Here on www.jobs.ac.uk’s career development section much of the advice is from the point of view of the jobseeker. However, once you do secure your job it is likely you will be asked to be on an interviewing panel yourself at some point in your career. This can be a daunting task, so here are our top ten tips to help you perform your best.
It is unlikely that you will be alone when interviewing for a permanent position. Several colleagues may be present, and perhaps even a Human Resources representative will join you. Therefore make sure you plan ahead as a team to work out who is going to ask which questions, who will collect candidates from the waiting room and so on. You want to give the impression of a smooth operation on the day, so ensure everyone knows their role. Remember it is a two-way process.
On a personal level make sure you are familiar with candidates’ names and CVs. You will be able to address them more confidently on the day and it avoids having to hastily try to work out someone’s background while they are sitting opposite you.
This will differ from institution to institution, but if you have to maintain an official paper trail of your decisions from application to selection make sure you keep up with it and do it promptly and efficiently. Any delays on your part may result in candidates not being informed of a decision on time or the hiring procedure being invalidated. It is also a good idea to keep hold of the evidence from the interviews so that you can defend your decision if called upon to do so.
As for interviewees, being on an interview panel can be a tiring process, involving intense contact with people you do not know, with only a few short breaks in between meetings. If you have been asked to make a decision on the same day this could mean discussions go on late in the day, so get a good night’s sleep beforehand!
As with the previous tip, being an interviewer is in many ways similar to being interviewed. Although you are not the one ‘on trial’, you are representing your institution and want to do so professionally and competently. Dressing smartly, and coming across with a confident but respectful manner will put candidates and your fellow interviewers at their ease.
When putting together the job description forms you will have worked out with colleagues what sort of candidate you are looking for. However, the interview is the chance for you to also find out whether someone who is good on paper would be good to work with. So consider how each candidate might fit into your team or department, on a personal as well as professional level.
If you are seeing four or five people consecutively it will be easy for you to muddle them up at the end of the day when trying to make a decision. So keep good notes of your impressions throughout the interviews, you will be able to make a more informed decision later.
When it comes to selecting from the candidates it may be that you disagree with the majority view or would like to put forward an alternative suggestion. If you follow point 7 you will be able to do this, but make sure you do speak out. Do not feel shy even if you are considered the ‘junior’ member of the panel. Your colleagues will respect your opinion and you may be helping someone’s job prospects if you do!
We have all been through the anxiety of being interviewed and waiting to hear the panel’s decision, so if you are on the other side of the fence and have to get paperwork submitted or even contact candidates yourself, don’t keep them waiting too long!
Once your chosen candidate has accepted the job, work with him or her to ensure that the first experience of your institution is a positive one. Act as a contact point for professional queries, or simply offer a friendly face. This will help to ensure that the transition from interviewee to colleague is an easy one.