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How to conduct a successful interview

By CCIWA Editor

The objective of a job interview is to learn enough about a candidate to be able to assess their qualifications and attributes, determine if they match the job requirements, predict future-on-the-job performance and to gauge if they would fit in with the organisational culture.

This information can then be used to make an informed hiring decision or recommendation.

The following information highlights the costs that may result from poorly conducted interviews as well as providing guidance on correct interview procedures.

Equal opportunity and discrimination

The Fair Work Act 2009 extends workplace rights and protection against adverse action to prospective employees. This means that if a prospective employer takes adverse action against an employee, for example they do not offer the prospective employee the position, and the prospective employee believes that this adverse action was taken based on discriminatory grounds, then the prospective employee may make a general protections claim with the Fair Work Commission.

There is no limit on the amount of damages that can be rewarded as a result of a successful general protections claim, which means that a poorly conducted interview can be extremely risky to employers.

Questions, even in a social context, should not be asked if they relate to the candidate’s:

  • age
  • race
  • sexual preference
  • marital status
  • family or caring responsibilities
  • physical and mental health
  • religious beliefs
  • pregnancy
  • political opinion.

In some circumstances, questions relating to some of the above may not be classed as discriminatory if they represent genuine qualifications essential for the position. For example, a church may ask a potential minister about their religious background.

The costs of poor recruitment

Recruitment and selection can be a costly exercise if the best person for the job is not selected from the outset. Extra time and money may need to be spent on training and/or performance management, business targets may not be reached while the employee is not performing, profits or business levels may decrease, and if the employee is consequently terminated, or resigns due to the pressures of the job, then further expenses will be incurred in conducting another recruitment and selection exercise.

What to consider before the interview

Know the position you are hiring for

The interviewer(s) should have a sound understanding of the position that they are recruiting for including the qualifications, skills and competencies required to effectively perform on the job. The interviewer should be prepared to answer any questions that the candidate may have about the job throughout the selection process. The more information a candidate has about a position, the more they are able to make an informed decision regarding their desire for, and the ability to succeed, in the role.

Select the interview panel

Consider how many interviewers will be present. The more perspectives that can be provided on a candidate’s interview performance and application, the smarter the selection decision will be. If there will be more than one interviewer present, ensure each knows what part they will play during the interview, and what questions they will ask and the order they will ask them.

Each interviewer should have a basic knowledge of the candidate being interviewed by having familiarized themselves with the candidate’s resume and/or job application.

The location of the interview

Consider the location where the interview will be held. A friendly, informal setting such as the interviewer’s office or a nearby café may put the candidate at ease and generate a more open and honest conversation.

Keep the questions relevant

Prepare the questions ahead of the interview and ensure they are relevant to the job and required qualifications. Questions may relate to previous work experiences or skills acquired that will translate to the position on offer.

Maintain consistency

While each interview will differ slightly based on the responses provided by candidates, the procedures and assessment methods (eg rating scales) used to make a selection should be consistent and fair.

Questioning techniques

Behavioural questions are the most commonly used questions in job interviews as it has been found that future on the job performance can be predicted based on previous workplace behaviours and experiences. Behavioural questions require the candidate to give examples from their past experience and describe how they used specific skills that are relevant to the job.

With each example or response provided by the candidate, the interviewer should ask additional probing questions such as how and why in order to identify a pattern of behaviour. If a candidate initially responds to behavioural questions with falsified examples, then they will not be able to expand on them when asked how or why they did something in a particular way.

The following types of questions may be used, depending on the information you require:

  • hypothetical – gets the candidate thinking on their feet
  • closed questions – used to gain technical or specific information, or yes/no answers
  • open questions – used to get the candidate to speak freely about a particular topic
  • leading questions – the answer seems logical and is indicated in the question
  • multi-barrelled – two or more questions relating to the same topic.

For more information contact CCI’s Employee Relations Advice Centre on (08) 9365 7660 or email [email protected].

The objective of a job interview is to learn enough about a candidate to be able to assess their qualifications and attributes, determine if they match the job requirements, predict future-on-the-job performance and to gauge if they would fit in with the organisational culture.

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