The ability to conduct an effective interview is a skill of all successful managers and is a core subject on most leadership training courses.
Don't make the mistake that many interviewers do, by too much about yourself. The applicant is entitled to do most of the talking - after all, you do want to learn as much as possible about him or her!
Every interview should consist of four phases: (1) contact and introductory phase, (2) interview or information phase, (3) motivation or answer phase, (4) discussion and concluding phase. The best length for each of these phases is: Phase 1 - 5 minutes, phase 2 - 20-45 minutes, Phase 3 - 20-45 minutes, Phase 4 '5 minutes
1. Contact phase. In the first five minutes of the interview, try to eliminate any tension the applicant may be feeling. Relax the atmosphere with the help of the welcoming 'ritual': "Did you have a pleasant journey?", "Did you manage to find us all right?" During this introductory phase the talking time is equally divided between the interviewer and the applicant. Do not make the introductory phase too long, otherwise the tension will begin mounting again, they can start thinking "when is he going to get to the point?"
2. Interview phase. Ask the questions and let the applicant do most of the talking. The candidate talking, as a guideline, should take up 80% of the time. Ask questions with the purpose of encouraging them to provide expansive answers and not just a yes or no answer. The use of open questions therefore is important. Start questions with: What, why, when, where, who, how and which. Be prepared to probe further is the answer is short. Create the same basic conditions for both of you by supplying two note pads and pens: "Would you like to take some notes?" This will justify any notes which you might take! Be friendly and appear interested. Begin the discussion in a positive way by talking about something in the applicant's curriculum vitae of which he or she is obviously very proud. Extend the topics under discussion by digging deeper as the interview progresses.
3. Motivation phase. This is a time for the applicant to ask questions and for you to provide him/her with information. It is important to sell the role to the applicant. Remember that the best applicants may well be faced with a choice of job opportunities. Do not waste any time and only give short answers if the applicant only asks about the canteen food or travel expenses and shows little interest. If the candidate asks professional questions, answer as extensively as you can and tell him what he should know.
Do not conduct the interview as you would sales negotiations. Do not put up a facade for the candidate. A new sales executive will react angrily if he realises that he has been given the wrong information. This may also increase the risk of a new salesperson leaving the company as soon as possible.
4. Discussion and concluding phase. During this phase you consolidate the picture you have of the applicant. Ask the applicant why this particularly job interests him or her. It is natural that questions of salary and career predominate. Begin the discussion phase with an observation which the applicant will perceive as negative, in order to strengthen your negotiating position. Conclude the interview, however, with a positive remark. Do not make any promises to the applicant - even a verbal commitment means the conclusion of a contract!
Do not waste any time on polite set phrases if you realise that the applicant does not make the grade. Nonetheless, say goodbye as politely as you possible can.
Agree on a decision-making deadline. Inform the candidate that you will discuss the outcome of the interview with company colleagues, and that it may possibly be necessary to arrange a second interview.
At the end of the interview, establish who is going to make contact with whom and when.