Interview Techniques

by Heat Recruitment

INTERVIEW TECHNIQUES – GOOD & BAD PRACTICE

Heat Recruitment have put together the following advice for employers holding interviews

Interview questions can be a tricky subject. As an interviewer you want to find out certain information that helps you assess a candidate’s skills, knowledge and abilities to perform a specific job.

Additionally you want to know that the individual you hire is not distracted by outside activities, obligations or interests that would prevent them from being a reliable, effective employee that delivers results. The issue in some cases can be in trying to obtain such information without breaching legislation, and potentially being guilty of discriminating against the interviewee.

Legal Aspects to Consider

When planning your interview make sure you aware of the latest legislation in employment law. To avoid potentially expensive and time consuming litigation you will need to ensure your questions are not leading and discriminative.

The Equality Act 2010 states that it is illegal in the UK to discriminate on the grounds the following protected Characteristics:

Age, Marriage and Civil Partnership, Religion or Belief, Disability, Pregnancy and Maternity, Sex, Gender Reassignment, Race or Sexual Orientation

This means there are certain types of questions that if asked, could be classed as discrimination and therefore should be avoided.

  • When is your birthday / how old are you? (Age)
  • Are you married with children? (Marital status)
  • Do you have any disabilities? (Disability)
  • What church do you go to? (Religion)

These questions are all illegal because they are not phrased in such a way that makes them relevant to the requirements of the position.

An Example of this would be…

If the requirement for the role is that the candidate needs to be 18 years of age (this is an Occupational Requirement) – your right as an employer ends at knowing if the candidate is over 18 years of age.

So using this example, your job as an interviewer is to tie the question back to a legal job skill requirement of the position.

Here are some possible alternatives to the questions outlined above that are not deemed to breech any current legislation:

  • Are over the age of 18?
  • Do you have any commitments that would prevent you from showing up at a regularly scheduled time on a daily basis?
  • Are you able to repeatedly lift and handle 25 lbs on a daily basis? (This needs to be part of your job description!)
  • Do you have any commitments that would prevent you from working an occasional weekend shift?
  • If you are made an offer of employment, can you provide proof of right to work in the UK?

Each question is designed to ask whether the person can meet the requirements of the job

THE MAIN TYPES OF DISCRIMINATION

DIRECT DISCRIMINATION

Treating someone less favourably than someone else on the grounds of one of the protected characteristics mentioned above. E.g. A hirer or recruitment consultancy refusing a man a role on the grounds the hirer would prefer a female receptionist.

INDIRECT DISCRIMINATION

Occurs where an individual applies a practice, which disadvantages people who share a protected characteristic. This is where recruiters need to be particularly careful when advertising job roles, as certain words could be perceived as indirectly discriminating against one party. Some examples of words that could indirectly discriminate could be:

  • Bubbly – Sex Discrimination
  • Dynamic, Energetic – Age Discrimination

Additionally, when stating the level of experience required, you need to make sure that it is justifiable in achieving a legitimate business aim. For example, stating the candidate needs 3 years experience for a sales role cannot really be justified, and could indirectly discriminate against a candidate that has gained 2 years of experience straight from education (Age discrimination)

VICTIMISATION

Makes it unlawful for one person to treat another less favourably than they would treat other people because that person has made or supported a complaint or grievance raised by another person under the act, or are suspected of doing so.

HARASSMENT

Occurs when another person engages in unwanted conduct, which may violate the persons dignity or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that person.

EXCEPTIONS

There are some exceptions where a recruitment agency or hirer may be able to discriminate, and these are known as an “Occupational Requirement” – (OR)

An example may be Chinese waiting staff for a Chinese restaurant to authenticate it’s eating experience.

Other areas where an “OR” may relate to could be:

  • Dramatic performances
  • Modelling
  • Personal welfare services
  • To preserve decency or privacy

Where a client requests a particular sex, age, race etc the consultant should always check that it is a valid and justifiable request

Persons who the act does not apply to include:

  • UK Armed Forces
  • People Employed as workers on a ships, aircrafts or hovercrafts

BEHAVIOURAL QUESTIONS

Behavioural questions are phrased in such a way to understand how a person would handle specific situations within the potential job post.

The most common technique is to probe about situations in past job experiences and ask how they handled the situation, for example:

“Can you tell me about a time when a member of your team made a critical error and you had to report it to your superiors? How did you handle telling the news to your boss and how did you handle the person on your team?”

SKILLS / COMPETENCY QUESTIONS

If a job requires a specific skill or competency, it is best to bring in an expert from your team who will be able to verify the candidate’s credentials, and will be better equipped to test their technical knowledge. If this is an entirely new position and therefore you do not have such a person within the organisation, it could be worth considering hiring a trusted consultant or adviser.

There are a number of ways to ascertain skill competencies including testing, but in an interview situation, to get the most information it’s best advised to play dumb! As the interviewer the likelihood is that you know the answers to any technical questions you ask.

By playing dumb you can extract more information from the candidate – if the question is in relation to a particular product, ask them to explain “how” and “why” it works that way, and what are the features and benefits to the customer? By responding to the candidate in this way means you are more likely to get a get a real answer from the candidate, giving you a true reading on their understanding of the topic – as apposed to a standardised and rehearsed corporate answer.

Potential Interview Questions

Heat Recruitment through years of experience of working with a number of leading organisations has accumulated and prepared a list of potential and most common Interview questions.

