The interview process is an essential step in the employee selection process. If done effectively and with great care, it enables the employer to determine if an applicant’s skills, experience, and personality meet the job’s requirements. It also helps the employer to establish whether an applicant would fit in with the culture and environment of the company. In addition, with careful preparation, this process can assist setting out the duties and responsibilities of the advertised vacancy. Preparatory steps include selecting the most suitable method of interviewing, drafting the possible questions to ask the applicant, and what is expected from a successful applicant.

In implementing an accurate and fair selection method, the employer can select from a few different interviewing techniques. The choice depends on the nature of the position being filled, the industry, the culture of the company and the type of information the employer seeks to gain from the process. Interviewing can be either structured or unstructured techniques. The primary purpose of structured interviewing is to pinpoint job skills that are essential to the position. The interviewer asks all applicants a specific set of questions for the position. Structured interviewing provides the interviewer with the information required to make the final decision.

In an unstructured interview, the interviewer does not have a strict list of specific questions but rather allows the applicant to lead and set the pace of the interview. Questions tend to be open-ended, enabling the applicant to disclose more than they might have if asked closed-ended questions.

The types or methods of interviewing that can be done are:

This method is usually used to assess whether an applicant’s qualifications, experience, skills and salary needs are compatible with the position and the business before inviting the applicant to the in-person interview.

The “old traditional” face-to-face interview with the candidate can be structured or unstructured. It can be approached in several ways, depending on the type of information the interviewer seeks. The most common approaches to one-on-one employment interviews are behavioural and competency-based. Behavioural and competency-based interviewing both assist in discovering how the applicant performed in certain situations or will perform when facing a specific situation.

In a panel interview, a candidate is interviewed individually by a panel of two or more people. This type of group interview is usually a question-and-answer session, but a candidate may also be asked to participate in an exercise or test. Panel interviews can also be structured or unstructured.

Employers must keep in mind that there are questions that are better left unsaid to safeguard the company against any discrimination dispute that can arise. Questions relating either directly or indirectly to age, sex, race, colour, national origin, religion, genetics or disabilities should be avoided entirely. Section 6 of the Employment Equity Act 55 of 1998 (EEA) prohibits discrimination against job applicants on numerous arbitrary grounds. Employers must follow all regulations prohibiting any discrimination and can only ask questions relevant to the advertised position. The general rule is that any questions asked must deal with the applicant’s ability to perform the job’s tasks. The interviewer only needs to know whether the applicant can perform the job and not the exact reasons why the applicant cannot perform the job. Lastly, the goal of a reference check is to confirm all the facts contained in the applicant’s Curriculum Vitae (CV) and not for the previous employer to sell the candidate to the new potential employer. While reference checks are essential, it is also important to remember to check qualifications, driver’s licences, credit ratings, and criminal records, to name a few.

There is no doubt that making the right employment decisions is essential to the success of any business. The employer places a great deal of trust in their staff. Staff play a crucial role in ensuring the success of the business. In return, the applicant could also gain experience and skills which could contribute to a healthy relationship between employer and employee.

Prepare efficiently and choose wisely.

Article By: Joléze Roux
Dispute Resolution Official – CEO Pretoria