There is always a lot of gratuitous advice available advising what to do and not do in interviews, although this has always been heavily directed toward the interviewee. In my experience, an equal amount of advice should also be passed on to potential interviewers. All too regularly, interviewers are ill prepared, ill advised and basically unsure of what to do in an interview, not to mention interviewers who ask completely inappropriate questions, some of which have been outlawed by legislation. As you would know, the days of an interviewer not having to do too much preparation for an interview, as the applicant 'should just be happy to have a face to face interview', are long gone. It is very much a mutually beneficial meeting. Here are some essential tips for conducting a successful interview.
The interviewer as a sales person
As the interviewer, it's your job to 'sell' the benefits of the company, the job and its opportunities. Most importantly, you should be able to explain why you are working there and what persuaded you to join the company in the first place. Why would a potential employee want to join you if you don't know why you're there?
You have homework too
You will expect the applicant to have done their homework about you, the job and the company, which is fair enough. But you have to as well. I am amazed by the number of interviewers who haven't even read a resume or looked at the applicant's Linkedin profile or Twitter account. The access to information is so easy in the 21st century that there really is no excuse. It looks sloppy and disorganised to approach their interview in this manner, and it's not a huge leap for them to think you work like this too.
If you book a time in your diary to meet an applicant, be on time. If you think being late shows how important you are or it's some kind of power play to keep them waiting in reception, think again. It's ill mannered and inconsiderate, implying that their time is not valuable. Most applicants' current managers are unaware that they are in the job market. They don't have the luxury of coming and going from their employment when they please.
Look the part
It's part of our job to guide an applicant on what's best to wear to an interview. It's just so disappointing when we get feedback from the applicant that their potential new employer looked like they were off to the beach or had just come in from the back shed. It happens. A lot. I understand that there are mufty days, but a bit of forewarning would be appreciated. To reiterate, you are selling the company, so you must ooze a sense of professionalism and pride.
Stick to the law
To still be writing about inappropriate questioning in 2014 is staggering. As recently as last week in our office, I heard one of our consultants refusing to answer questions from a (female) employer about a candidate's marital status, their country of birth, how many children they had (or might have...crystal ball, anyone?) and a particular favourite of mine: when the consultant refused to give the age of the candidate (she actually didn't know), she was then asked the age of the candidate's children (she didn't know that either!). This is in the category of 'I can't make this stuff up.' I know I have heard the criticism from some hiring managers that they believe they can't ask anything of potential employees anymore.
There is still plenty to ask and plenty to talk about without digging into their personal lives. I remember going to a job interview in the late 1980s and deliberately moving a ring I wore on my ring finger on my left hand over to my right hand. I wasn't married then, but I didn't want the potential employer to think I was. Being married was a precursor to the 'When are you going to have children?' question, and, as I really wanted that job, I wasn't going to leave anything to chance. No one wants to return to that happening again.