I have to interview people, help! Give me some tips please!(8 Posts)
D H and I run a small business and we are currently recruiting a new secretary (or administrator as I believe they are now called!) I have never had to do this before so would be grateful for some tips.
I know that I cannot legally ask about marital status, sexuality, religion or children (not that I'd want to!) I know that I should ask open ended questions such as 'give me an example' or 'explain to me how'. I plan to ask why they want the job and why we should hire them. But other than that I am clueless.
The key thing for us is someone proactive, level headed, easy going and with technical skills in word, excel and basic accounting. How do I get them to prove these skills to me?
Could anyone with experience please give me some pointers as I really need to make sure we get the right person
You should base your questions on the job description, which I assume you intend to.
You're on the right lines with 'give me an example of' - avoid hypothetical questions like 'how would you deal with x' as it's too easy for them to answer that they would be excellent at it without any proof.
I would ask some technical questions about MS Office/accounting - unless you want to do an automated test? (Temping agencies used these back in the day).
Make sure there's an opportunity for them to ask questions and be clear about the next steps and timescales at the end.
I think for a role in a small organisation it's as much about finding the right personality fit as anything - I suspect you'll have a good idea of which candidate you want by the end!
Well legally you CAN ask all those things, you'd just open yourself up to potential discrimination claims if you then decided not to employ someone and they felt it was because they had children etc. So probably still best to steer clear!
In terms of the basics, I'd just ask them if they've done particular things (e.g. what sort of functions do they use in Excel) - that should give you a feel of what level they're at technically. Ask competency questions - "can you give me an example of a time when you've had to remain calm under pressure" or whatever you think might be relevant to the type of situation this person may find themself in if they were to take the job. Google comptency interview questions and I'm sure you'll find loads of examples.
A few of the other random questions I've used - "what would you like least about this job?", "what is the most important thing for you in your next role in terms of the company and their culture?", "what motivates you and makes you want to come to work?" - all those sorts of things that give you a feel for the person and what they actually want - they may be brilliant but if they won't fit in or you can't meet their expectations, they almost certainly won't stay.
But honestly, you'll make your mind up fairly quickly once you've met them - so much of it is just about whether you click on a personality level, especially if it's a small company. Use the interview to have a chat with them about the role, understand what they want and make sure they've understood what you're able to offer.
Good luck! And sorry I've waffled on a bit...
have a list of questions and write notes (or get somebody else to)
that way you can make sure you have asked all the relevant questions
re the technical skills-ask for certificates or make them sit a test
Perhaps it would be good if you interviewed jointly with DH, or someone else senior in your business, each covering a particular area and the other making notes. Agree about using competency based questions.
May be a good idea to give all candidates a short test (30-40 mins)before the interview based on the requirements of the job, e.g. drafting a letter, spotting mistakes in a draft / table etc. but let them know beforehand.
Try and give a clear overview of the role and the company e.g. at the end of the financial year we all stay late to get the books done, or we shut down between Christmas and New Year, DH and I go away every July and the person appointed will be required to cover etc. An opportunity for them to ask any questions and let them know when you aim to make a decision.
I would make them sit a test too, don't rely on certificates only.
Test the skills you want them to have e.g. accuracy, attention to detail. In the past at interview I have given candidates a letter with spelling mistakes, wrong dates and grammar and asked them to retype and format and print it out. I always include an Excel spreadsheet to sort etc too.
Make sure that candidates are aware of this - the test will be based on the skills required for the job.
Afterwards, do not be surprised if unsuccessful candidates contact you for feedback.
I would also ensure that any special job requirements i.e. staying late one evening a month are covered and that candidates realise that this is an expected part of their job role.
Think of the kind of things you want, e.g level headed and proactive and ask for examples in that area. You could use:
Give me an example when you have had to be proactive to ensure that an issue was fully resolved
Give me an example when you have had to remain calm in a stressful situation in order to ensure the end result was delivered
Talk me through a situation where you have worked with little direct supervision when completing a task you have been given.
If possible, get two people to do the interview, I know I find it hard to ask questions, make notes, think of follow up questions and listen to what they are saying.
Ask why they want to join you, rather than why they leaving where they are now. Might just be me, but I'm always looking for someone who wants to join my organisation, rather than just escape where they are now
Thank you for all theses very helpful replies, a lot of great pointers there. So sorry for my delayed response, I was temporarily exhausted by the demands of the school holidays :-)
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