You started your business with you as the only staff member, but your business grew, giving you too much to work to do alone.
Finding the perfect employees isn’t always easy.
You could hire somebody who was great in the interview, but isn’t so great when they start working for you.
Or you could miss out on hiring the perfect employee because they weren’t so great in the interview.
It could just be that you need to improve your interviewing skills.
So here are five ways to conduct great interviews and find the right employee.
Set up the interview room
One of your goals when interviewing candidates is to make them comfortable enough to be at their best, rather than letting their nerves get the better of them and making a mess of the interview.
One of simplest ways is to conduct the interview without a table between interviewer and interviewee – you’ll look less defensive and the interview will feel more informal.
You should also think about where you sit in relation to the candidate, adapting depending on how many people are conducting the interview.
If the interview is one-to-one, sit at a right angle to each other, and if it’s two-to-one, sit in a triangle shape.
Remember, to get the most out of a candidate, you need to make them feel comfortable.
The interview should be a conversation, not an interrogation
One of the best ways of making candidates feel relaxed is if you make the interview feel more like a conversation, rather than an interrogation where you’re just giving them a grilling.
So make sure they know you’re listening to them.
Look them in the eyes (but don’t stare) when you listen to them, making sure to nod in the right places.
When you first meet them and shake hands, have a little small talk to get them comfortable. Ask how their journey to your office was, for example.
It’s a good idea to write down notes so you can ask follow-up questions, so learn how to write without watching the paper so you appear engaged with the interviewee.
Continuing the conversation – asking follow-up questions
Use your notes to ask follow-up questions.
It’ll not only give the interviewee a chance to clarify or elaborate on a point they make, it’ll also show that you’re actually listening and interested in what they have to say.
It’s a great way to get all the information you set out to find in the interview without just reading a list of pre-planned questions.
Reading from a list of pre-planned questions is the most sure-fire way to make the interviewee uncomfortable and on-edge.
How to rate the candidates
If you’re not the only interviewer, you need to consider how you’re going to rate each of the candidates fairly.
Each of you should be writing notes on each candidate during the interviews, but don’t start talking about them straight after the interview’s over.
Leave all discussions about particular candidates until they’ve all been interviewed.
Talking about a candidate right after they’ve been interviewed means you’re likely to skew each other’s opinions, so your opinion on a particular interviewee will be based on what your colleagues say, rather than what you saw with your own eyes and heard with your own ears.
Only sit in a room with each other to discuss candidates when all interviews are over, going through all of your notes.
You won’t all agree on every point, but you’ll now be in a good position to choose who to hire based on your criteria, who you think can do the best job, and who you’d be comfortable working alongside.
Don’t take the candidate for granted
Too many people in charge of conducting interviews see themselves as doing a favour for the candidate by giving them the opportunity of a job.
They forget that it’s not only the candidate with something to gain.
It’s a two-way street.
Yes, if a candidate is successful, you’ll be giving them a job.
But you’ll only be employing them because they have something your business needs.
Remember, you might have a list of criteria to find an employee who can do the job well, but you’re also looking for somebody you’ll get on with.
So do whatever you reasonably can to make each candidate feel welcome, comfortable, and show an interest in them, or at least pretend to show an interest in them.
That’s how you give each interviewee the best chance of showing themselves at their best.
Shoaib Aslam is the co-founder of Pearl Chartered Accountants, a UK-based chartered accountancy firm that has multiple locations across London. They are experts in helping startups and established businesses with all aspects of growth, strategy, scaling up, accounting and tax planning.