Written by Roshan Hingorani, Senior Consultant at Lewis Sanders
There are plenty of resources dedicated to interview tips for candidates, but not quite as many for interviewers. In the past, we have been asked by hiring managers and HR about candidate expectations from interviews, so we thought it’d be useful to share some tips for interviewers too. Of course, we appreciate that each manager and business will have their own style of interviewing, so these are general suggestions.
Besides preparing a list of topics you want to cover during the interview, it’s important to have a proper look at the CV beforehand and then to bring up specific pieces of information in it during the meeting. This could be about a particularly interesting matter that the candidate has advised on, or even a unique hobby he or she has. Doing this shows candidates that you have taken your time to go through their CV, which makes them feel appreciated.
This preparation also ensures you are aware of the candidate’s obvious points prior to the interview, so that you do not make the mistake of asking basic things that were already clearly stated in their CV. That’s never a great look for you or the business!
Being respectful – with simple gestures
We have all been in interviews, and we know being nervous is completely natural. Helping candidates warm into the conversation with a bit of small talk always helps in easing their nerves. A simple comment about the weather or weekend plans could be enough to lighten the conversation.
It’s also advisable to write down notes. Of course, this helps in remembering important points about a candidate in case your memory gets a bit clouded later on. However, it also shows the candidate that you are seriously considering what he or she is saying, and the points noted can help in triggering further questions.
We’d recommend asking candidates if they have any remaining questions at the end of the interview. This gives candidates the opportunity to clarify any further queries about the role.
Carving a fine balance – try not to talk too much or too little
As important as it is for candidates to talk about their experience and background, it is equally important for you to introduce yourself and to speak about the responsibilities of the role in adequate detail. Interviews are ultimately a two-way process. It is for you to assess the candidate, but it is also for the candidate to assess your business and the role. In a competitive job market, your business will be up against others for the same candidate, and that individual will want to understand how well your business fits their personality and career plans.
If a candidate leaves the meeting room feeling that the conversation was transparent and helpful, it will go a long way in making them want to join your business. Even if a candidate is not quite right for a vacancy, it’s important they leave the meeting room still wanting to join. Leaving all candidates, suitable or not, with a good impression is great publicity.
Interview questions should help bring you closer to making an assessment about whether or not a certain candidate is a good fit for the business. There may be a certain set of questions you would want to ask each candidate in order to compare their answers. This direct comparison can help with your assessment, but it is also helpful to ask thoughtful, follow-up or open-ended questions that keep the conversation flowing, as opposed to there being only one-way traffic. We once had a candidate go for an interview where he was drilled through a list of standard questions in a rigid Q&A format. He did well enough in the interview to be invited to subsequent rounds, but he was taken aback by this style of interviewing. There is nothing wrong with this per se, but it’s always easier to build rapport if the discussion goes both ways.
Talking about salary and title
In our experience, salary discussions are often sensitive and potentially complex. As such, if you are the hiring manager, unless you are confident in your understanding of the remuneration structure of your business, you may want to leave this to your HR team. In any event, we suggest that you first check the policy of your business on who is best to have salary discussions with candidates. Leaving this topic to HR and recruiters will allow you to focus on building the relationship with a candidate and a prospective employee.
Candidates who are being represented by a recruiter will generally prefer that the recruiters handle salary discussions. If you prefer to discuss compensation directly with a candidate, it is worth letting the recruiter know in advance so they can give that candidate the heads-up.
Also, unless you are sure that a particular title can be offered, it is best to not make any concrete promises about this at interview stage. In our experience, once you put a specific grade in the mind of candidates, it can be very difficult to change this later on if that title is no longer feasible.
We hope this helps you for the next time you need to conduct an interview. If you would like to discuss any searches we can assist you with on the legal and compliance front, please feel free to reach out to me on firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the author
Roshan works with private practice and inhouse clients, identifying and introducing lawyers and compliance professionals at all levels in Hong Kong, China and across the region. Roshan began his recruitment career soon after graduation as a specialist financial services recruiter, focusing on the compliance market with a client base of corporates, banks and asset managers.