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Steps in successful selection interviewing.

[check] This checklist is designed to help managers conduct successful selection interviews.

The job interview is still the most widely used recruitment tool, in spite of the increasing interest in other techniques such as the use of biodata, graphology, personality tests or assessment centres. There are three principal interview models:

* the biographical interview--exploring the candidate's experiences

* the structured behavioural description (BDI) interview--eliciting information about how applicants have behaved in past specific critical incidents

* the structured situational interview--comprising a series of job-related questions, based on a thorough job analysis, of how candidates would react to a given hypothetical, specific situation.

Many interviewers (or organisations) prefer to use one technique, but these different models can be useful in different situations. This checklist helps interviewers plan, prepare and conduct interviews, regardless of the interview approach they adopt.

Definition

Recruitment and selection interviews assess (or partly assess, in conjunction with other methods) an individual's suitability for a job either inside or outside their current organisation.

Advantages of selection interviews

* Selecting new employees by means of a well-designed process can avoid recruitment mistakes, which are costly to the organisation.

* Information supplied by candidates in their application can be added to or verified.

* Candidates can learn more about the organisation than would otherwise be possible.

Drawbacks of selection interviews

There is some doubt that an interview is the most appropriate mechanism for assessing candidates' suitability with accuracy, witness:</p> <pre> First impressions are often lasting impressions; decisions tend to be made early on in the interview. Interviewers may prefer candidates who are like themselves, which may hinder objectivity.

There is a danger of the interviewer only hearing information which

supports preconceptions or first impressions. Interviewers can get jaded and confused if too many interviews are held in one day--early interviews get forgotten and later ones are less effective. </pre> <p>Action checklist

1. Narrow the search

Interviewing is a fairly late step in the recruitment process, and follows the drawing up of a job description and list of behaviours or competencies required, placing advertisements and short-listing candidates. (These points are covered in related checklists). The information collected from these processes will form the basis of the criteria against which candidates may be judged.

2. Prepare yourself for the interview

To obtain maximum benefit from the interviewing process, careful planning and preparation are essential. Some organisations have particular styles of interview that they prefer. Check the policies of your own organisation and ensure you adhere to them, following all the necessary practices and completing required paperwork.

* Style--Interviews can take many forms--one to one, sequential one to one, or panel interviews--which can be complemented by tests, presentations, group discussions and social events. Once the format has been decided, it is always advisable to brief all the people involved, including reception staff, and staff in the department of the vacancy. If several people are involved in interviewing, a chairman should be appointed. Decide how long each will hold the stage and what sort of questions will be asked.

* Schedule--Scheduling the day(s) realistically is crucial. Always running behind and keeping interviewees waiting for extended periods can give a bad impression of the organisation. Draw up a schedule which allows time to interview, discuss, write notes and prepare for the next person. Plan too for some breaks, as interviewing can prove tiring.

* Documentation--The application form or CV, person specification and job description are essential documents to have before you. Read through all the relevant material beforehand, noting or highlighting particular areas of interest.

* Environment--Think carefully about the environment you want to create. Your choice of room, chairs and layout is important to the interview. No distractions of any kind should be permitted: they disrupt the natural flow of the interview and can disturb the candidate. Put a notice on the door, divert phone calls or take the phone off the hook. If interruptions are still possible, identify and book another location.

3. Inform candidates that they have been selected for interview

Inform candidates in writing as soon as possible that they have been selected for interview, and of the date and time of their interview. This should be done with a reasonable notice period (a week may be sufficient, but with more senior posts longer notice is desirable). Decide what you will do if the candidate genuinely cannot come on the specified date. Include in the information sent:

* a location map and details of public transport

* details of the length of time the candidate will be involved with the interview

* the format of the interview (whether the candidate will be expected to take a psychometric or aptitude test, for example).

4. Work out how to record how each candidate performs

You may decide to develop a scoring or recording method, particularly if more than one person is involved in the interview process or if more than three or four interviews are to be held. This can bring some method to establishing, remembering and measuring the key points which can affect decision making. Weight the criteria you have established for the post and use a systematic points rating against these for each candidate as the interview progresses.

