Interviewing, how to get the most out of the meeting

So you’ve written a fantastic specification, posted a terrific advert, found some great candidates and now you’re interviewing them for the first time. This first meeting has to be right, you need to put a little thought into it to ensure you get all of the information you need to make a decision and that you leave a good impression with your candidate.

Where to start?
Identify what you want to achieve. Think about the role you are recruiting for, what does a candidate need to display in order to fit the criteria? What are the flexible elements? Does this individual need to have the right experience or could you bring on an excellent graduate? It could be useful to think about the current make-up of the team, what they’ve got on and what they need from this individual – if you’re struggling to meet a looming deadline with an overstretched team, this individual needs to hit the ground running.

Read through the candidates’ CVs, what do you want to probe them on? Is it specific projects, transferable skills, general outlook, or all of the above? You don’t want to come out of an interview with a candidate with unanswered questions and it can be tricky to remember everything whilst in the moment so make sure you make a note of the questions you have.

Identify a structure you would like to follow for the interview, even if it’s a loose prompt. This is particularly essential if you are holding an interview day with narrow time slots as you do not want to run over your allocated time or rush the interview, potentially missing important information. If you intend on giving them a tour or getting them to meet team members, ensure your colleagues are aware and ready to meet a prospective candidate!

Depending on the role, you may want your candidate to undertake testing. This may be a hands on technical test, proficiency tests or a discursive problem solving test. Whatever the scenario, ensure that you are comfortable explaining it and administering it so that you can guide your candidate and answer any questions for them.

On the day – things to remember
Ensure you have all of the essential information to hand: an up to date CV, notes from the initial conversation (whether your own notes, notes from your internal recruitment team or notes from the agency you are working with), examples of candidate’s work if relevant, and finally any documents or information that you would like to pass on to the candidate to aid their understanding of the role or your business.

Don’t go it alone – even the most seasoned interviewer will find it easier to interview with a colleague. It can help to get a second point of view from someone whose opinion you trust, they may be your manager, a member of your team or someone from HR. Having another person in the interview with you will allow you to take turns asking questions, allowing you to think on your next point and properly digest information without feeling the spotlight is squarely on you, they may think to ask different questions to you or probe further in different areas, helping you get more from the meeting.

It’s not a one-way street. Occasionally businesses will find that their candidates were great at interview but they never returned subsequent contact. It is vital to remember that at some stage during your interview, you will need to sell the role to some extent. Yes, you make the decision on who enters the business, but the candidate needs to feel that you want them there during the interview, in order to leave with a positive feeling towards the company. There is a skills shortage in IT so candidates can afford to be fussy, the best candidates will likely have a number of opportunities that they are currently considering, make sure yours stands out and that they feel they have a connection with you as an interviewer.

Essential closing points
Think about how you would like to be treated during an interview and what you would like to gain as a candidate attending an interview with your business. Ensure that you keep this in mind throughout. “Little” things like remembering your candidate’s name, greeting them with a friendly handshake and making them a cup of tea will go a long way, and their absence will, most likely, be noticed.

Make notes, document the key points of the meeting and write down anything you do not want to forget. If you are interviewing more than one candidate, jot down something to make them memorable and distinguish them from the other people you have met.

For more advice or insight on the skills you require, please contact Meghan Carey on 01789 269 677 or at