A successful interview process is crucial for finding the best candidate for any role. Ensuring that interviewers are well-prepared, clear on their roles, and follow a structured interview format helps create an efficient and fair hiring process. Start with getting the structure right.
Agree on roles of interviewers and follow a process for each interview, such as:
Role and organization overview
Competency-based questioning (with follow-ups)
Summary notes and ratings
Asking all candidates the same initial competency based questions ensures relevant, comprehensive information while enabling direct comparisons to the job specification. Always be flexible and probe deeper with follow up questions.
Limit the number of questions to avoid rushing candidates: 4 questions for a 30-minute interview or 8 questions for an hour-long interview. Ask the candidate for their questions only after you’ve asked all yours.
Always, always make sure the panel review and score the candidate straight after the interview. There are always pressing client deadlines to meet, but you’ll seriously downgrade the likelihood of accurate scoring if you try to do it the next day or after other interviews have been completed. You know this! Realistically four interviews a day is enough if fitting around client work.
Make lots of notes during the interview. Don’t be shy. The person not asking that question can take notes on the responses.
After each interview, use these notes to rate each competency assessed, based on the evidence provided:
2 = Meets benchmark
1 = Partial evidence, falls short
0 = No evidence
-1 = Negative evidence
These scores can be added up for each candidate and used in conjunction with other evidence (like skills, personality and ability testing) in your decision making. Consider the weighting you place on each of the pieces of information you’re gathering.
Selection isn't an exact science. But try to avoid:
Introducing external evidence if not consistently gathered for all candidates
Subjective judgments instead of interview scoring
Ignoring agreed key job competencies. This is why you developed them
Comparing candidates to each other rather than job competencies
Over-relying on one piece of information
With the shortage of good candidates remember the interview is now more than ever a place to sell your firm to the candidate. Not only do you need to show your efficiency in the interview process, but you also need to allow time to ‘sell’ your firm and what the candidate will get from working with you. Do this after the competency based questions – it might be by then you realize the candidate is not one you want to pursue!
Running the interview and scoring the results is often not a priority area, but you can easily undo all the good work and time you’ve put in to shortlisting candidates and interviewing them, if you don’t then use the information you’ve found out to make the best decisions.
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About the Authors
Giles Pearson FCA was a PwC Partner for 18 years before jointly setting up Accountests.
Steve Evans has a whole career dedicated to enabling employers to attract, recruit, develop and retain talented individuals and teams, with particular expertise in candidate testing and assessment before setting up Accountests.
Accountests deliver the world’s only online suite of annually updated and country-specific technical knowledge tests designed by accountants for accountants and bookkeepers.