5. Plan the questions to ask

Questions can take many forms--open, hypothetical, leading, probing or closed.

* Open questions provide an open platform for the interviewee to structure and steer the response.

* Hypothetical questions allow the interviewer to establish how the candidate would act in a certain situation.

* Leading questions can tend to make assumptions that the interviewee will confirm or deny.

* Probing questions enable the interviewer to explore an issue more fully and can help draw out the whole picture.

* Closed questions are useful to establish precise facts, but tend to lead to very short answers (often yes or no).

If more than one interviewer, decide who will ask which questions. Beware, however, of discriminatory questions. Avoid asking questions only of specific groups. Answers to some types of questions may be more difficult to score systematically.

6. Prepare for the interviewee's questions

Most interviewees should have some questions which may be asked throughout the interview. It is good practice to check, as the interview closes, if there is anything further they would like to ask or add. These often relate to the job itself, conditions of employment, further training, possible start date for the successful candidate, help with finding temporary accommodation or transport questions.

7. Set the stage

At the start of the interview it is essential to put the candidate at their ease. If there are several interviewers, the Chair should introduce them all. Smile, shake their hand and ask light, background questions to establish rapport and create the right climate. At this point in the interview, the planned process should be explained to the candidate and further information about the role and responsibilities of the job should be given.

8. Observe closely, taking body language into account

The key to successful interviewing is to listen carefully and to look deeper than the words expressed. Don't spend time thinking about how to phrase your next question (you should have decided this beforehand): while you are doing so you are not paying full attention to the candidate. Some of the following may give you an indication that perhaps something is not quite right:

* blushing

* nervous hand movements

* sudden loss of eye contact

* twitching, stammering, frowning

* any significant change in the pace of speech

* inconsistency between words and non-verbal messages.

If you notice any of these signs, it may be worth probing more deeply into what the candidate has said. On the other hand it may be explained away as nervousness; the interviewer may then decide to try to help put the interviewee at ease. Watch your own body language too: make it clear to the candidates that they have your continuous full attention.

9. Close the interview constructively

The ending of an interview can be as important as the beginning. It is important to keep to your schedule by not allowing the interview to continue indefinitely. Thank the candidate for attending and explain what will happen next--a final decision or further short-listing. Give an indication of the timescale you intend to work to--ensure you stick to it.

10. Decide on the successful candidate

How you come to a decision can be the most difficult part of the process, particularly if interviewers disagree. Refer back to the scoring method chosen, ensure you base decisions on facts not feelings.

11. Practise your interviewing technique

To succeed in interviewer role it is essential to practise the necessary techniques. Test your technique on an experienced colleague, and if you are interviewing as a member of a panel, learn from the others and seek feedback. After each interview review your performance and look at what you could do differently.

12. Data Protection

A Code of Practice for recruitment and selection, issued under Data Protection legislation, gives failed candidates, in certain circumstances, the right to see any notes made during or after their interview. Dos and don'ts for successful selection interviewing

Do

Prepare thoroughly.

Check the organisation's policies.

Watch for inconsistencies between verbal and non-verbal behaviour.

Don't

Make decisions based on a gut reaction.

Break your schedule.

Allow interruptions.

Talk too much.

Useful reading

Recruitment and selection,2nd Edition Gareth Roberts Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development London, 2005

Are you looking at me: a practical pick and mix guide to recruiting a diverse workforce Wendy Blake Ranken London: NCVO Publications, 2004

Personnel selection adding value through people, 4th ed Mark Cook Chichester, John Wiley, 2004

Selection and recruitment: a critical text, Rosalind H Searle Milton Keynes, Palgrave MacMillan in association with the Open University, 2003

Thought starters

* How have those who have interviewed you performed in their role? What would you have done differently?

* What was good/bad about the best/worst interview you've ever had?
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Title Annotation:Checklist 107
Publication:Chartered Management Institute: Checklists: Human Resources, Training and Development
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Oct 1, 2005
Words:1637
Previous Article:Planning assessment and development centres.
Next Article:Undertaking a disciplinary interview.
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