Can You Interview a Candidate for a Job You Don’t Know How to Do?

Can You Interview a Candidate for a Job You Don't Know How To DoInterviewing candidates for a job you don’t know how to do is a fairly common occurrence at Source, but then that’s part of the job description for a recruitment consultant. Fortunately we have a team of consultants all with different areas of expertise so we’re able to match our candidates to them. However for our clients this can be new territory and the responsibility of making a decision about a potential employee without fully understanding the role they may perform can be daunting. The good news is that not having done the job yourself has no bearing on whether you can successfully interview a candidate or not.
Whatever role you’re interviewing for be it in client services, creative, technical, project management or design, by the interview stage of the recruitment process it all comes down to three key questions:

  1. Can the candidate convince you they can do the job?
  2. Will they fit in with your company, ethos and team?
  3. Are they the best candidate overall?

Question 1 – Can the candidate convince you they can do the job?

The first question of whether the candidate can do the job will mostly have been answered at the shortlisting stage: a candidate’s CV should demonstrate that they have the right qualifications, experience and technical knowledge and their online folio, if applicable, will back this up. In theory you should only be interviewing people who can do the job required, but naturally there are degrees of competence and particularly in creative fields this can be subjective. Therefore it’s important to ensure you know exactly what you want from a potential candidate before you interview them, prepare yourself by doing some background research both into the role and the prospective candidate/s. Your job description will help you identify the essential and desirable qualities you’re looking for in a potential employee. Apply these to the candidate/s and make notes of specific questions you wish to explore more fully. Apprise yourself of the job you’re recruiting for particularly in relation to your business (the term “designer” means different things in different companies). Once you have the prospective candidate in front of you, you can explore further how their previous experience can benefit your company and how their achievements relate to the role you are interviewing for. Don’t be embarrassed to ask the candidate to explain themselves in laymen’s terms if you don’t have the technical jargon! You are the interviewer after all and if the candidate is unable to articulate their ideas to you, do you really want this person on your team?

  • Ask yourself does the candidate appear genuine?
  • Are they positive about their abilities and achievements?
  • Do they appear confident in their ability to do the job you require?

Question 2 – Do you believe the candidate will fit in with your company, ethos and team?

To ascertain this ask more generic questions about their capabilities and competences; these might include team building, global perspective, strategic thinking etc. as well as why they want to work for your company, what their long or short-term goals are: questions designed to find out more about them and give you some insight into what makes them tick. Also find out how much they know about your business, fill in the gaps and give them some background on your company – not only do you want to recruit a candidate with the right skills but also someone who wants to be part of your business.

  • What is your general impression of the candidate?
  • Have you established a rapport?
  • Can you see them being a member of your team?

Question 3 – Are they the best candidate overall?

If you have successfully addressed the above points with all the candidates you’re interviewing the final question of “are they the best candidate overall?” should be straightforward.  It’s always useful to get a second opinion when recruiting: if you’re unable to interview candidates with another member of your team, discussing the interviews with a colleague afterwards can help clarify your impressions of the candidates and help you make an informed decision about who to offer the job to. Have you had experience of recruiting staff for a job you don’t know how to do? Please share your stories (both good and bad) and any helpful advice for those interviewers in a similar position. photo credit: Quite Adept via photo pin cc