The Art of Job interviewing

Structured interviews have been proven to be twice as effective as unstructured interviews. But what are they? Well, in a structured interview every candidate is asked the same questions, all interviews follow the same order (phone call, onsite interview, trial day), while an unstructured interview is spontaneous and doesn’t follow any structure at all. That sounds fun, but it makes it hard to compare candidates. Not only that, biases could run loose (we’ll get into that later). That's why we prefer semi-structured interviews in which you use an interview agenda to structure your conversation but don't script every question in advance. ‍Creating an interview checklist and scorecard might sound like a lot of work, and putting all this in place will take more preparation time. But if you get this process right, you will seriously boost your chances of making the right hire for every future position.

After each interview you put your findings into a scorecard. This allows job interviewers to score an applicant's interview in a consistent way that allows for a fair comparison of candidates. And that’s what it’s all about, really.

Based on your job brief you create a scorecard, a simple overview where you can score all candidates on skills, values, motivation and everything else you think is important for the job. Make sure to include all stages of your interview process (assignments and interview rounds) in your scorecard, so you have an overview of all your team's findings when you compare candidates. ‍Note: Don't use your scorecard during the interview, that's where the interview checklist comes in. More about that below.

After creating your score card it's time for the interview checklist. This is a simple list with everything you need to cover during the interview. It's where you write your notes and what you use when filling in the score card after the interview. Even though you use your checklist, there shouldmore than enough room for spontaneity, so you get the best of both worlds.

Things you might want to include:

• Introduction to the company

organisational structure, mission, vision, strategy‍

• Areas you’d like to discuss based on your hiring values

that are based on your company values‍

• Areas you'd like discuss based on the desired skillset for the position requirements, responsibilities, hopes for the future

• What the candidate journey looks like

who does the interviews, how many interviews, is there an assignment?‍

• Practicalities
salary expectation, possible starting date, perks and benefits

• Next steps

Are there other candidates, time frame

Pro tip:There are lots of question techniques out there that claim to help you find out whether the candidate possesses specific skills that you’re after. Our preferred technique is STAR.

Facing a whole bunch of people across a table during an interview can be really intimidating, so never go into an interview with an interview team bigger than two. ‍It's important to carefully select the two team members who will do the interview. We strongly recommend that you invite at least one colleague who will work closely with the future hire, preferably a team lead or a senior, so they can get a good look at their future colleague and ask (and be asked) insightful questions. For those of you new to the Hiring team: it's the group of colleagues responsible for successfully hiring a new team member. They're involved in the recruiting, interviewing and selection process. The number of people involved and their responsibilities may differ from company to company and job to job, however, the roles typically include:- HR manager- Recruiter- Team LeadOne of the team members is the facilitator who makes sure everything happens on time, in the right way.

Find a location that fits your company values and the job opening. We know some companies who let the candidate choose the location for the first interview and others who love to do their interviews in a café - it’s completely up to you, just make sure you feel comfortable there and that it relates to your company. If all this sounds a bit strange, then doing the interview at your office is great too. ‍Finally, it may sound obvious, but don't forget to make sure that there will be coffee, tea and other refreshments available.

Sometimes you meet a candidate for the first time and you're convinced it's the right person for your team. If you're confident enough about your gut feeling to vouch for this candidate, that makes you the loop Champion. From now on you're the hiring manager for this specific interview loop. This means that you will be available throughout the interview process to make the candidate feel safe and welcome. The loop Champion makes sure that communication with the candidate is good, promises are kept, and the candidate knows what to do and expect throughout the process. If this sounds like a lot, don't worry - not every hiring process needs a loop champion. Only make room for one when you're really, really enthusiastic :)

Most of the interview experts we talked to always do a quick phone interview before sending out invitations for the first face-to-face interview. In a short call (15-20 minutes is enough) they ask the candidate for a short personal introduction and their salary expectations. This ensures that both the candidate and the employer are on the same page before they (potentially) meet for the first time.‍Here are a few things that we suggest discussing during the call:- Why this company?- Why this position?- Candidate experience- Candidate expectations- Salary indication

It's a great idea to introduce the interview process to your team. Show them how to use it, tell them what to look for during an interview and explain the importance of semi-structured interviews. Remember, the more structured, the less biased :)

You look forward to going to work every morning and every candidate should be equally excited about coming to join your team. The best way to show them why is to share the values and vision that make your company unique. Nobody knows these better than you and your team, so get together to discuss which rituals and work best represent you. Once these are clear, everyone in the team can sell the company to anyone.

The interview team shouldn't share their opinions, notes and scorecards with each other until they’ve documented their findings in your hiring software (like Homerun, for example). This will help make sure that they don’t influence each other’s opinions.

We’re all human, and we’re all biased, so the best thing to do is just accept this. To stay as neutral as possible during the interview process, identify what your biases are in advance and try to be constantly conscious of them. It helps to keep an eye on your scorecard so you don’t lose focus or get blindsided. ‍Another way to avoid bias is to always back up your opinion with rational statements when discussing candidates and their qualities with your colleagues. Not only will this make you sure about your gut feeling (or not), but it will help convince your colleagues to

1. First-impression errorAllowing an initial judgment of a candidate — good or bad — to affect one’s feedback or decision.

2. Groupthink
Allowing the opinions of others — good or bad — to affect one’s feedback or decision.

3. Halo-horn effect
Allowing one major strength or weakness of a candidate to affect the overall feedback or decision, rather than thinking holistically.

Applying for a job is a scary thing. The more someone is at ease, the better impression of them you'll get. The best way to do this is to give your candidate a wonderful experience during your hiring process. The best way to start is to follow these steps after you've selected the candidates for the first round of interviews.

Make sure the candidate knows when and where the interview will take place and what they can expect in the interview. Explain the process and cover how many interview stages there will be. Telling candidates this - and who are they having the interview with and which topics will be covered - will help them relax and let both sides be at their best on the day.

Preparation is good for both sides! What this will be depends on which stage of the process you're at. At the start, you might just ask the candidate to do some reading, so send some information about your company together with any relevant good reads. If you want to get a taste of their talent, set them a small task in advance of the interview - but make sure it matches the job type. For example, at Homerun we always ask people to create a free demo account to make them familiar with our product. At a later stage of the process you may decide to add a more detailed (and demanding) assignment.