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5 Tips for that Perfect HR Interview

A business is only as good as the people who work in it. To help you recruit the best possible humans, here are 5 tips for conducting the perfect HR interview.

5 Tips for that Perfect HR Interview

We’ve heard it before but that’s because it’s true: a business is only as good as the people who work in it – and this is especially true with a small business. Your people are your gold so recruiting the right employees is just as essential as that cup of good coffee in the morning. Even more important in fact. But the issue is that in a small business environment, HR tasks are often taken on by you, the business owner, which means that things can be rushed – including that all-important interview process. So, how can you quickly get a real sense of an applicant’s fit? Here are 5 HR interview tips for your small business:

1. Be prepared

We’re not talking about glancing at their CV two minutes before they walk in the door. Lauren Scott-Rodger, general manager of Blue Mountain Hygiene, says, “My top tip is to do with preparation: have a clearly defined picture of your ideal candidate, in terms of skills, personality and (relevant) personal circumstances”. When looking at applicants, Lauren asks herself who would fit best into her team, and how the role would work within their lives. This way when conducting the HR interview, she can ask the right questions to reveal whether the candidate and job are suitable for each other. Makes sense.

2. Be human

Very few people perform best when stressed, and great candidates may come across as aloof or rude, when in fact they may just be shy or nervous. Aim to make your applicants as comfortable as possible during the HR interview by breaking the ice and then clearly communicating the role and how the interview process works up front. Start your session by connecting on a personal level by asking them something about themselves. This lifts their confidence and also gives you a sense of who the person is.

3. Break the mould

Try not to spend the whole interview behind a table. Take your interviewee on a walk around your office, factory or wherever it is you work, and introduce them to the potential people they’ll work with. This is a great opportunity to catch a glimpse of how interested they are in the role, and how they interact with your team. Involve and get feedback afterwards from those who will work with the person too, as their opinion matters.

Questions that confirm the applicant’s long-term aspirations and explore how they’ve dealt with failure in the past are great, but try to throw in a question they wouldn’t have prepared for. Duncan Drennan, Founder of Engineer Simplicity, gives the candidate a real problem that the business needs to solve. “That way I get to see how they think about it and what their general approach to problem solving is,” he says.

4. Value attitude

For Lauren, qualifications and skills are only part of what she looks for. “I think if you’re interviewing for a role like a marine biologist, the person probably needs relevant qualifications, but for us we need someone who can work within our very diverse team, and has the work ethic and attitude that we encourage. That’s something you can’t teach someone – they either have it, or they don’t.”

5. All’s well that ends well

Close off the interview by confirming whether your candidate is keen for the role and why, giving them a chance to raise questions, and thanking them for their time. If you’re interested in hiring the person, give them a relevant task to return to you later over email, after the interview. Consolidate your notes straight after saying good-bye, while it’s still fresh in your head.

When it comes to HR for small businesses, there’s a lot of customisation involved, just like tailoring that perfect shirt. Think about what your current team really needs, get your mental tape measure out, and hopefully soon you’ll have that shiny new candidate striding through your doors, ready to add heaps of value to your thriving business.

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