Moving up further in the hierarchy, on attaining a senior level position, he or she gets designated as the chairperson of the interview committee. Conducting any interview efficaciously is a valuable skill for any career-oriented person.
Likewise, people who are good at interviewing are also frequently called upon to serve as members of the interview panel. The following guidelines must be kept in view while conducting an interview.
1. Be Well Informed:
The interviewer should be well informed about the organization, the nature of the post, the number of vacancies, the number of candidates being interviewed and other such relevant information that is so essential for making the interview worthwhile.
In particular, the interviewer should be quite clear about the job requirements and traits that are very essential for carrying out the duties and responsibilities associated with the post. The interviewer should also have a fair idea about the job market and the demand-supply position.
2. Homework Helps:
By homework, what is meant in this context is the preparatory reading concerning the assignment. It would mean reading the advertisement calling for applications in order to know the relevant details.
It would mean knowing what kind of screening has already taken place before sending interview call letters to the candidates. It would also mean taking a quick look at the resume or biodata of the candidates being interviewed.
3. Understand Your Role:
If you are the only interviewer, the role is well defined. If you are a member of the interview panel or the interview committee, then it is essential to know what your specific role is. Are you the chairperson or a member of the committee, legal expert, economist, IT expert, etc.? If you are a subject specialist, your questions will be confined, by and large, to your area of specialization.
The chairperson and other members will normally expect you to ask questions that will bring out conceptual clarity, depth of understanding and technical competence of the candidates. If you are the head of the department where the candidate on selection will be posted, you will have to particularly assess the candidate’s suitability to meet the specific job requirements.
As the chairperson of the interview panel, however, you have the overall responsibility of ensuring that the interviews are time bound and result oriented. You have to coordinate the efforts of the other members on the panel.
You have to do the balancing in such a way that every candidate gets to answer an appropriate mix of questions. You have to take the initiative and be in command of the situation. You will have to talk to the other members of the panel beforehand and arrive at a consensus, as regards the modalities of conducting the interview.
You will have to greet the candidates as they come in and help them settle down. You will have to pass the baton to the other members. You will have to moderate the interview by intervening as and when desirable.
At the end, it is the chairperson who conveys to the candidate that the interview has concluded. After the interview, the chairperson of the committee consults with colleagues and draws up the final list of candidates based on the interview performance. The chairperson takes the responsibility of conducting the interviews and finalizing the results thereof.
4. Put Them at Ease:
The interviewer has to put the candidate at ease before shooting off questions. The candidates can be asked some preliminary personal questions that will help them settle down and establish a wavelength with the interviewer/interview panel. If need be, refer to the biodata and seek details and clarifications. Any interview is an interactive process and can progress well when both the parties are comfortable with each other.
5. Test Knowledge, Not Ignorance:
The interviewers should focus on testing the knowledge of the candidate and not the level of ignorance. The knowledge level of any person can only be limited. In any interview, it is possible to ask questions that leave the candidate baffled and demoralized. Questions must, however, be asked with a view to bring out the expanse of understanding and depth of knowledge relevant to the job on offer.
At the same time, too many unrelated questions, especially when the candidate pleads ignorance, are best avoided. One good way of testing the knowledge is to make the questions progressively tougher. Start with the easier ones and move on to the searching questions.
6. Supply of Questions:
Interviews comprise questions aimed at bringing forth the knowledge, understanding, aptitude, preparedness, attitude and suitability of the candidates. In order to facilitate asking relevant questions, the interviewer also should be equipped adequately.
A mental note should be made, or if need be a written list, of questions that would be appropriate for the interview. This exercise will be of help in many ways. First, the interviewer will have an adequate supply of questions which can be put to ten candidates till the end without resorting to repeat questions.
Second, the interviewer will be in a position to have a vast expanse covering all important areas germane to the specific interview. More importantly, as the questions are pooled together in advance, the interviewer also thinks up the correct answers, which makes the evaluation easy.
After all, if 30 candidates have to be interviewed for about 15-20 minutes each, there has to be a ready supply of a fairly large number of relevant questions available on tap.
7. Listening Skills:
Like it is for the interviewee, for the interviewer too, good listening skills are relevant. The interviewer will be facing a host of candidates during the course of the day. These candidates may come from different economic and social backgrounds, geographical regions and language groups. They may have varied accent, pronunciation and speaking style.
They may or may not be well organized and articulate. The interviewer, therefore, will have to be quite focused to comprehend what the candidates are stating and prompt them as and when required. By active listening, the interviewer contributes to the success of this interactive process.
8. Follow a Process of Elimination:
In respect of most of the interviews, the number of candidates appearing for the interview is quite large in relation to the jobs available. In order to do justice to the interview process, the interviewer will have to choose the most suitable candidates; this is also termed as the final selection zone of candidates.
In other words, the interviewer will have to consciously eliminate all those candidates falling short of the qualifying zone. When the candidates are many and the number of posts limited, the final selection can be a very challenging task. Limiting this final number by eliminating the non-qualifiers would be of great help.
9. Finalize the Performance Rating Matrix Beforehand:
After every interview, there is an evaluation. This evaluation has to be done taking into account all the relevant parameters. The selection or performance rating matrix should be clearly defined before the interview commences.
In doing so, due consultations should take place among the interview panel members themselves, as also between the interviewers and the organization/department for which recruitment is taking place. In the ultimate analysis, selection is a matching process.
The job profile and the candidate profile should agree with each other. Mismatches should be avoided. In order to achieve this, the interview evaluation sheet has to be finalized in advance, clearly stating the parameters and their relative weight ages.
All parameters may or may not carry equal marks. Both would vary depending upon whether it is an entry-level job or a senior position, customer-oriented job or a file-pushing job or a technical job or a managerial job. Relevant attributes and requirements would be evaluated.
Performance rating parameters would generally include:
1. Academic qualification
6. Age and fitness
7. Family background
9. Emotional strength
11. Communication skills
13. Computer literacy
14. General knowledge
It should also be kept in mind that quite often interview performance is only one of the criteria and not the sole criterion for the selection. Interview evaluation sheet, therefore, should contain only those parameters which can be evaluated through the interview. Other details would constitute background information to the interviewers.
10. Conduct with Dignity:
Interviewers generally have the responsibility of ensuring that the interviews are conducted in a purposeful and orderly manner. Inordinate delays, whimsical questions, questions that get too personal or which carry sexist bias, statements which denigrate candidates, impertinent jokes, temperamental outbursts and other such undesirable indulgences have to be strictly avoided.
The candidates often look upon members of the interview panel with respect and admiration and hence they have to live up to that image. Interrupting the other colleague, argumentation, boastful statements and the airing of unconnected personal views should also be eschewed while conducting the interview. On the positive side, every effort must be made to ensure that the interviews are a pleasant experience for both the parties.
11. The Ultimate Test:
Interviewers should be conscious of the fact that any interview carries with it an onerous responsibility. It has implications on the future as well as on the aspirations of the candidates. Also, the organization concerned is reposing faith in the interview panel in making an objective and merit- based recommendation.
The interview process has to measure up in terms of justice and fair play. The candidates appearing for the interview should perceive it to be fair, objective and unbiased. The ultimate test for any interviewer is an affirmative answer to the question, ‘Do the best of the candidates make it?’
In sum, any job interview is a sensitive and interactive goal-oriented communication process. The organization concerned as well as the interviewers on the one hand, and interviewees on the other, have to put in their earnest efforts to make the process fair and effective.