Mastering the Art of Job Interviews
A Comprehensive Guide for Hiring Managers
Conducting effective interviews is something of an art form.
If you're a seasoned HR expert or someone taking their first steps into the world of hiring, you'll know that interviews are the lynchpin of building exceptional teams.
In the hiring process, interviews serve as the bridge between a candidate's CV and their potential to drive your company forward. They're the moments when you unravel the person behind the credentials, gauge their skills, and decide whether they're the next star player in your team.
However, conducting interviews is more than just a friendly conversation. It's about making data-driven, objective, and strategic hiring decisions.
In this comprehensive guide, we'll delve into the intricate world of job interviews, equipping you with the skills, strategies, and knowledge to conduct interviews with precision.
Here’s what you’ll learn:
- The different types of job interviews
- How to prepare when conducting interviews
- Creating a positive candidate experience
- Effective interview techniques
- Sample questions to ask
- How to evaluate candidate fit
- Avoiding unconscious bias
- How to handle and overcome interview challenges
- Following up and making the right decision
- Free interview template and worksheet
Understanding Different Types of Job Interviews
Job interviews come in various formats, each with its unique approach and purpose. These formats serve as the tools in your hiring toolbox. Understanding when and how to use them is crucial for making informed hiring decisions.
Let's take a closer look at the various job interview types.
1. Structured Interviews
Structured interviews are like a well-rehearsed play. They follow a set script, with interviewers asking the same questions to all candidates. This format ensures consistency in the assessment process.
Structured interviews are excellent for comparing candidates objectively. They provide a level playing field and help reduce bias in the hiring process. You can efficiently assess specific skills and qualifications.
However, the structured nature may make interviews feel robotic. Candidates might not get the chance to showcase their unique qualities. Striking the right balance between structure and flexibility is crucial.
When to Use
Employ structured interviews when you need to evaluate candidates based on specific qualifications, technical skills, or competencies. They work well for roles with clear skill requirements.
2. Unstructured Interviews
Unstructured interviews are like candid conversations, akin to chatting with an old friend. Interviewers engage candidates in free-flowing discussions, often without a strict list of questions.
These interviews allow candidates to express themselves more freely, giving you a glimpse of their personality and how well they might fit into your company culture. They provide a holistic understanding beyond what's on a CV.
On the downside, the lack of structure can make it challenging to compare candidates. Interviewer bias can seep in, affecting the overall assessment's fairness.
When to Use
Unstructured interviews shine when you want to delve into a candidate's soft skills, communication abilities, and cultural fit. They are particularly useful for roles where adaptability and interpersonal skills are vital, and can also be a good way to gain initial insight into a candidate in a first round interview.
3. Behavioural Interviews
Think of behavioural interviews as storytelling sessions. Interviewers ask candidates to recount past experiences, focusing on how they behaved in specific situations. The premise is that past actions reflect future performance.
Behavioural interviews are excellent for predicting how a candidate might behave in future situations. They help unearth problem-solving skills, leadership qualities, and conflict resolution strategies.
These interviews can be time-consuming, as candidates need to provide detailed examples. They might also lead to rehearsed responses, potentially affecting the authenticity of the interaction.
When to Use
Opt for behavioural interviews when you want insights into a candidate's past actions and behaviours. They work best for roles where specific competencies and behavioural traits are crucial.
4. Situational Interviews
Situational interviews are akin to a hypothetical test. Candidates are presented with realistic scenarios they might face in the role. Interviewers evaluate how candidates would approach and solve these situations.
These interviews allow you to assess a candidate's problem-solving abilities, decision-making skills, and their capacity to handle job-related challenges. They offer valuable insights into how candidates might perform on the job.
Creating relevant and accurate situational questions can be time-intensive. Candidates' responses might not always align with their actual future performance, making these interviews somewhat speculative.
When to Use
Employ situational interviews when you want to test a candidate's ability to handle on-the-job challenges. They are beneficial for roles requiring critical decision-making, such as leadership or management positions. A final stage interview might be the right time to use situational questions.
The key is to select the most suitable format for your hiring needs, ensuring a more effective and efficient interview process.
Preparation for Conducting Successful Interviews
Successful job interviews are not just about meeting candidates and asking questions. The key to an effective interview lies in meticulous preparation
This section will guide you through the steps to ensure you're fully prepared for each interview.
