How to Conduct an Effective Interview

As most of you will be aware, hiring the right person can be a time-consuming and challenging process, but it is vital that it is done correctly, especially considering the talent shortages that Australia and the rest of the world are currently facing. With top talent being in such short supply it is vital that you have an effective interview processes in place which enables you to identify talent both quickly and reliably.

How to Conduct an Effective Interview

A bad recruitment decision which results in your business hiring the wrong person can be costly in terms of replacement costs, lost production time and decreased morale within your teams. In fact the CIPD estimate that the direct physical cost of hiring the wrong person can be up to 2.5 times salary, whereas the Harvard Business Review put this figure at 3-5 times salary, increasing to 10 times salary for senior or specialist posts.

A crucial stage of the recruitment and selection process is interviewing, as this is where the talent is actually identified. It is vital that the organisations adopts the best practice approaches to interviewing to ensure they make the best selection decision.

Research from Shackleton and Anderson suggests that a technique known as structured interviewing is the most reliable technique for predicting candidate performance. In fact, it was almost twice as reliable as an unstructured interview or an informal chat.

Structured Interviewing

So, what is Structured Interviewing? Fortunately, it is quite a straight forward process but it does require a disciplined approach. Structured Interviewing is where the interview panel/person interviews the candidate using questions from a standardised questionnaire. This questionnaire will have been designed in advance to ensure that the candidate is questioned in a systematic manner on all the competency areas that are relevant to the role in question. Using a questionnaire helps to ensure that each candidate is questioned thoroughly and consistently.

Behavioural Questioning

As well as using a structured interview format, the most effective interview processes make use of Behavioural Questioning techniques. It is a style of questioning where interviewees are expected to answer questions by using real work-based examples drawn from their work experience. The idea behind Behavioural Interviewing is that past performance is the most reliable indicator of future performance. It is the most widely used interview technique and practiced by all leading organisations.

This is a Typical Behavioural Question:
“Can you describe a situation when you have used your conflict resolution skills effectively when dealing with an angry client? What was the situation? What was your involvement? Did you effectively resolve the conflict? How did you do this? What did you learn from the situation?”

Interviewing Pitfalls

Even though structured behavioural interviews provide an effective and highly objective way of identifying talent, the interviewers themselves can be subject to influences which reduce the objectivity of the interviewer. As an interviewer, you should be wary of these potential pitfalls and attempt to avoid them. Two of the most common interviewing pitfalls are:

1. Halo/Horns Effect:

      This happens when an interviewer places too much emphasis on one positive characteristic (Halo) or one negative characteristic (Horns) and allows this to unfairly shape their overall opinion of the candidate.

2. Primacy/Recency Effect:

    Interviewers tend to remember the first and last person interviewed and may place unfair emphasis on these candidates in a positive or negative way simply because these candidates are more prominent in the interviewers mind.

By adhering to the structured interview format and assessing candidates objectively based on their responses to a standard set of questions you can minimise subjectivity and reduce the influence of the Halo/Horns and Primacy/Effect.