait, or experience to take precedence and lead to an unfairly low candidate rating.
Similarity Effect
The Similarity Effect occurs when an evaluator rates a candidate based on characteristics the appraiser sees in themselves. Interviewers have an unconscious tendency to favour people who are physically and professionally like them.
Appraiser Biases
Appraiser Biases occur when an evaluation is based on individual demographic differences. Personal beliefs, attitudes, assumptions, and preferences can lead to unfair evaluations of candidates.
Primacy Effect
Primacy Effect is associated with “the first impression,” interviewers’ first impressions of a candidate can often play a powerful role in their subsequent assessment.
Contrast Effect
Contrast Effect occurs when one’s ranking is based on one’s position relative to others in the group. If an interview pool consists of several outstanding candidates, it will be extremely difficult for an average candidate to be selected; however, in a sub-standard pool the average candidate may inexplicably stand out.

All selection or screening methods must be based on the essential tasks and skills for the position (as outlined in the job description) and comply with human rights legislation.

Employment testing

You can use tests to further confirm candidates skills, knowledge, and abilities.

As with interviews, you will need to ensure that the test fairly measures the applicant’s ability to do the job and the test must be the same for all candidates that make it to this stage.

You can create your own tests like an MS Office suite test for admin positions, a numeracy test for finance roles, a priority test based on a set of job specific tasks, or a short essay assignment to assess a candidate’s written ability as well as their reasoning given a certain job-based scenario.

You can also use an external provider to conduct your employment testing. These are particularly common for aptitude testing. There are many different professional testing providers that you can research to find the best fit for your testing requirements.

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