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Getting To Know You, Getting To Know All About You…

Over the past month, the focus of the media has been firmly fixed on the general election and the battle between the political leaders; David Cameron, Gordon Brown and Nick Clegg have appeared on our screens since the election race began.

Do you feel like you know these guys, almost as well as your work colleagues? Every little thing has been caught on camera or mic, including what we might term Gordon’s Gaffes. Remember the recent “bigot” remark? Whoops! As an employer, you may often have to perform interviews for recruiting new staff into the company and redeploying existing staff into new roles.

That means using that short space of time to assess an applicant and gather as much relevant, factual information as possible, so that you can create as accurate a picture as you can of the person in front of you. The old Scouts motto comes into play here… be prepared; interviews carried out by untrained interviewers are one of the least reliable ways of predicting future success in a job. However, if you have created a job description, proper person specification and have prepared a list of questions focussing on an applicant’s competencies and behaviours, the reliability improves significantly. If you add in suitable testing, the process can be as accurate as 70%.

  • As the interviewer, you should aim to speak for no more than 40% of the time throughout the entire interview. An interview should progress through the following four stages:Introduce yourself and give a brief outline of the format of the interview by informing the applicant what he should expect, how long the interview is expected to last, what you want from him and what information you will give.
  • Be systematic in gathering your information; question your applicant in a methodical way and be certain that you have thoroughly probed the competencies and personal traits you set out to explore. Ensure that you are steering the interview and keeping it on course, and do not stop asking questions until you are happy that you have got all the information you need.
  • Check that you have asked all that you wanted to. Avoid making judgements on your immediate impressions or “gut feeling”; the most important thing to take into consideration is the evidence that confirms or denies whether or not the applicant has the appropriate skills set. Answer the applicant’s questions.
  • Inform the applicant of the next stage should he be (un)successful, and allow him to ask any questions before extending your thanks and farewells.

Following the completion of all the interviews, send out courteous letters of regret to those who are unsuccessful as soon as possible; arrange second (if appropriate) interviews with applicants or contact the successful applicant(s) to make a verbal offer, followed by a written offer.

Make sure that you inform the successful applicant(s) that the offer is conditional upon the receipt of satisfactory references. Going through an application process from start to finish can be a daunting process for any employer.

Russell HR Consulting provides expert knowledge in HR solutions, employment law training and HR tools and resources to businesses across the UK.

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