How to conduct the perfect interview - and hire the right person for the job
Finding the right person to join your team is crucial for the success of any organisation. The interview process is your chance to explore your mutual fit - assessing if the individual has the skills, experience and cultural fit necessary for you. At the same time, the candidate will be figuring out whether they want to join your organisation.
It’s important to put your best foot forward, but you should also be upfront and honest about your organisation and the role - the good, the bad and the ugly. (Which is why an accurate EVP is essential for attracting the right talent… but that’s a subject for another blog.)
Remember - the worst result of a recruitment campaign isn’t failing to hire. It’s hiring the wrong person. And the worst result of hiring the wrong person isn’t if they quit on day two. It’s if they stay.
Before you get to the interview process, you should…
Articulate your EVP
Your employee value proposition (EVP) is your “why work for us” statement. It outlines clearly and honestly why you’re a great choice for the right people (and why you’re a bad fit for the wrong people). Whether you’ve invested in developing your EVP or not, it’s important you have some understanding of the value you offer to potential candidates - and how to articulate that in an interview.
Write a great job ad
If you’re offering a unique opportunity, why does your job ad sound like every other listing on SEEK? Make sure you personalise the ad for the role and audience, use engaging and inclusive language, and start talking about your values and culture from the start. We know it can be tough, so here are our top 5 tips for writing a great job ad (with examples from our own successful hiring campaign).
Know where to promote
Find out where your audience is, and target your job ad to them. Get strategic about your channels - for example, you could post your job ad in industry Facebook groups (this is especially popular in human and community services) or use the trendier social media platforms if you’re recruiting Gen Z talent. Consider asking your current people to share with their networks (bonus points if you can encourage them to create employee-generated content).
5 tips to boost your interview process
As a small business that’s growing steadily, we’re pretty familiar with recruiting (not to mention all the ways we support clients in this space). In the past six months, we’ve had six incredible people join our team. Our Senior Strategist, Kirsty Heigan, has been instrumental in the interview process and onboarding of our new team members, so I sat down with her to get her top tips.
Lead with values and culture
You’re a truly unique organisation, and your people, values and culture will set you apart from even your most similar competitors. Talk about these things throughout the candidate journey, in your job ads, interviews, and beyond. And while it’s important to talk about the good moments and benefits, it’s also important to showcase your challenges and the “work in progress”.
Kirsty says: “From a fun video of our CEO on LinkedIn to the humour we inject into our job ads, we always make an effort to show our personality and what that means for the candidate. Once we get to interviews, we focus on showing the candidate who we are today and who we’re on track to become. While we talk about the wins, the highs, the impact, and the scale of the work we do, we are honest in our approach and discuss what they may not like about the role. We know these things will excite the right candidate, and will help those who aren’t right for the role make their decision.”
Mutual curiosity is key
Your interview shouldn’t just be about convincing someone to join you - it should be both parties assessing your mutual fit. You won’t be right for everyone, and that’s okay! Ask questions that go beyond the skills and qualifications of the candidate, and see what they hope to get out of their next role. Encourage them to ask questions about your organisation in return.
Kirsty says: “I personally find one of the most rewarding parts of the interview process is talking about the things EBA is working on and why this isn’t the right workplace for some people. It’s a chance for us to be really honest and for the candidate to be more confident that they’re making the right choice. It’s great that the traditionally ‘behavioural’ part of the interview can be turned around and done for us as an organisation, too.”
Get real about your must-haves
Of course, there will probably be some essential qualifications or experience levels required for your new hire in order to set you and them up for success. But often, the long list of dot points isn’t entirely necessary. We suggest cutting this down to your top priorities and being open about things that aren’t on your list.
Kirsty says: “We’re building an exciting business and have a chance to mould some parts of the job to suit the skills and ambitions of candidates. Our interviews are quite collaborative, and the focus is, ‘What can we build together?”
Templates are a hiring manager’s best friend
Often, hiring managers are time poor. Having templates for candidate communications and interview questions are a great way to save time and refine the process while still providing a great experience to the candidate. Just make sure you don’t rely on templates so much that you lose your authenticity.
Kirsty says: “While we do have baseline templates, these are dialled up or down depending on the context and the role. When we reach out to candidates, we have sections about examples of work, the impact of the role, and EVP messaging that usually stay the same. But we also personalise our communications, especially if it’s someone we’ve connected with through our networks or social media. It’s all about striking the right balance.”
Candidate experience carries on
What are the most important next steps after the interview? Choosing the right candidate (or candidates) to join your team will be top of mind, but don’t forget about the other people you engaged with throughout the process. They may not be right for you now, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be in the future. They’re also likely to tell their peers about their experience, so it’s important to keep it positive. Feedback and talent pooling are key here (which is why we partner with LiveHire, the best in the business).
Kirsty says: “We respond to every candidate, every time. This is an absolute non-negotiable for our team. Feedback is such an important part of our process, and it goes both ways - we invite candidates to tell us how they feel throughout. We meet so many talented and engaged people who could all offer something to strengthen our team, so even if they are unsuccessful this time, there is an opportunity to re-engage later.”
Interviewing effectively is crucial to hiring the best person for the job and ensuring the success of your business. Remember, the goal should be to clearly communicate your organisation’s values and goals and the opportunities of the role to attract candidates who align with your mission.
Need a hand shaping your employer brand to attract great talent? Get in touch and we’ll show you how.