This list has been put together to assist you as an Interviewer, so that you can prepare yourself to ask questions that will provide a better understanding of your Interviewee. These questions will help you to breakdown, assess, analyse your Interviewee’s career history, character and personality.

Heat Recruitment recommends that you prepare possible answers to what you would expect to hear, so that you can create a grading system when comparing answers from all of your Interviewees / applicants.

Whilst this list of possible Interview questions will hopefully help you prepare, you must ensure that the questions asked are relevant to the position(s) that you are recruiting for. This will assist you in building up a picture of the ideal, competent and successful person for the role.

It is advised that where possible, Interviewing with a colleague and utilising them to take note, recording the Applicants answers is beneficial as it allows you the Interviewer to focus on asking the questions.

The following is a breakdown of the type of Questions that you can ask:

GENERAL QUESTIONS

1. Tell me about yourself.
2. What are your strengths?
3. What are your weaknesses?
4. Why do you want this job?
5. Where would you like to be in your career in five years from now?
6. What’s your ideal Company?
7. What attracted you to this Company?
8. Why should we hire you?
9. What did you like least about your last job?
10. When were you most satisfied in your job?
11. What can you do for us that other candidates can’t?
12. What were the responsibilities of your last position?
13. Why are you leaving your present job?
14. What do you know about this industry?
15. What do you know about our Company?
16. Are you willing to relocate?
17. Do you have any questions for me?

BEHAVIOURAL QUESTIONS

1. What was the last project you headed up, and what was its outcome?
2. Give an example of a time at work where you went above and beyond the call of duty
3. Can you describe a time when your work was criticised? How did you respond?
4. Have you ever been on a team where someone was not pulling their own weight? How did you handle it?
5. Tell me about a time when you had to give someone difficult feedback. How did you handle it?
6. What is your greatest failure, and what did you learn from it?
7. What irritates you about other people, and how do you deal with it?
8. Tell me about a time where you had to deal with conflict whilst at work.
9. If you found out your Company was doing something against the law, like fraud, what would you do?
10. What assignment was too difficult for you, and how did you resolve the issue?
11. What’s the most difficult decision you’ve made in the last two years and how did you arrive at the decision?
12. Describe how you would handle a situation if you were required to finish multiple tasks by the end of the day, and there was no conceivable way that you could finish them

GETTING STARTED QUESTIONS

1. How would you go about establishing your credibility quickly with the team?
2. How long will it take for you to make a significant contribution?
3. What do you see yourself doing within the first 30 days of this job?
4. If selected for this position, can you describe your strategy for the first 90 days?

CAREER DEVELOPMENT QUESTIONS

1. What are you looking for in terms of career development?
2. How do you want to improve yourself in the next year?
3. What kind of goals would you have in mind if you got this job?
4. If I were to ask your last supervisor to provide you additional training or exposure, what would she suggest?

SALARY QUESTIONS

1. What salary are you currently on?
2. What salary are you seeking?
3. If I were to give you the salary that you have requested but let you write your job description for the next year, what would it say?

EXPLORATORY QUESTION

1. How would you describe your work style?
2. What would be your ideal working environment?
3. What do you look for in terms of culture – structured or entrepreneurial?
4. Give examples of ideas you have had or implemented.
5. What techniques and tools do you use to keep yourself organised?
6. Tell me about your proudest achievement.
7. What do you think of your previous boss?
8. Was there a person in your career who really made a difference?
9. What kind of personality do you work best with and why?
10. What are your lifelong dreams?
11. What do you ultimately want to become?
12. What three character traits would your friends use to describe you?
13. List five words that describe your character.
14. Who has impacted you most in your career and how?
15. What is your greatest fear?
16. What is your greatest achievement outside of work?< 17. What are the qualities of a good leader? A bad leader?
18. Do you think a leader should be feared or liked?
19. How do you feel about taking no for an answer?
20. Tell me the difference between good and exceptional.
21. What’s the last book you read?
22. What magazines do you subscribe to?
23. What’s the best movie you have seen in the last year?
24. What do you do in your spare time?

BRAIN TEASERS

The truthtellers and the liars. It goes like this: You’re trying to get to Truthtown. You come to a fork in the road. One road leads to Truthtown (where everyone tells the truth), the other to Liartown (where everyone lies). At the fork is a man from one of those towns – but which one? You get to ask him one question to discover the way. What’s the question?

To find the way to Truthtown, simply ask the man, “Which way is your hometown?” Then go whichever way he points: if he’s from Liartown, he’ll point to Truthtown and if he’s from Truthtown, well, you get it

Calculate the number of degrees between the hour hand and the minute hand of a clock (nondigital) that reads 3:15

The hour hand will have moved – of an hour; therefore there will be 7.5 degrees between the two hands

The problem involves eight balls, one of which is slightly heavier than the others. You have a two-armed set of weighing scales to help you. You are only allowed to use the weighing scales twice and your challenge is to deduce which is the heaviest ball

Put three balls on each side of the scale. If the arms are equal, you know the heavy ball is one of the two remaining. If the arms are unequal, take the three balls on the heavier side, pick two and weigh them against each other.

You wake up one morning and there’s been a power cut / outage. You know you have 12 black socks and 8 blue ones. How many socks do you need to pull out before you’ve got a match?

To get matching socks, you need to pick three – there are only two colours, after all

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