Business owners looking to hire a new employee will, in most cases, plan to conduct interviews to determine which candidates are the right fit for the business. Therefore, it’s important to establish interview guidelines to not only ensure all parties are comfortable, but to create an environment where everyone feels properly represented. Different businesses have distinct requirements and demands, so developing specific and relevant interview guidelines is a sure way to an effective interview process in securing the right person for the right job.

Have you established the requirements of the role?

Before any interviews are conducted, it’s important to work out the specific requirements of the role being recruited for. Once these are established, the next step is to prioritise each of these requirements. In an ideal world the perfect candidate would come along with all of the skills and attributes listed in the position description, but in a tough labour market, employers need to be realistic and manage their expectations. Flexibility during the hiring process is essential and by having a pre-determined set of prioritised requirements, it’s much simpler to track each candidate and their overall suitability to the role to ensure the right person is selected.

Who is part of your selection process?

When interviewing potential employees, having a diverse team as part of the selection process not only supports a fairer assessment, but it can also help candidates to feel comfortable throughout the process; and it’s likely that a broader range of candidates will feel more welcome and represented which can only be a good thing. The more diverse the hiring team, the more holistic the approach in assessing different candidates, the particular skills and attributes they have, and their suitability for the role and within the business.

Creating a welcoming environment is key

First and foremost, the candidate should feel comfortable during the interview process. Employers need to make it a priority to create a welcoming and distraction free environment in which to conduct the interview. Whether it’s a one-on-one or panel interview, the candidate should feel that the interviewer is giving their full attention. Privacy is also important so a room with a door that can shut, or a separate space away from other people, is ideal. Those conducting interviews should also avoid managing other tasks while interviewing and ask questions to ensure the candidate is comfortable before beginning the interview.

What you can (and can’t) say to or ask a candidate?

The aim of the interview is to get to know the candidate, but there are some questions that are inappropriate to ask. Besides making the interviewee feel uncomfortable, certain topics are actually unlawful and should not be raised during an interview. These include:

Age – Employers should avoid asking candidates details about age or make any assumptions in relation to maturity. Instead, candidates should be advised that if they are successful in securing the role, they will be required to provide identification documents which, of course, will include a date of birth and other identifying factors.

Disability – Employers may ask a candidate about their ability to perform work with or without reasonable accommodations, however, it is not acceptable to ask a candidate about any disabilities.

Race Employers should avoid any questions about a candidate’s race, colour or heritage, and should focus instead on any relevant skills and background pertaining to the role.

Religion – It is not acceptable to ask candidates about religious beliefs, however, employers may request details on any days the candidate may need off for religious reasons.

Gender – Employers are entitled to ask if the candidate has worked using other names, but it is important not to make any assumptions about gender. It’s always advisable to ask candidates for their preferred pronouns.

Family status – Employers should refrain from asking questions about family members such as children, parents or siblings, but if the candidate is interested in family-orientated conversation, employers can certainly participate.

Relationships – Although candidates may offer up information in relation to personal relationships, employers should avoid asking about a candidate’s current relationship or marital status.

Physical features – Employers should avoid commenting on the candidate’s physical appearance, and should instead focus on their abilities and experiences related to the position.

Be sure to document the interview process

It’s vital to take notes during the interview, as this allows employers to record the thoughts and opinions at the time of the meeting. This makes it easy to refer back when reviewing each candidate’s information, especially in instances where the hiring process has been long and many candidates have been interviewed.

Check your body language

During an interview, employers may be impressed or surprised by a candidate’s responses. It’s important to maintain neutral body language in these moments by controlling facial expressions and avoiding sudden movements. It’s also essential to maintain open, calm and friendly body language throughout the interview such as facing the candidate and maintaining a comfortable level of eye contact; avoid negative body language such as crossing your arms, facing away from the candidate, staring or avoiding eye contact all together, overusing hand gestures and being too animated.

Are all of the interview questions relevant to the role?

The most important aspect when developing interview guidelines is to ensure all of the questions are relevant to the job. Employers should avoid bringing up personal or unsuitable topics, and any questions asked should be related to the duties and responsibilities of the role to determine the candidate’s suitability. Not only does this offer protection from unlawful actions during the interview process, but it helps to improve overall efficiency in securing the right person for the right job.

Want assistance developing interview guidelines and supporting documentation to ensure a smooth interview process in your workplace? Get in touch with our team, we can help. Find our articles helpful? Remember to follow us on Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn to keep up to date with our practical tips and information for business owners and managers.