This might seem preposterous, but in our work as one of the best recruitment agencies in Gujarat and while collaborating on talent hunts with other recruitment agencies in India, we have found that many recruiters work hard to interview their applicants, but lose track when interviewing face-to-face.
Different humans have different personality traits and capacities of influence, and it is not uncommon to face candidates who can exert enough influence to make an interviewer lose track of his objectives.
This is why, besides understanding the job functions and job requirements of an open position and besides preparing lists of competency based questions or behavioral questions – it is essential for a recruiter to prepare an interview format and keep the interview on track.
Why recruiters use interview formats
Quite often, even experienced recruiters are hit by common dilemmas of interviewing. Which question should be asked first? Should they jump right in with competency based questions? If so, what should be the first question? Should the interviewer begin by providing some information about the job and the company? How much information to give? What is the correct order to give and receive information? How can a recruiter keep encouraging interviewees to keep talking but still keep them on track? How to end the interview?
Preparing an interview format is necessary so that recruiters do not face dilemmas during interviews.
Formats provide structures to interviews. They are beneficial both to recruiter and candidates, and they provide a checklist to interviewers to make sure that all necessary information has been gathered through the interview.
Five main areas of any interview format
Whatever format may be used in an interview, it can generally be broken down into five critical phases.
- Introductory remarks: This phase is all about introducing each other and conveying what the candidate can expect for the next hour or so. The tone of the meeting is set during introductory remarks, and while this may seem overly formal, it removes any ambiguities about the content of the interview. It also signals to candidates that the interviewer is in control.
- Introductory questions: Questions about an applicant’s work history and education, and how they relate to present job requirements. Other questions related to suitableness of a candidate are also asked during this phase.
- Providing information: Providing clear information about the job opening, the compensation package, the responsibilities, and the benefits of the position when working in this particular organization.
- Answering questions: Answering the candidate’s questions about the job and the organization.
- Informing the applicant about next steps: Ending the interview on a positive note and informing the candidate on his or her next options, or what the organization expects in the next phase. The final stage is extremely important for the interviewer. At this phase the interviewer also has to ask himself or herself: Have I gathered enough information to determine job suitability? Have I provided enough information about the organization and adequately described the job? Have I discussed salary, growth opportunities, and other related topics that the organization wants me to discuss? Have I allowed the applicant to ask questions and receive answers? At the summing up phase, the interviewer not only has to sum up an interview to the candidate, but also to himself or herself for recruitment efforts to be successful.
Actually, steps 2-4 above do not need elaboration to interviewers, but our work with placement agencies in Gujarat show that somehow, most get it wrong in the first and last phases of an interview, and these are the most critical.
There is no set pattern to an interview format, however these five critical phases remain in any primary interview and the sequence between stages 2-4 are altered according to need, or they blend into each other, while the first and fifth stage are left virtually unchanged.