Interview by the window, casual

Top Interview Tips for Hiring the Best Talent

by Chris Booth, Mar 07, 2022

  • Industry

In 2020-22, the world of work was flipped upside-down and back to front. Now, more than ever, candidates are prioritising their mental health and work-life balance over promised “Pizza Fridays” or pool tables in the breakout room.

In fact, work-life balance is a more important consideration than salary for 65% of brits. (Source)

It’s a time of systemic change for the world of work - and we’re seeing start ups and scale ups at the forefront of this exciting cultural transition.

But you can’t do it alone. While you’re promising top-notch working conditions, you need to build top-notch teams to take your business to the next level.

So, once we’ve searched high and low for your ideal fit and presented you with a shortlist of great candidates, it’s down to you to conduct an interview process that leaves candidates desperate to work with you - for both their professional development and your cultural practices.

But how do you do this successfully?

Keep reading for our top interview tips for hiring the best talent.

The Candidate Experience

Let’s create a scenario…

As the owner of Company A, you’ve worked on transforming your company culture since the pandemic.

You’re hiring for new roles and you’re offering unrivalled flexible working, mental health support, an above average salary, and a fantastic benefits plan. All of which are promises you actively implement.

You’ve had a conversation with a perfect-fit candidate and you’ve explained all of these great benefits to them.

But they still choose to join a competitor business instead of yours.


It’s simple really. The candidate had a better experience during the competitor interview process.

Gone are the days where promising the highest salary will secure you the best talent. You need to be investing in the candidate experience throughout your Talent Acquisition process.

Wondering how to create a great candidate experience? Read on!

The Interview Structure

Our first piece of advice is to break down your interview stages based on what you want to achieve and make the purpose of each stage clear to the candidate.

Though the ideal structure will vary based on the company and role-seniority, in general an ideal interview structure looks like this:

Stage 1: Screening Call

This call is your chance to ask qualifying questions around technical skills, salary, location, willingness to travel/work remotely, and communication skills.

You’ll ask questions around what the candidate is searching for and sell all the best parts of your company, explaining your culture, employee support and development, and requirements for the role.

Remember, interviews aren’t one-sided. While you need to be sure you’ve found the right candidate, they’re also judging you, so make sure you sell your role appropriately and make the candidate feel valued.

Stage 2: Follow Up

This stage is a more detailed meeting with the hiring manager and other relevant team members. Typically this is a longer conversation, usually held face-to-face, though it can be conducted over video call.

In this session, you’ll deep dive into the CV, discuss the skills needed and explain why they’re needed for this role. Be honest and open - if you can give a candidate context before asking certain questions, it allows them to prepare an answer that’s relevant to your needs.

For example: “Here at Company A, we need a tech developer who can reevaluate our coding processes. Since we’ve always done things a certain way, we would love a fresh pair of eyes to transform our processes and make them more cost and time efficient. Have you had experience analysing and refreshing coding practices?”[C1]

This is also a chance to do a deep-dive into the culture and make sure both parties are happy with the cultural fit. Again, remember to explain why the candidate would benefit from joining your company and what you have to offer - don’t just bombard them with tough questions, this should be a back-and-forth conversation.

Stage 3: The Close

Whether you hold an informal closing session in a restaurant or pub, you invite your candidate back into the office, or you simply follow up with a phone call, the close is the final meeting to offer the role to the successful candidate.

In this final conversation, you want to use the information gathered in the earlier stages to sell the opportunity back to the candidate based on what’s important to them and the great benefits you have to offer.

This structure not only allows you to pitch to the candidate early on, but it gives you time to evaluate their needs and make sure what you’re selling is what they truly want.

Top 4 Interview Tips

Once you’ve nailed the structure, there are some more great practices to weave into your process to maximise the candidate experience:

1. Create an open, honest, conversation

As we explained above, interviews are about back and forth. Both parties need to be happy and have space to ask questions.

So, don’t just batter candidates with questions that meet your checklist requirements for skills and experience. Not only is this super off-putting for candidates as it reflects your lack of care towards them as an individual, but it also is a waste of your time as the likelihood is, all this stuff was covered on their CV or screening call with the recruiter.

Trust that by the time you’re interviewing them, the candidate has proved they have many of the relevant skills needed on paper. So, instead, go in with 5-10 themes that you need to know about this person: What motivates them? What are they passionate about? How capable are they at strategic thinking?

You can then hold a back and forth conversation around these themes to gauge the candidate’s willingness and fit. This will naturally generate interesting conversation about their background and experience without being a quick-fire Q&A.

Make sure you also allow the candidate time to ask any questions they have - and answer these openly and honestly. Like any relationship, you need to create a secure, trusting starting point if this is going to work for the longterm.

2. Explain the need for this role

A sense of fulfilment is a key factor for every candidate looking for a new role. This often comes from feeling like a valued addition to a team trying to achieve a goal.

Help create this feeling of value by explaining the business’ overall goal and how this role fits into the greater strategy. This will naturally help the candidate see where they’ll immediately add value, creating a sense of anticipated fulfilment.

3. Office tours/team introductions

Another way to help the candidate judge whether they’ll be a great cultural fit is by introducing them to the day-to-day of the job. Walk them around the office or introduce them to some key team members to help them see how they’d fit into the company and how their work life will look.

4. Provide honest feedback

Whether or not the candidate has been successful in the interview, make sure you give them feedback. This is vital for the longevity of your brand’s reputation and will help you earn the candidate’s respect. Even if the candidate is unsuccessful, providing respectful feedback could potentially result in them recommending a candidate they think would be a better fit or even applying for a different role at your company later on.

Let’s start hiring!

These tried and tested tips are a sure way to see an improvement in your offer to acceptance ratio, helping you avoid bidding wars with your competitors and secure the best talent.

Of course, these are just a few key interview tips for hiring start ups and there are plenty more tactics and strategies we can help you with.

As your growth partner, (LINK) we take pride in supporting you wherever we can - from creating tailored cover sheets and detailed shortlists to enrolling you in investment accelerators and providing feedback on your pitch decks.

Get in touch to see how we can help you!

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