12 Top Tips To Help You Conduct Effective Interviews Part of the AFA Member E-learning Programme …

With GCSE and A level results out within the last few weeks now is a good time to secure some school leaver help for your franchise. Could you interview them effectively?

School leavers can become a real asset to your franchise! copyright: dacosta / 123rf stock photo (licensee)

Reaching school leavers may be easy if you are social media savvy, but it’s being able to interview consistently and effectively that will be critical to help you determine the right fit.

These tips for interviewing school leavers will help you prepare and conduct a successful interview:

  1. Describe the opportunity clearly

It may sound really obvious, but first plan what you want this new position to deliver for your franchise and spell it out. How does it link to what you need to achieve? What will their contribution be? What are the ideal knowledge, skills and attributes?

How will you assess these at interview stage and measure them when the school leaver starts?

A one-page overview of headings, key results and activities will help you plan your questions and come across as organised and clear when advertising and describing the opportunity.

2. Use an application form and make notes

Using an application form rather than just asking for CVs will make it easier for you to shortlist if there is a lot of interest as the information will be ordered in a certain way.

Read the completed forms and make notes about any areas that you would like to discuss with candidates and find out more about them. If the form is available electronically, make sure the download works, and it is clear in the advert where the form can be found and when and how it should be returned. Acknowledge it!

3. Don’t forget to prepare

It’s important to be well-prepared before and during the interview. Allow sufficient time for each meeting so that you can cover all the topics that you’d like to discuss, and create a plan for how the interview will run.

Generally speaking, starting with an informal chat (about the weather or the candidate’s trip to the office), followed by a brief account of the franchise’s history and position requirements is a great way to start.

You should then discuss any education, work or volunteering history, academic qualifications and, lastly, position-specific details.

4. Plan your key questions and keep them relevant and legal

Your key questions are those which allow you to uncover a person’s ability to perform the required work duties. This is where the overview you produced at point 1 will come in handy as you refer to specific areas of the role and why it is important.

Keep questions professional, avoid asking about any protected characteristics at all costs and bear in mind that just because someone has limited work experience doesn’t mean they don’t have valuable experience from other areas of their life.

Avoid pointless questions like ‘which animal would you like to be?’ and ‘how would your friends describe you?’ as these simply encourage candidates to lie and don’t teach you anything.

They are subjective so, rather than asking them which superhero they’d like to be, ask them to solve a real work problem they will need to face if they are hired. Some great sample questions include:

  • What motivated you to apply for this position?
  • What can you do for us that no one else would be able to?
  • Tell me an example of a time your work was criticised.
  • How do you manage a typical day?
  • Explain to me how you feel about learning?
  • Give me an example of when you felt really proud of something you had achieved?

Open questions like these will provide you with much more information. Adding ‘Why is/was that?’ will be even more valuable.

5. Find a great location

The interview should be conducted in a professional space that is both quiet and away from operations and other people working.

Having said that, you may want to take candidates for a quick tour after the interview so that they can get a peek of the ‘office culture’ or other workspaces. This can be a great move if you have a more relaxed working space or office culture or if they will be based in a particular area.

6. Help the candidate feel comfortable

Interviews can be a stressful ordeal for interviewees so, if you are interested in seeing a person’s true colours, do whatever you can to make your candidates feel welcome and comfortable.

Agree to meet them at a time that’s convenient for them (provided that it’s convenient for you as well) and send them a note before the meeting to let them know what to bring with them (eg: their portfolio, character references, certificates). Tell them what topics they should expect to discuss and encourage them to prepare questions.

Dropping a line about the dress code can be extremely helpful, as well. Being on time and calm in manner yourself and offering them a drink on arrival will also help to settle nerves.

7. Have a long-term approach

Even though these interviews are just another thing on your huge to do list, it’s important to be very methodical during these in-person meetings.

One of the best tips for interviewing someone with limited work experience is to think of their long-term potential and encourage them to give ideas. That is, think of what the young person sitting across the room could develop into.

Assume that each person could eventually be promoted and decide if they could excel in a position with more responsibilities. There is always more opportunity to become the boss of a small business than a large blue chip organisation.

8. Take ‘culture fit’ into account

There’s an ongoing debate as to whether we should or should not be looking for cultural fits, but as long as you maintain a balance and don’t obsess about hiring a ‘great fit’, then taking into account team dynamics can be beneficial to the process.

If you have a team then consider what characteristics and qualities team members share and look for them in every potential new member as well.

Be careful not to directly or indirectly discriminate and be aware of your unconscious bias and prejudices.

9. Create a job that is enticing

One of the biggest mistakes made when interviewing is that interviewers assume that the candidate is dying to work for them and that they, therefore, do not need to sell the job.

The reality, however, is that many people attend interviews to determine if the job fits them and, as such, need to hear more about what the job actually entails and why they should be excited to get it.

Again, the overview you created at point 1 will be a good aide-memoire for this and allow you to create an interesting role and share your enthusiasm for what it entails and what it means for you and your business.

10. Encourage interviewees to ask questions

An interview should be interactive and this means that the interviewee shouldn’t be the only person answering questions. In fact, having the interviewee ask you questions can reveal a lot about their potential.

11. Maintain control of the interview

A great interview is one where the interviewee does most of the talking, but that does not mean that your role is simply that of a listener.

You need to maintain control and steer the interviewee back to the topic at hand whenever they wander off. Phrases such as ‘you were saying earlier’ and ‘tell me more about’ can help bring the candidate back on track.

12. Let the interviewee know what to expect next and thank them

The interview should always finish by letting the interviewee know what to expect next. Tell them what the goal for this meeting was and what the next stage entails. Inform them when they should expect to hear back from you and encourage them to drop you a line if they have any questions.

Conducting interviews in a professional manner can help boost the reputation of your company, so create a lasting positive impression by sending a thank you letter to all the interviewees.

The AFA provides a suite of online people management courses that includes:

  • Interviewing skills

  • Introduction to equality and diversity

  • Making appraisals count

  • Handling difficult conversations

  • Managing sickness absence

These can be used to help you learn how to recruit and manage staff, encourage performance improvement, comply with equality legislation and retain happy and engaged staff.

“Would you like to know more?”


For more information please see the AFA Member E-learning Programme or contact Hazel Langley at Induction Junction or call on 0333 358 3084.

Until next time …


P.S: Why not visit www.theafa.org.uk and find out more?

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