Preparing for the interview
The first key element of a well-structured and successful interview process is preparation. Remember that it is not just the candidates who are being selected - its important that you make a good impression too. A professional and well-organised selection process can go a long way towards ensuring this.
Preparing for the interview should include the following:
- Ensuring all members of the panel are familiar with, and have copies of, the applications of those being interviewed and the job description/ person specification in advance. It is also worth ensuring that you are familiar in general terms with the relevant terms and conditions of employment and employee benefits.
- Developing an interview plan and ensuring that all member of the panel are familiar and comfortable with their role. This should be structured to include introductions and preliminaries, the questions to be asked, running order and who is asking what.
HR will work closely with you on the process and co-ordinate the following:
- Developing an interview schedule with realistic timings including a 5-10 minute break between each candidate. This should also include any other selection methods that will be taking place;
- Inviting the candidates in writing (normally by e-mail), confirming full details of what the selection process will involve.
- Chasing confirmation of attendance;
- Taking up references for all candidates whom you invite for interview (for Research and Teaching vacancies only);
You will need to liaise with HR to identify who will take responsibility for organising the following ‘local’ logistics:
- identifying selection panel members, establishing availability and finalising a date;
- booking a suitable venue and ensuring it is set up properly on the day;
- booking any refreshments and equipment;
- devising tests and presentation titles;
- 'Meeting and greeting' the candidates on the day.
If you request assistance from the Faculty/ Division HR Team with some or all of this activity, for instance if there is no suitable venue locally or if you have no admin/ secretarial support available, then it will be provided wherever operationally possible. The Faculty/ Division HR Team may also be more involved if a more complex assessment centre process has been adopted or if psychometric tests are to be used
The interview setting
This is mostly common sense but easy to overlook nevertheless. When choosing a venue and setting the room up:
- Try to eliminate distractions - ensure any telephones are diverted, avoid busy places with lots of people walking by or talking within earshot;
- Place an "interviews in progress" sign on the door;
- Think about whether you want to avoid physical barriers such as a desk between you and the interviewee to encourage a more relaxed discussion. If you are more comfortable with a table to rest on, even having a round rather than a square table can help to do this.
Issues that may arise at the preparation for interview stage
- If a candidate is being invited from abroad, attending the interview will usually incur significant travel and accommodation costs (such costs are met from the central recruitment budget held by HR). As an alternative a video-conference or other virtual link for the interview may be feasible.
- If someone you invite for interview can't make the date or time set, although you are not necessarily obliged to re-arrange their time or date, it is recommended that you at you at least consider whether you can accommodate their needs. If the candidate is unable to attend due to child-care responsibilities, a disability issue or even a religious holiday then you may be potentially discriminating if you do not take this into account. If the reason is a holiday or other commitment, then you will need to make a pragmatic decision as to whether re-arranging is feasible.
- If a member of the panel has a family or non-work related social connection with any of the candidates invited for interview, they should declare this to the Chair of the selection panel at the earliest opportunity before the interviews take place. The Chair will then need to make a judgment as to whether the individual should remain part of the process or be replaced. Normal academic or professional contact, which may involve a degree of social contact, would not normally be a reason for excluding someone from the process.