The interview process: a guide for employers

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The right hiring decisions can be vital to the success of dealerships, but what do you need to do to get the interviewing process right?
 
If you’re planning a round of interviews, here are our top tips to help you nail the interview process and find the ideal candidate for the role.

How to structure interviews

The way you structure interviews can have a big impact on the hiring process.
 
Interviews which lack structure will make it difficult to provide an even playing field and draw out all the information you need from each candidate; while an overly structured interview will lack authenticity and fail to gain true insights about each candidate’s skills and attributes.
 
In our experience, adopting the following interview structure tends to work well:
 
  1. Introductions – Introduce each of the members on the interview panel so the candidate knows who they’re talking to.

  2. Start with the basics – Commence the interview by asking the candidate to confirm some general details about themself. This will allow them to provide some background information as well as serve as a warmup to get them comfortable talking.

  3. Get a little more in depth – Ask the candidate for more information about their experience, what their previous roles have been like, and what a regular day in their current role tends to look like. This will help you find out more about them and build your understanding about how well their skills and experience align with what you’re looking for.

  4. Offer more background about the dealership – Provide an overview of what the role would look like and what you would ideally like to see in a candidate. This provides a point of reference which the candidate can use to highlight which of their skills are relevant to the role.

  5. Work through the set interview questions – Gradually move into asking the candidate to respond to a predetermined set of interview questions to evaluate how well they meet the job criteria.
interviewprocessforemployers | Teamrecruit

Consistency is key

Once you’ve settled on your preferred interview format, it’s important to keep it consistent for each interview.
 
The interviewing process is somewhat like a science experiment; you need to ensure you have a consistent variable you can use to measure each candidate against and see how they compare.
 
Use the same panel of interviewers and ask each candidate the same series of questions. This will level the playing field and ensure you obtain all the same information from each candidate so you can make an informed decision. Interviews should be as objective as possible, and different interviewers may have different opinions or scoring methods that could unfairly favour or disadvantage some candidates.
 
It’s also important to keep the questions the same for each candidate. While you don’t have to follow the process perfectly, you’ll need to ask each candidate the same questions to create a consistent structure to grade against.
 
Without a consistent set of questions, you won’t be comparing apples with apples. You’ll also find yourself dealing with a series of unknowns; while some candidates will have been given the opportunity to demonstrate their skills and experience in some areas, you won’t know how the others compare and what they may be able to offer.

Keeping it ‘real’

Interviews can be stressful for candidates; if you want to get the genuine picture of each candidate, you need to make them as organic as possible.
 
Ideally, interviews should be a conversation. While it’s important to have 5-10 set interview questions that you ask each candidate, you don’t always need to ask them in the designated order. Some questions may be covered off naturally during your conversation, then you can reserve any questions which haven’t been answered for the end of the interview.
 
Don’t be afraid to mix it up a bit too! There’s no harm in throwing candidates some questions which are a little out of left field. No matter how well prepared a candidate is, unconventional questions will catch them off guard and provide a more real and raw insight into their personality.
 
A couple of examples you could try are:
 
  • “What’s your 90-day plan if you get the job?” – This can be a great question to ask toward the end of an interview. If a candidate can answer it well, it shows that they’ve been listening closely throughout the interview to understand the opportunities and challenges the dealership is facing.

  • “What do you think your previous boss would change about you?” – Similar to the age-old “What’s your biggest weakness?” question that most candidates have a stock standard answer for, this alternative will lead you to a different answer by forcing the candidate to think a little deeper into what the main challenges in their last role were.

In some cases, you could even try something very outside of the box like unexpectedly moving the interview into the field. For example, if you’re interviewing for a sales consultant in an automotive or heavy vehicle dealership, ask the candidate to jump in the car and drive you down the road to get a coffee. This will test how well the candidate can think on their feet and if they can use the time as an opportunity to sell themself in a similar way to how they’d need to be able to sell vehicles to customers.

Discussing salary expectations

Each interview should also include a discussion about salary.
 
Raising the topic early during the hiring process will ensure everyone’s expectations are aligned, and can potentially save you a lot of wasted time considering candidates that are looking for significantly more than you can offer.
 
Broach the topic toward the end of the interview after you’ve built some rapport and try to phrase it in a way that will provide some wriggle room if needed. Something like, “Our company has budgeted a salary of X for this position. How does that fit in with what you’re looking for?” is usually a good approach, as it allows you to negotiate if a quality candidate was expecting a bit more.
 
If the expectations of a candidate are way off what you had in mind, it’s best to know this early so you can conclude the interview and part ways on a good note.
 
Including discussions about salary will also allow you to gauge how you compare to the going market rate; if 90% of candidates are already earning more than you’re offering, that’s a solid indication that you’re offering less than the industry average. This can also be valuable market research to identify if you need a ‘whole of business’ salary review to ensure salaries are attractive enough to retain your existing staff long term.
 

Teamrecruit is Australia’s most established recruitment agency specialising in truck, earthmoving and agricultural machinery dealerships in Australia, New Zealand, the South Pacific and Southeast Asia. Find out more about Teamrecruit and how we support employers and candidates in the dealership industry.

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