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How getting your interview process right can help you hire the best people for your business

By on 28.06.16 in Attracting Talent

Interviews are the way in which an organisation finds its future employees - simple? Not so much. Research shows that challenging job interviews have been statistically linked to higher employee satisfaction.

The findings discovered that the optimal interview difficulty, when measured on a five-point scale, was four out of five (one being very easy, three average and five very difficult). An increase in interview difficulty, up to a point, is associated with a rise in employee satisfaction later on. But once the interview surpasses the difficulty of four out of five, subsequent employee satisfaction drops. "The easiest two-point interviews, and the most difficult five-point interviews, are both associated with lower employee satisfaction," says the study. In other words the more rigorous the interview questions, the better the candidate fit, but don't make the experience like an appearance on Mastermind!

However let's not make the mistake in thinking that we should just ask harder questions during the process - it's about asking the right questions. Interviewers need to tax candidates to find out what they really know about the role and how skilled they are. An informal chat followed by an offer never works in the long-term. Essentially the organisation is taking on someone they've not challenged and the candidate is accepting a job they really know very little about in a company whose culture is, on a deeper level, largely unknown.

Equally an interview that is a five on the difficulty scale may be an indication to the candidate of a dysfunctional culture within the company - where such an aggressive, demanding environment will end up being damaging to employees, leading them to quit and seek a role elsewhere.

Whilst more difficult interview questions lead to higher employee satisfaction weeks, months and even years down the line, the 'feel-good' factor can be switched off as soon as those questions hit five on the difficulty scale.

Fundamentally many organisations should overhaul their interview process and the questions they ask. In our experience as recruitment consultants, we see so many candidates who have felt let-down because the interviewer seemed unprepared - having not read their CV, texting and not really challenging them on their skills and experience. The flipside of this comes from our clients who will point out that a particular candidate was under prepared and hadn't researched the company or the role properly. Neither will lead to a match made in heaven.

So what can you do?

Here are some top tips to ensure a decent outcome from an interview:

• Make sure you ask the candidate some searching questions - for example 'How have you dealt with tricky clients in the past?'
• Make sure you know the role and the skills needed for the role you are hiring for - you can't ask searching questions if you don't understand what's needed.
• Get the candidate to explain what they think the role will entail - this will reveal any knowledge gaps and will be a basis for discussion.
• Don't just ask about work - find out what motivates your candidate to get up in the mornings and what their passions are.
• If needs be, hire a professional to come in and help you overhaul your organisation's interview process and techniques.
• Lastly remind those in charge of the interview process that this will reflect how your company culture is perceived, so it's crucial to get it right!