All this preparation is irrelevant if you cannot communicate with the candidate due to their being on edge, nervous, and uncomfortable. This section will show you how to prepare the candidate.
You remember how it feels. You are brought into the room and sit in front of several stern interviewers. Your blood is pounding so hard in your ears you can barely hear what they are saying! It is a waste of everyone's time if you can't settle the candidate.
An interview is an exchange of information. You need to manage the candidate's (as well as the interviewers') nerves and composure for best communication to ensure you get the best out of them and have all the information you need to make the right decision at the end of the process.
This is the start of your management career, and your manager expects you to perform. Your ability to select the right employee(s) will carry your ambition forward and be reflected in your department's performance. This is why working through this book is so important. It is never too early to set yourself apart as different from the rest.
Believe it or not, you have an advantage as a new manager that other interviewers may not have—you have very recently been interviewed for a new position yourself! Use this experience to improve your own interview technique. Make a list of what was good and bad about your interviews as a candidate.
Think about the following points:
Were you put at ease by the interviewer? Did the questions start before you had sat down? Did you feel so stressed you couldn't think or did the interviewer relax you?
Was the interview process explained? Were you told how long the interview would be, what would happen during and after?
Could you overhear the previous interview? Interviews should be private and neither overheard nor subjected to random conversation from nearby rooms or corridors.
Did you feel you were rushed and unable to answer fully? There is nothing worse than feeling you weren't allowed to give the full answer; clearly "they" had already made up their mind! Much better to feel you had all the time you needed.
Were you intimidated by the interviewers? You know the sort: weak managers who use their authority to bully. You won't allow this and will manage the interview responsibly.
Was the room set up poorly? Inappropriate chair, lighting, line of sight obstacles? The interview room is no place for interrogation tricks but a space for as free an exchange of information as possible.
Use your own list of good and bad experiences and discuss them with HR to agree ways to improve the interview experience you're about to give to your candidates. For HR, this is just another interview in a long series of interviews. For you, this is an early opportunity to show who you are, and why you were given the manager's job.
To settle the candidate in the interview, you need to build rapport to put them at ease. The next section shows you how.
On first greeting the candidate, ask a few rapport building questions such as the following:
Did you find us OK?
Did you have a good journey?
How was the traffic?
This normally takes a minute or two as the candidate is settling in the interview room.
If the candidate had a bad journey, do not ask if they will be able to get to work on time. This may be discriminatory.
Everyone tends to be nervous at first. The careful, thorough preparation you are doing will allow you to be confident, relaxed, and in control, so this conversation will be natural and welcoming. Be sure to make eye contact and use the normal nods and murmurs to demonstrate agreement in any normal conversation. Don't make the candidate feel you are just pretending to be interested in them. Use the conversation to relax them so they are able to answer the questions readily. Don't let the time run away though!
Make your own list of simple questions to build rapport and use them. You may find something in common with the candidate through their application: a college, children, or hobby perhaps.
We have now covered the basic preparation for interviewing. Before going on to the next chapter and learning some techniques of interviewing, please review the preparatory actions you need to complete in the following checklist.
Before you proceed to the next chapter, ensure you have carried out all the tasks specified in this chapter. You need to be able to answer yes to the following:
Have you discussed the job requirement with your manager to determine any change needed to the information?
Have you collected the job advert, candidate pack, and interview questions from HR?
Have you checked the job details and is the advertisement correct in every detail?
Is the candidate pack correct?
Have you agreed the interview structure and process with HR and the other interviewers?
Have you decided how you want the interview room to be arranged?
Have you worked through and measured or estimated how long each part of the interview should last?
Have you prepared a plan with milestones to help you manage the interview?
Have you written, learnt, and practiced the 2-3 minute introduction?
Have you got HR's approval for the content of your 2-3 minute introduction?
Do you understand how each interview question relates to a skill?
Do you understand how the follow up questions are used to seek more detailed explanations?
Do you understand your local Employment Discrimination laws?
Do you have your own nerves under control?
Have you decided how to dress for the interview?
Have you developed a performance mode, a trigger, and practiced it?
Have you identified the good and bad in your recent interview experiences?
Have you discussed with HR how to use your recent interview experiences?
Have you prepared and practiced your rapport building skills?
Have you completed everything on this list?
Be sure you are competent in the first 19 points mentioned previously. Tick them off one after another as you achieve them. Before you tick number 20, ask yourself if you feel fully prepared to delve into the technique of interviewing.