8 tips to maximise your chances of recognising and hiring top talent.

An interview conducted well can result in employment of superior talent which can be invaluable in achieving a competitive edge. Done badly, an interview can result in the employment of a dud who is a drag on the business for months or even years.

Here are 8 tips to assist in you developing an interview style to maximise your chances of recognising and hiring top talent.

1. Determining the skills and experience required to perform the job at hand. First and foremost identify the attributes which you are seeking to hire, in terms of training, skills and experience. For example Degree qualified in agronomy, 5 years’ experience in technical sales of crop chemicals, highly developed communication skills and demonstrated ability to manage a field sales team.

2. Preparation for the Interview. Thoroughly review the resume of candidates before they arrive to identify the degree to which they appear to fulfil the job requirements. Devise some questions to enable you to gain a more in depth understanding about the skills and experience relating to the role. It is a good idea to prepare similar questions for each candidate to enable a comparison of their response at the end of the interview process. Questions should be directed at identifying the degree to which a candidate fulfils each of the selection criteria. They should be open ended to provide the opportunity for a candidate to elaborate on their skills and experience.

3. Conducting the Interview. Begin by introducing yourself and any other attendees. Explain the format of the interview and offer a brief overview of your company including what it does, its size, growth plans and culture (the way we do things around here). Provide an engaging description on offer including upcoming projects and career progression opportunities. Ask prepared questions and remember that all questions should be directed at identifying skills. Listen carefully to responses and take notes for future reference. Be aware of attempts to evade questions and probe deeper if required. Pay careful attention to the applicant’s personal style, attitudes and values which may be relevant to the selection criteria or the culture of your company.

4. Conclusion of the Interview. Ask the applicant if they have any questions about the role or the company. This is a good way to test if they have thought through the position and listened through the interview process. Thank the applicant for their time and interest and inform them when they are likely to find out the decision.

5. Following the Interview. It is a good idea to summarise your notes as soon as the applicant leaves. This will ensure that you capture your impressions of their personality, skills and abilities whilst fresh in your mind. This can then be used later for comparison with other applicants. Ensure you maintain a professional image by notifying unsuccessful candidates in a timely and personable manner.

6. Including more than one interviewer. The use of multiple interviewers or an interview panel can increase the reliability of the process. Separate and subsequent interviews are now common practice amongst many companies who believe it improves the process even further.

7. Always conduct thorough reference checks. No matter how impressed you might be with a candidate.

8. Comply with Legislative Regulations. Equal employment opportunity legislation aims to ensure that applicants are assessed on merit in the recruitment process. On this basis questions relating to gender, age, marital status, race, religion or political beliefs are viewed as discriminatory and are therefore illegal .

Following these eight simple techniques will assist you to make the right hiring decisions more consistently.