Interviewing is the main vehicle for evaluating candidates. However, it is also an opportunity for the candidate to get information and form an opinion about the practice group. This two-way nature of interviewing needs to be kept in mind while interviewing candidates; you are trying to get an accurate impression of what the candidate could bring to the practice, but the candidate is also trying to understand what it is like to work at the practice group.
Interviewing is an imperfect tool where the interviewer’s natural bias makes it challenging to get a truly objective impression of the candidate. A candidate that interviews well may just be skilled at handling interviews rather than being the best candidate for your midwifery practice. Consider the practice’s human rights obligations when designing interview processes.
There are things you can do to help minimize this interview bias. They include:
- Preparing standard interview questions well in advance of interviewing any candidates. Ask the same questions in the same order to every candidate who interviews for the open position.
- Designing the interview questions to elicit information from the candidates that can be evaluated against all the criteria important for succeeding in the job and working in the practice group.
- Asking detailed, behaviour-based questions that encourage specific answers and allow you to see how a candidate would handle a hypothetical situation and how specific examples of what they have done in the past.
- Conducting the interview so that the candidate does most of the talking and has an opportunity to ask questions as well.
- Documenting the candidate’s answers as accurately as possible. It can be helpful to have a rating scale (such as a one to 10 point scale) for each question. In this way the interviewer can circle a rating during or immediately after the interview. These notes should track the names of the interviewer and interviewee, the date, and the position. Interview notes should be kept for future reference.
The questions should be tailored to the position, with different questions for recruiting a midwife or administrative staff. In developing questions, think about what makes your practice unique or where there has been conflict in the past. These can be posed as scenario questions to candidates who are then asked to tell you how they would respond.
Some practice groups have adopted recruitment processes that allow more unstructured or natural interaction to help both the practice group and the candidate determine whether they would work well together. For example, one practice group reports that they screen applications looking for specific reference to and interest in their community and target client groups. Because midwives and their families need to be committed to relocating, they invite the candidates and their partners to a dinner with the midwives, staff, and their partners. Candidates go on a home visit with midwives who are not involved in the interviews to give them a sense of the community, the geography, and to meet a client from their target client group.
These two informal processes are intended to allow casual discussions that may be more revealing than the formal interview. The process concludes with a formal interview conducted by some partners, associates, and administrators. This is just one system that a practice has developed based on their past experiences.