Almost all businesses need to hire new employees from time to time. However, recruitment agency fees can be expensive. As a result, many small business owners choose to carry out recruitment themselves. However, there are some important things to consider when hiring for a position. Employing an unsuitable candidate can be costly and damaging to your business - so it’s vital to conduct your interviews well. Here are some tips for holding a useful and informative job interview: Identify what you want from the candidate Make sure you know exactly what you want your new employee to be able to do. Do you need them to be an independent worker, or more of a team player? Are they going to be giving presentations, or is the role mostly desk-based? Identify the key skills they’ll need to perform the job, and try to find out whether they have them in the interview. For example, if the job role involves stressful situations, throw the candidate a curveball question. The way they handle an unexpected question will show you how well they deal with stress. Reassure the candidate Going for a job interview can be a nerve-wracking process, and your candidate will probably be nervous. Some people don’t perform well if they’re anxious - as an interviewer, it’s your job to reassure the candidate, and help them to open up. A good way to do this is to start with simple, easy questions - ask them how their journey was, or what they enjoyed most about their last job. Once the candidate has settled into the interview, you can begin to ask more complicated questions. Ask the candidate what they know about your company You should always ask this question. It’s a good general gauge, and tells you how well the candidate has prepared for the interview. If they can talk confidently about your company, it shows that they’re taking their job hunt seriously, and are likely to be a hard worker. If a candidate struggles to answer the question, you should be very wary about hiring them. Do your own research The interview will be far more productive and useful if you’ve researched the candidate beforehand. At the very least, read through their CV and application before they arrive. Ideally, you should go through and highlight the things you’d like to hear more about. Draw up a list of questions to ask the candidate, and a rough plan of how you want the interview to go. Take notes - carefully It’s important to take notes in the interview, particularly if you’re seeing a lot of candidates. However, you shouldn’t aim to transcribe the whole interview - it’s off-putting for the person you’re talking to, and prevents you from fully engaging with them. Take brief, concise notes, but be sure to devote most of your attention to the candidate. Don’t get side-tracked Being friendly and open in the interview can help the candidate to relax and open up. However, it’s easy to go too far, and be drawn into an irrelevant conversation. Keep an eye on your list of questions, and don’t be afraid of steering things back on track - remember, you’re the interviewer, and you’re in charge of the conversation. Don’t ask an illegal question There are extensive laws and restrictions surrounding employment, many of which cover job interviews. Many countries have a list of illegal questions - make sure you don’t ask your candidate to answer any of them. For example, US interviewers cannot ask candidates about their religious beliefs, nationality or marital status, amongst other things. Be sure to thoroughly research your local laws and jurisdictions before conducting a job interview - or you may find yourself facing a lawsuit. Consider the length As a general rule, a standard job interview should last around 40 minutes - although this depends on the role you’re interviewing for. If the interview is too short, you won’t get an accurate impression of the candidate. However, if the interview is too long, you could be wasting valuable time - there’s only so much you can learn about someone in a job interview. Invite questions It’s accepted practice to ask the candidate whether they have any questions at the end of the interview. Some interviewers wrongly see this as a mere formality. These questions can be highly revealing - detailed queries about your company shows that they’ve put a lot of time and effort into their research, whilst generic questions could betray a lack of interest. Hiring a new employee is a big decision. If you make a mistake, it could prove costly for your business. Trust your gut instinct - if you’re not sure who to hire, invite the candidates back for a second interview. Never put a set finishing date on the hiring process - if none of the candidates is suitable for the role, re-advertise for the position. When you do hire someone, be sure to include a probation period in their contract - this gives you the power to let them go if they turn out to be unsuitable.