The primary purpose of the job interview is to assess the candidate's suitability for the job. It is an opportunity to probe into the candidate’s career and background and to explore if they have the ability and willingness to do the job. Team player suitability is also important to ensure the candidate is able to slot into the current structure of the department.
It is important to remember that the interview is a two way process. It is an opportunity for you to assess a candidate’s suitability, but also for the candidate to find out if the position and organisation are right for them.
The interview should be a positive experience and it is the responsibility of the panel to ensure all candidates are treated fairly and courteously. Irrespective of the outcome, a candidate will form an impression of the University of Kent through the interview process.
The effectiveness of interviews can be improved greatly with thorough preparation and by ensuring that all the questions asked are relevant (and seen to be relevant) to the job.
The interview panel is an important factor of the interview process and should be confirmed as soon as possible to ensure all members have the opportunity to review the applications and job description in advance.
Panels should have a balanced gender profile. The panel must consist of at least 2 panel members, of which at least one must have attended the University of Kent’s ‘Recruitment and Selection’ training within the last 5 years.
If the interviews are taking place over separate days, the panel must remain the same.
Please refer to the procedure notes for the panel requirements for specific posts.
Requirements for the interviews such as meeting rooms, AV needs and refreshments must be organised by the department. Please ensure that the room used for the interviews has little distraction such as loud noises or bright lights, telephones ringing etc.
The job description, person specification and analysis of the application form should provide a useful framework for the interview. Questions and the format of the interview should be prepared in advance and agreed by the panel.
Candidates should be asked similar questions, which must be based on the Person Specification for the post. It is quite reasonable that you should want to talk about particular points with different candidates and ask questions in various ways having considered the evidence in the application forms; however, you should make sure that you cover the same topics and issues in the same depth with each of the candidates.
Ideally the format will include open, probing and behavioural questions which are more likely to allow the candidate to discuss their skills, provide more detail and relate their answers directly to their experience by providing examples. Evidence about a candidate's experience outside the workplace can be helpful provided that it relates to the job. It often helps to encourage candidates to give a wide range of examples, which show how they can meet your requirements. Do be careful though, not to stray into a candidate's personal circumstances (e.g. marital status, sexual orientation). For further information on discrimination and the Equality Act 2006 please contact the recruitment team.
How to conduct an interview
It is the Chair’s responsibility to guide both the candidate and panel members through the interview. To follow are the main areas which should be addressed:
Icebreaker / making the candidate comfortable. Shaking a candidate’s hand, smiling and making good eye contact is often said to be the most important part of the interview. Bear in mind the candidate may be nervous, try to put them at ease with an ice breaker such as asking how their journey to the meeting was. Asking the candidate if they are comfortable and if they require water will also help to put them at ease.
Explain the purpose of the interview. Explain very briefly how the meeting will be structured, introduce who is on the panel and what their role is within the University.
Explain the type of interview you are conducting and its nature. If you want them to ask questions, specify if they're to do so as they have them or wait until the end of the interview.
Indicate how long the interview usually takes.
Don't count on your memory to recall their answers. Explain to the candidate that notes will be taken during the interview.
Questions. Each panel member should ask all of their questions before passing back to the Chair. A ‘ping pong’ method can be confusing for the candidate and the panel!
Ask them if they have any questions.
What happens next? Advise the candidate of the process for informing them of the interview outcome. Check contact details if necessary.
Information required at interview
Eligibility to work in the UK
We are required to obtain evidence of an individual’s right to work in the UK prior to commencing employment. The University operates an approved list of signatories of staff who may verify and copy documentation. For further information please click here.
Certain positions at the University of Kent will require a DBS check to be received prior to commencement of employment.
Application forms will be sent to candidates at interview stage (along with the notes on how to fill in the form/what documentation is required). Candidates are asked to bring these to interview so that copies of documents can be taken. Please ensure that the DBS forms and documents are then forwarded onto the recruitment team If you are unsure about how to deal with the forms or require assistance with this – please contact us.
Methods of Assessment
Any tests should be appropriate to the post and the person specification in question – so proof reading/in-tray test (email or letter drafting) or an excel spreadsheet exercise might be appropriate for a Grades 1-6 dependent on the requirements for the position. Instructions should be clear and sufficient time should be allowed for the test to be completed and the results should be clearly measurable.
Short presentations are extremely useful for positions where the ability to give presentations (or communicate to a wide audience) is a requirement for the job role. Alternatively, a presentation may be used to assess the candidate’s ability to plan, research, analyse and present information.
These tests/results should only form part of the selection process in conjunction with a formal interview and must be undertaken by trained individuals. Generally these tend to work more effectively for managerial style positions where it is useful to assess someone’s response to a set of circumstances (linked to the Job description and Person Specification).
These involve a number of tests/exercises that have been specifically created with the post in mind. These will typically involve a full day (or more) and need to be carefully monitored by staff who are aware of the objectives and expected results of each test. They can be time and resource consuming, but may yield positive results for the appropriate position. Again these may be more suitable for managerial positions.
Interview notes provide the panel and HR with a summary of information which enable the Chair and interview panel to make appropriate hiring decisions.
Guidance about note-taking at interviews can be found here as well as options on the 2 different forms that can be used for such note taking. They are:
a) Panel Commentary Form
b) Interview Assessment Form
Once completed, the Chair or the Chair's assistant should upload the completed forms onto Stonefish as part of the offer process.
It is important to remember that we do require a set of notes to be returned for each and every interview undertaken. Please also note that if requested, candidates can ask to see a copy of these notes as per the requirements of the Data Protection Act 1998.