How To Be A Top Interviewer
How you perform as an interviewer when recruiting for civil or structural engineering jobs, can be the difference between a successful hire and disaster. Here’s some advice for clients facing a round of interviews for their vacant roles
The interview process can be a nerve-wracking experience for candidates, but what about for you: the interviewer? We’re all guilty of assuming that the interviewer has the upper hand and the fate of every interviewee lies with him or her. While this may be true, decisions you make based on an interview will not only affect the candidate in front of you. They could also affect your company, business, existing employees and future: so if anyone suggests that the position of “interviewer” is not stressful, I would strongly disagree!
In my experience working in structural engineering recruitment I often find that the client – the engineering or construction firm Director or Manager – is just as nervous as the candidates. A lot can depend on a successful hire and that puts a lot of pressure on whoever is responsible for interviewing.
Getting the best out of a candidate is the key. For example, if you don’t allow the candidate an opportunity to present themselves properly, how will you know if they have the attributes you need? If you don’t ask the right questions, you won’t hear the right (or wrong) answers.
Interviewing is a skill; fortunately it is one you can learn, so here are my tips for becoming a top interviewer:
5 Tips For Interviewing Success
Identify Who You Need. By the time you get around to shortlisting candidates for interview you will already have a clear idea of the ideal candidate. This will include the nuts and bolts of what is required for the role: qualifications, skills and experience. In fact these attributes are not really that important when it comes to the interview; you’ve seen their CV, perhaps you’ve done some background checks, so you know whether they are qualified to do your job.
Instead you should be looking at who you need on your team. What personal attributes do you need from the candidate? An ambitious, driven individual? Someone with a keen eye for detail, meticulous and highly professional? A candidate who can slot into your existing team and complement those employees? These are the qualities you will need to ascertain from the interview, so be clear on what they are.
Prepare Your Questions. With the above in mind, prepare some questions that will help you discover these qualities. Competency-based interview questions can illicit the kind of responses you require to identify qualities like leadership or decision making: however if you don’t want to use this kind of framework ask the candidate to talk about particular projects and steer your questioning to determine whether they have those qualities you desire. Having a clear focus will help you uncover whether they have the experience needed.
Ask And Listen. Don’t fall into the trap of asking lots of questions and not listening properly to the responses! Equally, don’t spend too long talking about your company, the role and what you are looking for in the candidate. Not only are you wasting time repeating information they should already have, but you could be feeding them the “right” answers to your questions. Listening is a skill that interviewers need to learn, having listened carefully you will be in a much stronger position to ask insightful questions of the candidate.
Take Notes. Taking notes while someone is talking may distract you from listening properly to what they are saying, however doing so after they have finished speaking is a good way of reminding yourself of the candidate later, or for jotting a question down to ask at a more logical time. No essay writing! It can make for a very disjointed and uncomfortable interview if after every question there is a long silence as you write up a report on the candidate!
Get A Second Opinion. Making important decisions about your workforce and who you employ is not something to take lightly. Therefore, where possible, it’s always advisable to have another person present during the interview. Preferably, this person will be sufficiently senior to be involved in the interview and decision making process; however if no one of this rank is available, it’s still a good idea to get someone else in.
Whoever you choose make sure they are fully briefed on what you are looking for in a candidate, and have had an opportunity to read the candidate’s CV and covering letter. Even if your co-interviewer does not take an active role in the interview process, they should be able to offer some insights when you debrief afterwards. They can also take notes on your behalf!
If you would like help recruiting for your company please get in touch with Energi People. Not only can we find you top candidates for your civil and structural engineering vacancies, we can also advise you on interviewing techniques so you get the most out of the process.