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How not to conduct interviews

Interviewing may be a crucial part of recruitment, but ensure your talks go to plan with our advice on what to avoid when speaking to your next candidate.

There are numerous rules about what you can and can't do or say in an interview, but the most important thing to remember is to give everyone a fair shot. Careful planning needs to go in to your questions and process to ensure you conduct the interview fairly and get the best out of all candidates. So, here are some key features for how not to conduct an interview

First impressions count but don't be too quick to judge. Listen to the content of the candidate's conversation. Shyness does not mean a candidate can't do the job, while good communication skills do not necessarily reflect greater overall competency

Avoid questions on personal preferences which do not relate to the role. Whilst people are more likely to like those who are like them, if there is no relevance to the job role this kind of talk may unconsciously sway your judgement.

Avoid ad-lib questions. Questions should be prepared in advance to be relevant to the job role and qualities you are looking for. The same script should generally be followed for each candidate. The greater the standardisation of the interview, the more meaningfully you can compare the candidates.

Avoid dead-end questions and closed questions: if a candidate struggles answering a certain question and has not provided enough information, make sure you have a follow-up question relating to the same point.

Don't slip in to monologues. The interview must allow ample time for the candidate to talk to you. A good ratio of employer/candidate talking is 20/80.

Do take notes, but keep them professional. Not only will it help you remember specifics about each candidate, but applicants are entitled to request copies of any notes taken or scores made during the recruitment process, and you need to be able to provide this if asked.

Don't glamorise the job. Never make promises about career progression, pay or bonuses that can't be kept. Be candid, including any long shifts or less-than-glamorous duties. In a worst case scenario the new hire feels as though they have been mis-sold a position and leaves, costing you more time and money to re-recruit

Don't ask irrelevant personal questions. You need to tread very carefully when finding out more information about the person behind the CV, as many things could be construed as discrimination – marital status, sexuality, family relationships etc. Stick to purely job-relevant questions, and remember to treat all candidates equally.

As we said at the start, there's plenty to remember not to do or say in an interview, but the most important thing is to be fair and give everyone their chance to impress. Keep this in mind and it's a lot easier!

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