Developing the art of successful interviewing

Last week Hamza and I attended a REC training course on Successful Interviewing. Both of us are kept busy interviewing candidates as part of the SHR registration process and were keen to learn how to do things better, faster and, well, more successfully! 

We were asked what issues we had with interviewing.  Mine were problems of controlling candidates who are too talkative, time management and asking probing questions. Hamza's intentions were to learn and practice all the key elements needed to conduct a successful interview.

We shared the course with four co-workers from Teamwork Selection in Gloucestershire who deal with providing staff for just about everything including warehousing and catering.

Our excellent trainer Jan came up with an unusual mnemonic TED.  Instead of asking questions in a roundabout way be brief and use

Tell me about …..
Explain how you….
Describe your role…..

We had an amusing time interviewing each other, observing and reporting back.  When I was interviewing it was helpful being challenged by a very feisty ex salesman (one of Teamwork Selection) – far more aggressive than any librarian I met hitherto.  He refused to answer in a direct way forcing me to stop being Mrs Nice Guy and employ my probing TED based questioning. It worked and I was able to bring him back on track.

The other key point I took away was the 30/70.  The interviewer should speak for only 30% of the time – if you find yourself wittering on then – shut up. This allows candidates to answer questions in depth, gaining the best possible perception of them.

Hamza highlights the following points. Summarising information from time to time demonstrates listening and in turn will help you engage with the interviewee, making them more comfortable and help build rapport. Objectivity errors were also discussed e.g. contrast effect, halo/horns effect, assumption etc, which was very helpful as time can be used more efficiently. Skills, competence, knowledge and attitude/approach are the key areas that are discussed in interviews. Awareness of legislation is vital for a successful interview. The interviewer must show they are in control and a solid structure and preparation is important. The interview must have a beginning, middle and end. A successful interviewer must be dressed appropriately, have the ability to probe and examine, find missing information and identify candidate’s strengths and weaknesses. Body language must be correct along with effective time management.
The interviewee should be made to do the work. 

Future interviewees – prepare yourselves! 

– Anne and Hamza

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