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With the current climate as it is, the old-fashioned face to face interview may not be the same again, be it virtual interviews, social distancing face to face interviews or assessment centres. With more people now working from home and less unlikely to return back to office-based working, now more than ever is a great time to think about evaluating your processes including tightening up your recruitment criteria.

Asking the same questions of every candidate

The interview process may feel monotonous but it’s crucial to have a set list of questions you ask all candidates so you have a baseline assessment to work from. It’s good to ask the set questions at the beginning of the interview as this gives the start of the process a formal structure and ensures the most vital information is extracted before anyone loses focus. You can use the answers given to the set questions to shape what comes next. It may be quickly evident that the candidate is unsuitable for the role or perhaps their answers need further exploration.

Asking non-work questions

There’s a fine line between asking personal questions to build a wider picture of an interviewee’s character and professional discrimination. Off limit questions include anything about marital status, sexual persuasion, age, parental responsibilities and desires, religious beliefs and trade union/political affiliations. If you feel knowing a bit more about a candidates’ life outside of work would build a more rounded picture, refer to the CV. Ask people about any hobbies or interests that they have listed, or enquire whether there are any social activities or clubs at their current company that they are involved with.

Asking unexpected questions

There are hundreds of online articles advising candidates how to give the perfect interview and listing the most commonly asked questions but coaching can lead to scripted answers that reveal very little about the person sat in front of you. Asking unexpected but relevant questions will give you an indication of how the person handles pressure and whether they’d be a good fit for your company. Some more unconventional lines of questioning include asking how their current co-workers would describe them; what would be the first three things they’d like to learn on their first day at the company and what training or development they would most like to embark on.

The questions don’t have to be work-related either. Employers have disclosed some very leftfield enquiries designed to see how creative a candidate is, whether they think on their feet and how much they take themselves seriously. Some of the most original questions include: “If you were a kitchen utensil, what would you be?”, “How would you describe the colour yellow to a blind person?” and “How weird are you on a scale of 1 to 10?”.

Testing candidates

If you are interviewing for an audio typist, no one would bat an eyelid if you asked the interviewee to conduct a ‘words per minute’ typing test but where does recruitment sit with asking candidates outside of clerical positions to undertake tests?

Aptitude, concentration, skills and psychometric tests provide a counterbalance to a CV, and give a better insight into a person’s openness to criticism, potential, ability, flexibility, aspirations and work ethics. What tests you employ will be shaped by your sector and the role you are advertising but there are, however, more unconventional tests that may help you make informed decisions.

Tests with no right answer

Some companies use problem-solving tasks to evaluate a candidate’s approach, preferring to watch their reaction and approach rather than caring whether they solve the task. Giving someone a Rubik’s Cube to sort is a good example.

Social tests

If the submitted CVs have allowed you to whittle down candidates with the right qualifications and skills, your interview may be to discover who could be the best social fit within your company. At one end of the scale is exposing the candidates to the team they would be working with directly after the interview to see how they interact but there are more leftfield tests, with some companies inviting interviewees to join them in a game of table tennis to measure their character and attitude to winning.

Interviews are a really great way to promote your brand, having well-trained interviewers promoting your company and conducting interviews gives the best experience to potential candidates whether they get the job or not and they will continue to promote your name in the marketplace as a having had a great experience and being a great place to work. Equally a bad interview or bad experience as we all know can spread and have a detrimental effect both on your brand, future recruitment and bottom line.

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