The interview is the part of the recruitment process where you really get to know the candidate. What motivates them? Can they think on the spot? Are they a good cultural fit? However, to figure out whether they’re right for the job it’s not enough just to listen to their answers. You have to make sure you’re asking the right questions, and you also have to watch how they give their answers.
Here’s a quick guide on what to look for:
1. How are they behaving?
You want your candidate to appear relaxed and quietly confident. After all, while job interviews can be stressful for prospective employees, employment also has its stresses and you need someone who can cope outside of their comfort zone.
What does ‘relaxed and quietly confident’ look like? At the very least, they should be sitting up straight. Ideally, they will even be leaning toward you a little. This shows that they are engaged in the conversation and present in the moment. Slouching or leaning back, by contrast, shows a lack of self-confidence and is usually a sign of defensiveness. It’s fine for them to be fiddling a little with their hands, provided it’s not so noticeable as to be distracting.
Second, they should be capable of making eye contact with you both when listening to your questions and when giving their responses. Just as importantly, they should also be capable of breaking eye contact with you. An inability to do either suggests that they will be unable to connect well with other people and are likely to make those around them a little uncomfortable.
Third, they should be speaking at a sensible pace and volume. Too slow or loud and people will want to walk away, too fast or quiet and people won’t understand them. Confident communicators are able to find that perfect balance.
2. Have they actually answered the question?
Of course, you want candidates to come prepared, but you don’t want pre-prepared answers to questions you didn’t actually ask. If a candidate gives a brilliant response to a slightly different question, this suggests they lack the ability to think on their feet or listen attentively. Quite often, pre-prepared answers sound slightly unnatural and robotic and contrast to how the candidate usually articulates themselves.
3. Do they ever give evidence?
If the candidate helps themselves to positive adjectives such as ‘hard-worker’, ‘problem-solver’, ‘team-player’ and so on, are they capable of giving evidence to back up their claims? Press them for details – can they give an example of a difficult problem they overcame at work? If they’re clearly struggling, this indicates that the candidate is all talk.
4. Do they possess a quality your team currently lacks?
It’s easy, when conducting an interview, to favor candidates who answer the way you would. And certainly, sometimes the way you would answer is clearly the best way to answer. However, on occasion, there can be a number of acceptable responses and it can be a good idea to hire someone who thinks differently to you or the rest of the team. After all, someone who thinks differently is more likely to spot those problems you’ll miss.
5. What questions do they ask you?
The candidate should anticipate that you will give them the opportunity to ask any questions they may have, and so failing to prepare any shows a serious lack of foresight. Moreover, what questions they do choose to ask can tell you a lot about what motivates them and how interested they actually are in the role they’ve applied for and the company as a whole. If their first question is about salary, you know money is on their mind. Ideally, they’ll be interested in something like the daily life of the office or whether the company is undergoing any substantial changes in the near future.
About the author: Oliver Hurcum is a freelance writer who writes for Inspiring Interns, which specializes in finding candidates internships in London.