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So tell us a little about yourself...

Leading an interview can be as stressful as going for one. What to ask. What not to ask. How to ensure a fair evaluation process. How to get the best out of candidates. These are just some of the challenges you face. Choosing the wrong applicant isn't just frustrating, it can be costly. Follow our tips for support.

Optimise your interviews

Here are some questions to ask yourself to help you, your business and the interviewees get the most out of the interview process.

How does the interviewee's abilities match your needs?

What talents must the successful candidate have? Will they need to be self-starters, display critical thought and confident decision making? Give candidates a solid chance to showcase their strengths so you can decide if they're a good match for the job.

Does the interviewee share your company values?

You may not have given a lot of thought to what your company values are, but they probably still matter to you. Is an ethical approach to business high on your list of priorities? How would you like people to view your company? What motivates you to do well? Figure out what drives your candidate to succeed. Do you make a good match?

Have you looked beyond the CV to the person sitting in front of you?

Great skills and qualifications are all well and good, but can you imagine working with this person on a day-to-day basis? You wouldn’t hire a town crier to work in a library. Be careful not to bring unconscious bias to this question. Leave your prejudices at the door. This isn’t about someone’s gender or age.

Can you imagine the interviewee doing the job?

The interview is a good time to check if what is written on the CV is an accurate reflection of the candidate. Have you asked them a question they seem reluctant to answer? Observe their body language and how they might try to lead you on to other subjects. Learn to see through smokescreens and remember a poorer performing interviewee might sometimes be better at actually doing the job.

Good practice

  • Prepare, prepare, prepare!
  • Delve deep – don’t skirt over the surface of the CV.
  • Use similar questions for every interviewee so you can better compare them.
  • Use how, why, when and what questions. This will mean the candidate must give a more open, expansive answer.
  • Give them time to ask you questions too.
  • Don’t ask discriminatory questions. For example, don’t ask a woman if she is planning on starting a family soon.

After the interview

When you’ve selected your new recruit, write to all applicants to thank them and tell them whether they were successful. Give feedback.This isn’t just about helping them improve for the next interview. It’s about them leaving with a positive impression of your business despite not getting the job. Keep the CVs of candidates that impressed you the most.

How to conduct a fair and inclusive interview

Keep in mind, if you unintentionally limit the number of potential candidates going for a job, you're shrinking your options. Follow these simple tips to help strengthen your recruitment process.

What to do

  • Ask the applicant if there are any adjustments needed for them to work to their full potential.
  • Ensure equalities monitoring questions are separated from application forms before shortlisting.
  • Consider the diversity of the interview team. If they are all the same gender and ethnicity will this give a message to candidates about who might "fit in".
  • Make sure everyone involved in the selection process is aware of the legal requirements surrounding recruitment.
  • Ensure the interview venue is fully accessible. You will need to check with the candidates if they will require any additional support at the interview, such as a note-taker or BSL interpreter.
  • Agree interview questions with all members of the panel beforehand. It is also good practice to create a scoring grid for candidates before the interview so panellists can agree a quantitative score for each interviewee rather than relying on a gut reaction or sense of who is the best candidate.
  • Keep in mind an informal interview might serve to relax the candidates but it might favour the confident or those who are used to interviews.
  • Make sure that the interview dates do not clash with any significant cultural or religious festivals. You can do this by checking the Interfaith Calendar.

What not to do

  • Ask inappropriate questions about plans to have children or health conditions.
  • Select someone who will “fit in” with the existing team even though they lack the skills and experience.
  • Avoid appointing or promoting someone because of flawed assumptions about the types of roles they would be good at.
  • Avoid appointing or promoting someone because you don’t think they will "fit in".
  • Avoid appointing or promoting someone because other staff, clients, customers or service users might not like working with them because of their identity.