13. Interviewing (vi): Interview structure
Structure is a vital element of the interview for a number of reasons. Firstly, candidates expect you to take control and guide the proceedings. It looks professional and helps to use available time in the best possible way. Secondly, it lets you be confident that you have covered all relevant areas - you can hardly ring the candidate up afterwards and say 'Sorry, but I forgot to ask...'. Finally, it enables you to compare candidates. An unstructured approach may gather a wealth of information, but how can you accurately score it to compare people fairly?
The interview can be broken down into the following stages:
- Welcome: On arrival, put candidates at ease by using selected ‘small talk’.
- Supply Information: Give relevant background information on the business, including its objectives, organisation and culture. Clearly state the tasks involved in the job.
- Acquire Information: Use open-ended, specific questions about the candidate’s background to probe further into their experience and qualifications. If you are not satisfied that the candidate has properly answered your question, it's best to rephrase it rather than simply repeat it. This way, you don’t appear to be bullying.
- Ask the applicant for questions.
- Parting: Wrap up the interview by asking if the candidate has anything further to add.
Immediately after the interview, take time to make notes on anything said that is directly relevant to your final decision. Do this while the conversation is still fresh in your mind. The final decision should be based on how closely each candidate matches the person specification for that particular job.