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Our top tips to structure the perfect interview

An employer’s guide to interview questions

At OLG Recruitment, we understand the importance of finding the perfect candidate for your company. Our comprehensive guide to interview questions equips you with the tools necessary to identify the best fit for your open positions.

With the job market recovering from the pandemic and numerous applicants actively pursuing new roles, it may seem overwhelming to narrow down the ideal candidate. Conducting effective interviews with targeted questions and insightful evaluations of the responses will allow you to gauge whether an applicant’s skills, background, and personality align with your needs, bringing you closer to a successful hire.

How to prepare to interview a candidate

To ensure a smooth interview process, follow these four steps:

Choose the interview format and layout.

  • Interviews can take various forms, such as phone, in-person, virtual, one-on-one, group, or panel discussions.
  • Review the job description and understand the prerequisites. Identify the essential skills a candidate must possess and remain flexible with other requirements, which can expand your pool of potential hires.
  • List all the questions you intend to ask, emphasising those relating to crucial skills or experience.
  • If interviewing alongside a colleague, ensure you are not talking over each other by listing out questions each person can ask.

Preparing for a telephone interview.

Phone interviews are an excellent method to pre-screen candidates before progressing to the final interview stage, these enable to you evaluate the applicant’s communication abilities and address any unclear aspects of their CV before spending more time progressing them through the interview process.

You can also use phone interviews to pose screening questions, such as travel availability or specific industry certifications.

It is wise to consider asking the following questions during a phone interview:

  • Tell me about yourself.
    Can you explain why you’re seeking a new job?
    What attracts you to this position?
    What are your salary expectations?

The initial question helps assess communication skills, while the subsequent questions offer insight into the candidate’s career goals, personality, and motivations.

How to structure an interview

A structured interview ensures comprehensive coverage of crucial topics and allows candidates to showcase their qualifications, and experience, and ask any questions.

Interviews typically involve a mix of closed-ended and open-ended questions. Closed-ended questions are suitable for obtaining straightforward, factual responses.

Examples include:

  • How many years of experience do you have?
  • How long were you employed by your previous company?
  • Why did you leave your previous role?
  • What are you looking to get out of a role with our company?
  • What is your professional 3-5 year goal?

Open-ended questions, conversely, encourage applicants to expand on their thoughts and share their perspectives. Employers often use open-ended questions to gain insight into a candidate’s character and thought process.

Some more common open-ended interview questions are:

  • What do you consider your strengths and weaknesses?
  • Can you describe a time you had to deal with conflict?
  • Which achievements are you most proud of?
  • Have you previously worked to KPI’s and how did you measure your success?

Using a combination of both question types throughout the interview is recommended. Avoid asking too many leading questions that might influence the candidate’s response.

Competency based interviews

Frequently, competency-based interviews are used to evaluate a candidate’s relevant skills, knowledge, and behaviour. These open-ended questions often require real-life examples as responses. By asking competency-based questions, you can assess a candidate’s past experiences to determine their suitability for the position.

Examples include:

  • Describe a situation where you had to make a difficult decision quickly.
  • Can you provide an example of supporting organisational change?
  • Describe an instance when you worked under pressure.

Strength-based interviews

Strength-based interviews are common for either second or third interviews in a process, or when you’re looking less at a person’s skillset, and more at finding the right ‘fit’ for your team. These questions, focus on understanding a candidate’s core drivers rather than their experience. These questions offer insight into the candidate’s potential, eagerness to learn, and approach to various situations.

Some strength-based questions are:

  • Do you prefer working in a team or independently?
  • What tasks consistently remain on your to-do list?
  • How do you maintain motivation?
  • How would you tackle a task you’ve never done before?

Incorporating both competency and strength-based questions during
the interview allows for a comprehensive evaluation of a candidate’s fit for the role and the organisation. A well-rounded interview can help you make informed hiring decisions.

Cultural fit questions

It is just as important to find the right person as it is to find the right skills. Adding some culturally fit questions to your interview process will assess whether a candidate’s values and work style align with your company culture is essential for long-term success. Ask questions that explore their preferred work environment, collaboration style, and how they handle conflict.

OLG’s top tips for a successful interview

Allow for follow-up questions: Encourage candidates to ask their questions or seek clarification during the interview. This promotes open dialogue and helps both parties gain a better understanding of each other.

Be aware of unconscious biases: Unconscious biases can impact hiring decisions. Ensure you evaluate candidates based on their qualifications and experience rather than personal preferences or assumptions.

Take detailed notes: Documenting candidate responses and your impressions during the interview process helps when comparing and evaluating multiple applicants.

Conduct reference checks: Speaking with a candidate’s previous employers or colleagues can provide valuable insights into their work performance, interpersonal skills, and reliability.

Maintain communication: Keep candidates informed about their status in the hiring process, even if they are not selected for the position. This leaves a positive impression and maintains your organisation’s reputation in the job market.

Continuously refine your interview process: Regularly review your interview methods and questions to ensure they remain relevant, effective, and compliant with any changes in legislation or industry standards.

By incorporating these additional suggestions, you can further improve your interviewing process and increase the likelihood of finding the perfect candidate for your organisation.Effective interviewing is a critical component of the recruitment process. By following the guidelines in this guide and utilizing a combination of different question types, you can maximise your chances of finding the ideal candidate for your organisation. Remember to remain open-minded and flexible during interviews, as candidates may possess qualities or experiences that could benefit your company in unexpected ways.


Need more help?

OLG Recruitment is here to support you in finding the best candidates for your business. If you require further assistance or guidance in the recruitment process, do not hesitate to reach out to our team of professionals.

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