Preparing For An Interview: Identifying Objectives

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A job interview rarely lasts longer than an hour, but its consequences may last for years. In order to identify the most suitable candidate for a vacancy, prepare well in advance.

Identifying Objectives

An interview is a formal method of exchanging information between people. The interviewer needs to be clear about the purpose of the exchange to ensure that the time is used to give and obtain information that is relevant and revealing.

  1. Evaluate every vacancy before calling for interviews.
  2. Look for new blood rather than “one of us”.
  3. Imagine the ideal candidate for a vacant job.
  4. Review all job descriptions for your team when a vacancy is created.
  5. Use a vacancy as an opportunity to reassess the reason for a job.
  6. Check whether or not the qualifications required for a job have changed.
  7. When appropriate, offer flexible working hours.

Defining the Purpose

The recruitment of new employees is one of the most important tasks a manager will undertake. Meeting candidates face to face provides the best opportunity for gathering information about their skills and experience and, ultimately, matching the right person to the job and to the organization.

In preparing for interviews, remember that your purpose is not only to evaluate the candidates, but also to describe the job accurately so that they can assess whether it is the right one for them. You will also need to represent your organization in the best light possible to attract good-quality candidates.

Assessing a Vacancy

Before any employer can set out to find a suitable candidate for a job, it is important that they establish the skills and experience the job requires.

Start by referring to the existing job description. Consider whether the job has changed over time, with the introduction of new technology, for instance. Does it now require different skills? Ask questions about the previous employee to decide if there is anything new that can be brought to the job. Were they suited for the job? Is a similar mix of abilities required in a new employee?

Assessing Job Relationships

An interview needs to assess how a job will relate to the roles of other employees. Where does it fit into the organizational hierarchy, and what will the role of the new job be within the existing team or department? To whom will the new employee report, and who will report to the new employee?

Bear in mind that there is usually room for some flexibility within an organization structure. Consider, for instance, whether using new technology would allow a more junior employee than previously to be appointed to take on the responsibilities of a job.

Gathering Information

Discuss the requirements of a job with the present job-holder and those who work in the same team or department. This may lead to a reallocation of responsibilities among all roles, and a reappraisal of the skills needed in a new employee.

Evaluating a Role

A new vacancy provides you with an opportunity to look closely at a job to evaluate its role within the company. Set aside time to identify specific changes that can be made to improve the job’s value to the organization.

Start with the aims of the company. Have there been any directional changes in its goals, and has the job adapted to meet them? Ask other departments what their expectations of the job have been and whether these have been fulfilled.

Consider the assumptions you have about the knowledge and skills you think the job needs. Can you introduce a useful new appointment? Think also about the communication skills that are needed to make the job effective: are closer relationships with clients or other departments needed?

Points to Remember

  1. Not all vacancies need to be filled.
  2. Changes in business occur so rapidly that the need for a job may exist only for a short time.
  3. The best source of information about a job may be the previous job-holder.
  4. A vacancy can be an opportunity to redefine the responsibilities of a job.
  5. Currently, unfulfilled tasks and duties can be added to a job description.
  6. It may be possible to reallocate work among current employees.
  7. Sometimes two people sharing a job can be more productive than one.

Redefining a Role

This case study looks at the way in which the role of the librarian has been affected by information technology. Although the role was performed competently by the previous job-holder, a new applicant with updated skills shows how the scope of the job can be extended and improved to the benefit of the organization.

CASE STUDY
For 30 years, Great Universal Technology’s library had been presided over by Thelma. In recent years, however, Thelma had become unhappy with the way her profession had changed. Although a proficient typist, she had never become used to the computer, nor to the accelerating pace of corporate life. She decided it was time to retire.

Kelvin, an ambitious young employee in the computer

maintenance department, made an application for Thelma’s job, arguing that the company needed a computer-literate “knowledge manager” – not a librarian. The company needed to be able to access the internet as well as its own bookshelves. It was also needed to bring together information from different departments of the company and make it accessible to all staff. The chairman, impressed by Kelvin’s argument, gave him the job.

Considering Conditions

When a job is vacated, consider whether you need to fill the job in the same way. If part of a job has become redundant, due to changes in structure, for instance, consider appointing a part-time replacement. Use a jobsharing scheme if the role needs different skills, or to retain an employee who wants to work part time. If the work occurs only at certain periods, use freelancers or contact workers. Look at your finances: can one expensive employee be replaced by two junior employees or vice versa?

Creating a Jobshare

Jobshares who work during different times of the week need to establish a regular handover meeting. Dividing clients or customers between two employees can also create a jobshare.

CONSIDERING A NEW STATUS FOR A JOB

NEW STATUSREASONS TO REVISE OLD STATUS
UPGRADED OR DOWNGRADED JOB
Senior staff are expensive but can improve the effectiveness of a role.
Junior staff can perform routine tasks.
• A tight budget forces a reassessment of staff costs, leading to redundancies at a junior or senior level.
• A change in emphasis of the responsibilities of a job requires a different level of employee.
PART-TIME JOB
The employee works for only part of the week, for a period and at times agrees with the manager.
• The job-holder cites boredom as a reason for leaving since the job does not warrant a full-time employee.
• Some tasks have become redundant or have been reallocated among other employees.
FREELANCE POSITIONS
A freelancer or contract worker is self-employed. They incur minimal overhead costs for an organization.
• A valued employee can no longer work full time but wishes to remain with the organization.
• All the skills needed cannot be found in any single person within the organization.
JOBSHARE
Two people share responsibility for completing tasks or achieving goals set by their supervisor.
• Expected reorganization means the job is likely to change or become redundant in the future.
• The job is necessary for a finite period only, and therefore, is not suitable for a full-time employee.

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