Interviewing is critical to a rigorous recruitment process. One of the keys to effective interviewing is doing the right background work to understand what you really want and get ready for the interview.

The foundation

There are three foundational steps to get ready:

First, you need to be able to clearly define the role’s purpose. There are generally four to six factors that are uniquely attributed to any position. These are primary responsibilities that are not undertaken by anyone else in the organisation. As a standard rule, if you cannot identify these unique factors, a true role does not exist.
Second, you need to be able to map the skills and requirements for a person in that role – i.e. the experience and the technical and industry skills required to succeed. These are the ‘can do’, or eligibility, traits and should be evidenced via a resume.

Third, it is critical to be able to identify the role’s competencies. The best approach is to convert them into behaviours – i.e. the ‘will do’, or motivating, traits. Converting competencies into behaviours enables you to quantify exactly what you are looking for. For example, ‘innovative’ is a competency, but what behaviour does your organisation, or a given role, require to be successful? Is it development of new products or processes? Is it looking at issues and dealing with people in a different way? Or, if the organisation requires someone to work autonomously (i.e. a competency) then what behaviour will demonstrate that? Is it the ability to work remotely, or report to a non-technical manager? Looking at it through the lens of behaviours helps to determine a person’s culture fit because it drills down into what a competency means in the unique context of your organisation.

There is additional contextual information around the role and company that will allow you to gain better insight into the factors guiding culture fit – e.g. the line manager’s profile, major projects expected in the first six months, major challenges, likely job frustrations. However, if you can define the above three aspects as a baseline, you are well on the way to finding someone who can do the job and be a good culture fit within the organisation.

The interview

With this foundation set, the ideal interview process involves looking for repeating patterns of behaviour within a candidate’s background. We have all fallen in love with candidates in the past because they’ve had the same interests, values and philosophies only to discover, after the appointment, they haven’t performed in line with expectations or displayed the repeating patterns of behaviour we needed. In addition, too often, we see organisations hire based on skill and fire based on behaviour. If anything, it should be the other way around – you should hire based on behaviour.

Looking for repeating patterns of behaviour requires a thorough analysis during the interview of the previous roles the candidate has held, what they achieved, what they could have done better, what they liked and didn’t like, what their direct manager thought they did and didn’t do well, and so on. Yes, this is a reasonably lengthy process, as the interviewer needs to go through each job role. However, this enables you to look for behaviours the candidate has displayed in each role and, in doing so, define their repeating patterns of behaviour. This, in turn, enables you to identify whether the candidate matches what you have defined as the behaviours necessary for success in the organisation and the role.

This is a central part of our process because of the value it adds to placing the right people in the right roles.