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Unless you are a very small business indeed, it is a truism that a company is only good as it’s staff, meaning that who you take on which have an enormous impact on your success as a business.  Your staff will interact with your customers, carry out essential daily tasks and basically be the cogs of your organisation.  In today’s market, there are plenty of applicants with a whole host of skills and talents, but choosing the right candidate for the role is vital.  Interviewing is therefore a technique you should understand and learn from.  No matter how much you like someone in an interview, experience, adaptability and of course crucial skills are what are important.
However you recruit, you will need to carry out some initial screening.  If you choose to use a recruitment agent, then it is likely that they will do a vast amount of the initial work, but you will still need to process the CVs they forward on.  If you are advertising a position, you may find you receive a flood of applicants for each position.
Before you begin screening, it is vital that you examine your criteria, ensuring you know which skills are more important and what sort of experience you are looking for.  It is often a wise idea to share the load of then comparing applicants to this criteria, both to balance out large workloads, and to act as a check or second opinion on candidates who may offer skills you hadn’t thought of.
It is incredibly important to make sure that whoever is selecting candidates will not have a prejudice or bias based on gender, race, religion or race.  Some exceptions exist, but these are few and far between and if they apply to your industry then get legal advice to ensure you follow guidelines.  Otherwise, equal opportunities are of course a very important issue, and one which should not be ignored.  Quite apart from the fact that this will leave you wide open for possible tribunal action; it will also deprive you of candidates who could well be a real asset to your business.
It is considered courteous to send a letter or even email to unsuccessful applicants advising them of why they haven’t been invited for interview; this will also enable you to keep a proper record should there be any problems later on regarding equal opportunities.  This may not be practical if you have been overwhelmed with responses from advertising, but it is wise to keep applications and any response on file for 12 months; after which time any claim of discrimination may not be raised.
Once you have created your shortlist, you can begin to arrange interviews.  You may prefer to telephone the candidate, or inform them in writing; checking if there are any special requirements on their part to ensure you are providing equal opportunity for all.
Before interviews begin, decide on a structure to ensure neither you nor the candidate ramble off on a tangent, and make a note of all the relevant information you require.  Much of the information will revolve around the candidates experience, so you might like to ask questions regarding previous employment; skills based questions to gauge a level of knowledge or perhaps adaptability.  Start your interview with an introduction, so that the candidate is aware of the specifics of the role, and the company.  This will hopefully also allow them to relax more and give you a better indication of their listening skills and slightly more natural persona.  Ask specific questions to really get a feel for how the candidate works on a day to day basis, and don’t be afraid to tease out personality as well as aptitude.  A good candidate should always have intelligent, competent questions.  These will show the research put in by the candidate, giving you an idea of their enthusiasm for the role, and may give you further insight into the depth of their knowledge.  Finding the right job is as important to most candidates as it is for you to find the right person, so someone with well thought out questions is more likely to be committed to finding the right role for them, indicating a more long term prospect and higher levels of commitment.
Close the interview on a friendly note.  If you are interested in the candidate, find out what their notice period is, and give them an indication of the next part of the process, i.e.  second interviews, success letters and the timescale involved.
After you have completed your interviews, review your notes, remembering to reflect once again on the initial criteria for the role, and begin to whittle down a shortlist.  Notify your successful applicants, and do unsuccessful applicants the courtesy of informing them of your decision promptly, explaining the reasoning behind your choices and informing them if you will be keeping them on file for any further postions.
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