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How to Interview and Hire the Perfect Candidate

By Francis Kelly

How to Interview and Hire the Perfect Candidate

The Interview Stage

So far, so good. You’ve got some promising candidates who are attracted to your appealing vacancy and keen to work for you. It’s critical to ensure a timely plan for processing applications, or you will run the risk of candidates going elsewhere. A recruiter can help you speed up this process with their contacts.

It’s essential to follow a crib sheet to ensure you give all candidates a fair chance by marking them against the same criteria. When you’re scheduling, ensure that everyone taking part has cleared diary space. Remember, you will need time not only for the interviews but for the selection process afterwards. Allocate an employee to ‘meet and greet’ candidates and to coordinate any tests such as competency-based tasks or presentations. Remember to book the rooms you will need and allow space in your schedule for breaks for the interviewing team.


Interview Styles

There are various types of interview, which include the following:

  • Structured: formal, organised, series of questions regarding the post and candidate’s experience.

  • Unstructured: informal, open-ended questions, more conversational

  • Stress: For high-level, stressful roles, e.g. for accountants, aim to gauge your reaction to pressure.

  • Behavioural: based on the belief that past performance is the best predictor of future behaviour: questions are designed to see how a candidate’s previous experiences might affect their behaviour in similar situations in the future. 

  • Problem Solving: used to test analytical and communication skills

  • Panel: Similar to a structured format, but with several staff present asking questions or observing

It very much depends on your company‘s preference and the particular job role that determines the interview style. Something you may want to take a look at is Drexel University format which offers an in-depth look at each of these interview styles.

Candidate Profiling  

Many interviews include candidate profiling techniques. These tests can be behavioural, capability related or psychometric. They are aimed at determining personal proficiencies in an individual and, sometimes, how they will potentially react with other team members.

These tests give an individual a score or type definition, which the employer can use as a marker to gauge ‘fit’ into their existing team. Behavioural testing determines personality – what working style they have, their general behaviour, and how they interact with others.

Capability tests, or Aptitude tests, are used to test practically if an individual has the skill set to do the role successfully. An example of this is verbal or numeric reasoning.

Psychometric testing is growing in popularity and is similar to behavioural testing but in much more depth. This test looks to uncover core values and beliefs. Myers-Briggs and DISC are two popular tests in this category used by many employers.


How to Choose?

Alongside profiling results, interview evaluation forms or scoring cards are freely available on the internet, or you can devise one specifically for your own company. 

Rejecting Unsuitable Candidates

It’s unwise to reject a candidate out of hand if they are professional and have the right skills and traits you look for in general. Consider retaining them in your talent pipeline if you can – then
if another role becomes available that may be a good fit for them, you will already have someone in mind– saving you time and money.

Providing Interview Feedback

Feedback from the interview should be prompt and professional. If a candidate requests feedback, it’s worth taking the time to provide personalised, constructive feedback, as there is ample evidence that a dissatisfied candidate will often reject a brand as a consumer.  

Feedback will help them in future role applications elsewhere, but it can also mean that they will remember your company interview as a positive experience and may well apply for another role with you in the future, or tell their colleagues about it in a positive manner.


Managing the Offer

 Once you have a successful candidate in mind, make an oral offer to them as soon as you can. Remember that the candidate may still be actively job seeking and attending other interviews. You don’t want to dither only to find that your ideal employee has taken up another offer in the meantime. Also, bear in mind that a verbal offer is legally binding.

The contract of employment should be drawn up and sent to the new employee within a few days. It should specify how you will take up references, as well as proof of additional requirements such as DBS check.

How to Handle a Counteroffer

If the candidate comes back with a counteroffer, you will need to think through your options carefully. Remember, employees, don’t necessarily stay with a company that makes them a counteroffer. And they almost certainly won’t if it's only salary-related.

It’s worth reiterating to your candidate the benefits of moving to your company offers. Don’t dwell on salary but on the culture, they will enjoy; the perks such as flexible hours, the training programmes you offer and, most importantly, the clear career progression route they will have.

All these could be deciding factors.  

You don’t want to lose your ideal new hire, but if they aren’t prepared to move for the additional positives ofworking for you, then it’s likely they wouldn’t have stayed long anyway.

Handling a counteroffer can be notoriously tricky, and this is where you will find working with a recruitment company pays dividends (more on this later).

Candidate Management During the Notice Period

Let the new hire know how important they are to you and welcome them into the team. This could be something as simple as keeping in touch with your organisation’snewsletter, so they are up to date on all news when they arrive on their first day.

Additionally, you could ask the team to make contact in advance via LinkedIn, so the newcomer feels they already know their colleagues when they start work. First day nerves can be bad enough without a host of unfamiliar faces and names to contend with.


Finally, the day dawns when your new talented employee starts work. But this is no time to rest on your laurels. It’s crucial as part of your hiring process to remember to onboard correctly. Otherwise, all your time in attracting the new member of staff could be in vain.

Top employer brands including Google, Facebook, IBM, EY and Zappos have transformed their onboarding approach due to the significant impact on their firm's employer brand image (LinkedIn Business).

The onboarding time is a period that will play a pivotal role in the initial perception of your company, and consequently, influence the level of loyalty the individual has to the company. Many new employees leave their role in the first few months due to poor onboarding.

According to Forbes, there is a strong correlation between onboarding and unwanted employee turnover. For example, nearly all low-turnover firms (95%) have an onboarding process that helps with retention. In contrast, 20% of high-turnover firms do not have an onboarding process.

The First Day

Some employers ask their new starter to come in a little later on the first day. This allows you to ensure that everything is ready – desk, PC or laptop, phone, stationery, parking permit, locker key, and whatever else they may need. These small practicalities can make all the difference to your employee feeling welcomed into the company, or not.

Think about how you would feel if there wasn’t a desk for you on your first day! (it happened to a colleague of mine once).

Introductions will be made to the immediate team, but you may want to consider introducing some senior staff too (or let them introduce themselves – even better) It need only take a few moments but will make the new employee feel valued, planting a seed of loyalty from the start. 

Also, on the first day, it’s a good idea to start going through the job with the employee. Committing time to enable them to transpose into the team seamlessly with pay dividends – employees who have a good grasp on their duties and expectations from the get-go will quickly become productive members of their team.

Additionally, a lack of clarity on a role can lead to dissatisfaction as your employee will have no sense of direction. 


The First Few Months

A thorough onboarding process will include a detailed training plan. This will enable you to be sure that your new employee is fully conversant with the role and has all the training they need to carry out tasks allotted to them.

It also provides an opportunity for you, or the employee, to bring to light any need for additional skills training.

Alongside longer-term goals, including milestone achievements, will keep you on track and provide the opportunity to celebrate along the way.


The Future

Your commitment to your new employee doesn’t terminate after the first few months!

An ongoing commitment to lifelong learning and investment, alongside regular performance reviews, provide powerful tools. They act as a two-way conversation offering both employee and employer the opportunity to discuss further training, problems in the workplace. They also offer an excellent place to acknowledge a job done well.

Just ensure that your feedback is always positive and constructive, and most of all, relevant.

If, after reading this blog, you are looking for more advice on how to source and recruit the best talent. You should download our FREE Recruitment Reports like Building Your Talent Pipeline and The Ultimate Guide to Remote Onboarding.

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