Job Interview Guide for Employers

  • Recruitment
Job Interview
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Peninsula Group, HR and Health & Safety Experts

(Last updated )

The job interview is one of the first interactions an employee has with a company, so it is a vital step. Ensure you conduct yours to the best fashion with our guide.

It is essential to hire the best talent if you want to grow your business. You want to make sure you make a good impression with potential employees, and the interview is your first interaction with them.

Many employees see it as a one-way process, where it is simply you assessing a candidate. However, it is a chance for employees to see what you offer as well. So you must ensure you set a high standard in your interview processes, else you’ll lose out on the best.

Use this guide to learn how to conduct an effective interview and help your business grow with new recruits.

What is an interview?

A job interview is an important part of the recruitment process. Having identified a shortlist of suitable candidates, the interview gives you a valuable opportunity to ask specific questions to candidates in order to assess their suitability for the job.

That said, job interviews can also be tricky to get right. After all, you want to find the best person for the role, whilst also providing equal opportunities for individuals to apply for it. let’s look at how to interview someone and, ultimately, how to be a good interviewer.

What is an informal interview?

Informal interviews are when an interview takes place outside of the usual workplace, such as at a café or in a pub. Whilst its primary purpose is the same – to identify the best person for a role – informal interviews can be a good way of combatting the nerves of candidates.

An informal interview can also give the interviewee a chance to get to know a candidate before inviting them to a formal process.

How to conduct an interview

The first thing you need to do is to pre-prepare for the questions that you are going to ask during the interview.

These should be purely based on the specific needs and requirements of the role in question; no question should in any way be discriminatory. For example, asking questions about a candidate’s personal life should be avoided.

You should also consider how you are going to structure the interview:

  • What is a structured interview? – this is where every interview you conduct is the same, including asking the same questions in the same order. To avoid accusations of an unfair process, this is the structure you should maintain as much as possible.
  • What is an unstructured interview? – this is where questions are not prepared in advance and simply asked on the day. Whilst this can help the process be more personalised, it does present an opportunity for accusations of an unfair process.
  • What is a semi-structured interview? – this is where only some questions are pre-prepared in advance, and the interviewer also asks some additional questions on the day. However, again, this can give rise to claims of unfairness.

How to start an interview

You should begin the interview by introducing yourself, and anyone else with you, to the candidate. You should also allow them to introduce themselves to you. Prior to the interview beginning, it is also a good idea to make sure they have access to water and know where the nearest facilities are.

If you are conducting a remote interview, make sure that the candidate is fully aware of the software they need to use, and what they should do if they lose a connection.

From here, start with your pre-determined questions.

You should give candidates the opportunity to answer each question in full. You should not interrupt them. If you wish, you can ask them to expand on certain points.

Can you take notes in an interview?

It is very important that you note down what the candidate says in response to your questions in order for you to clearly document how you have made your decision. Their answers should be scored through a pre-prepared scoring system. The higher the score, the stronger the candidate.

You should, however, be careful what you write. The candidate will expect you to make notes, but make sure you are not writing anything offensive, or criticising, that they could see and be put off by.

How long do interviews last?

It is a common conception that the longer the interview, the stronger the candidate, but this is not necessarily the case.

In short, how long the interview should last will vary depending on the role, the candidate and what is being asked of them. You may know how long you would like the session to run, mainly due to the number of questions you intend to ask, so you could plan your schedule around this.

Interviews and employment law

Employers must avoid unlawful  when recruiting. Discrimination can either be direct (ie against a particular employee) or indirect (ie when a practice, selection criterion or provision puts employees with a 'protected characteristic' at a disadvantage).

To avoid discrimination and other legal claims, you must be fair and be able to show you have been fair. This means that you should not use criteria that relate to a protected characteristic, in both a positive or negative manner.

The nine protected characteristics are:

  1. Age
  2. Sex
  3. Sexual orientation
  4. Race
  5. Nationality or ethnic origin
  6. Disability
  7. Religious or philosophical beliefs (which can include political beliefs)
  8. Marital or civil partnership status
  9. Trade union membership (or lack of)

Particularly beware age and sex discrimination. If you specify a level of experience, make sure it's necessary - not just because you assume an older person will be better at the job. You are allowed to discriminate as long as it is an occupational requirement and is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.   

Need our help?

Peninsula offers expert advice on job interviews. Our teams provide 24/7 HR advice which is available 365 days a year. We take care of everything when you work with our HR experts.

Want to find out more? Contact us on 0800 028 2420 and book a free consultation with an HR consultant today.

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