Interview techniques

Recruitment: How to ensure a successful job interview

The purpose of a job interview is to let you (as a representative of the company) and the candidate look at each other and assess whether you're a good professional match. As a recruiter, it's your responsibility to ensure you get to know the candidate as well as possible during the interview so you can make an informed choice about who will be your new employee.

It's extremely important that you as a recruiter are well-prepared for the interview - for both the candidate's and your own sake. It shows the candidate that the company is professional and respects the time and effort the candidate has invested in applying for the position. It also ensures that you are judging all candidates on a common, fair basis and that you have a guideline to follow so you don't lose the thread during the interview.

In this article, we will explore how to ensure a successful job interview. We will go through what you need to prepare before the interview and what different types of questions you should prepare for the interview.

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LEAD's Recruitment and Retention in the Public Sector course provides you with the leadership skills and tools to engage and retain talented employees and achieve long-term success.

At LEAD, we work strategically with the concept of "The Attractive Workplace", where the organization as a whole is crucial to your success in recruiting and retaining the right employees. We help you analyze your own organization and identify the focus areas you need to optimize.

In this course, we have gathered a number of experts in public management and recruitment to rethink the way we as organizations and leaders look at and strategically target recruitment and retention of employees in a long-term, sustainable perspective. You'll gain inspiration and concrete tools to rethink and improve your practices for recruiting and retaining the right employees. And you'll have the opportunity to take a closer look at your own practices and get new inspiration for possible solutions.

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What to prepare before the interview

Before the candidate arrives for the interview, it's important that you're ready to welcome them. Therefore, there are some things you need to prepare before the interview starts:

  • Write down your questions: Questions are one of the most important elements when it comes to conducting a job interview. We always recommend writing down your questions so you don't have to make them up during the interview. This way, you ensure that you are assessing all candidates on a common basis. Later in this article, we'll go through specific examples of good interview questions to ask.
  • Prepare the room: It's important that the interview room is ready for use when the candidate arrives. Also, make sure you have beverages ready - such as water, sparkling water, tea and coffee - to offer the candidate.
  • Refresh the candidate's CV and cover letter: Print out the candidate's CV and cover letter and read them again before the interview. If there is anything you would like to hear more about, you can highlight this information in the documents so you can easily find it during the interview.
  • Remember the notebook: Once the interview is over, it can be difficult to remember exactly what impressed you and how the candidate responded to certain questions. Therefore, it's a good idea to take notes during the interview that you can refer back to when all the interviews are over and it's time to make a decision.

Once all this is prepared, you should be well-equipped to welcome your selected candidates. So, let's go through the different types of questions you should ask at the interview so you can get to know the candidates better and assess whether they are a good match for both the job and the workplace.

Questions for the job interview: Behavioral, competency-based and hypothetical questions

The job interview is the part of the recruitment process that gives you the best opportunity to get to know the candidate better. You may have already had a brief phone or video conversation with them beforehand, but it's not until the in-person interview that you really get a chance to see if the candidate is a good match for the company.

A good way to get to know each candidate better is to ask a mix of different types of questions during the interview. It's a good idea to include questions from these three categories:

  1. Behaviour-based questions
  2. Competency-based questions
  3. Hypothetical questions

There are not necessarily right and wrong answers to these questions. Most of these questions simply let the candidate describe their behavior, work methods and mindset in their own words. This allows you to learn a lot about who the candidate is and how they would fit into your work culture.

1. behavioral questions

Behavioral questions are based on situations the candidate has been in before. The questions let the candidate tell you what they chose to do in a particular situation and why.

However, keep in mind that these questions focus on past behavior and that the candidate might act differently if they were in a similar situation now. If you want to know more about this, you can always ask probing questions.

Here are some examples of behavioral questions:

  • Let's talk about a goal you've achieved in your professional life. What did you do to achieve it?
  • Tell us about a time in your current job when a disagreement arose between you and a colleague. How did you handle the situation?
  • When you work with others in a group, what do you do to ensure collaboration goes well?
  • How do you deal with tight deadlines?
  • Tell me about a situation that you would handle differently now.

2. Competency-based questions

Competency-based questions give you a better understanding of the candidate's skills, knowledge and expertise. The candidate's answers to these questions should confirm and elaborate on the competencies they have listed on their CV. At the same time, it gives you a better understanding of how the candidate's skills match the ones you've listed in the job posting.

Here are some examples of competency-based questions:

  • Describe your work process step by step.
  • Which tools do you prefer to use in your work - and why?
  • How do you manage your team?
  • What challenges do you typically face in your current job and how do you overcome them?

3. Hypothetical questions

Hypothetical questions are similar to behavioral questions. The difference is that hypothetical questions are about hypothetical situations that the candidate hasn't necessarily been in before and how they would solve them. These types of questions can help you get a better understanding of the candidate's work ethic and general attitude.

When asking hypothetical questions, it's a good idea to base them on situations, challenges and dilemmas that typically arise in the position.

Here are some examples of hypothetical questions:

  • How would you handle a conflict with another employee?
  • What would you do if you discovered you weren't able to meet a deadline for a project you're working on?
  • You're halfway through a project and you've just realized you've made a big mistake that will affect the project. What do you do?
  • What would you do if you saw a colleague doing something potentially dangerous?

Read more about LEAD's Recruitment and Retention course

Do you want to be better equipped to recruit, engage and retain great people?

LEAD's course in recruitment and retention of employees in the public sector will fill your toolbox with concrete tools to work strategically and purposefully to create an attractive workplace, attract qualified candidates and engage and retain talented employees.

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