Review Candidate CVs and Application Materials
Before meeting with a candidate, it's crucial to thoroughly review their application materials, including their CV and cover letter. Pay attention to the following:
- Qualifications: Check if the candidate meets the basic qualifications for the role, such as education, experience, and required skills.
- Relevant experience: Understand the candidate's work history, focusing on roles and projects that align with the position they're interviewing for.
- Achievements: Take note of specific accomplishments, awards, or accolades mentioned in their application materials.
- Career progression: Examine their career trajectory to gauge how their experience has evolved over time.
- Motivations: Try to identify the candidate's motivations for applying to your company and this particular role.
Set Clear Interview Objectives
Each interview should have clear objectives. Ask yourself:
- What are you looking to assess in this interview? For example, is it technical skills, cultural fit, or problem-solving abilities?
- What are the key job requirements for this role? Ensure your questions are aligned with these requirements.
- What outcomes are you expecting from this interview? Determine what you should know or be able to evaluate by the end of the interview.
You can also brief the candidate by sharing some insight as to what the interview will entail – in fact, 48% of candidates respond positively to receiving interview information ahead of time.
Align Questions with Job Requirements
Based on your objectives, you should develop a set of questions that align with the job requirements. Your questions should be:
- Structured: Frame your questions in a way that guides candidates to provide detailed and relevant responses. Avoid open-ended or vague queries.
- Situational and behavioural: Use a mix of situational and behavioural questions to assess both a candidate's problem-solving skills and their past behaviours.
- Role-specific: Tailor your questions to the role's specific responsibilities and requirements. For instance, if the role involves leadership, ask questions related to leadership challenges.
- Consistent: Ensure that you ask the same core questions to all candidates applying for the same role. This consistency allows for a fair comparison.
Candidates appreciate interviewers who are well-informed about the company, industry trends, and the role itself. Before the interview:
- Research the company: Familiarise yourself with your company's mission, culture, recent news, and any notable achievements.
- Know the role: Understand the role you're hiring for, including the core responsibilities, goals, and challenges.
- Industry insights: Be aware of current industry trends, challenges, and opportunities.
Develop a Comfortable Setting
Creating a comfortable and professional environment is vital for a successful interview. Ensure:
- The interview location: Choose a quiet and private location for the interview, free from distractions.
- Interview materials: Have all necessary materials on hand, including the candidate's CV, your interview questions, and a notepad for taking notes.
- Logistics: Double-check any technical or logistical details, such as video conferencing tools (for remote interviews) or parking arrangements.
Be respectful of the candidate's time. Start and end the interview on time, and provide a clear schedule at the beginning. This helps to create a positive candidate experience.
Proper preparation is the foundation for conducting successful interviews. It not only ensures that you make the most of the limited time you have with candidates but also contributes to a more equitable and effective assessment of their suitability for the role.
Creating a Positive Candidate Experience
In the world of recruitment, creating a positive candidate experience isn't just a nice-to-have; it's a must-do. An exceptional candidate experience goes a long way in attracting top talent, promoting your company's reputation, and ensuring that candidates leave the interview with a positive impression.
This section explores why a positive candidate experience is crucial and provides strategies for creating one.
Why a Positive Candidate Experience Matters
A positive candidate experience can significantly impact your hiring process and your organisation as a whole:
- Attract top talent: In today's competitive job market, the best candidates have options. A great experience can make your company more appealing to them.
- Brand image: Every interaction a candidate has with your company shapes their perception of your brand. A positive experience leads to a positive image.
- Referrals: Happy candidates are more likely to recommend your company to others, which can be a powerful source of referrals.
- Employee retention: The way candidates are treated during the interview process can influence their decision to stay with your company in the long run.
Strategies for a Positive Candidate Experience
- Timely communication: Communication is key. Ensure that you communicate promptly with candidates at every stage. Acknowledge the receipt of their application, notify them of interview dates, and provide feedback post-interview.
- Respect candidates' time: Valuing candidates' time shows your company's respect for them. Stick to the agreed-upon interview schedule and avoid last-minute cancellations.
- Create a comfortable environment: From the moment they walk in, make sure candidates feel welcome. Offer a glass of water, tea, or coffee, and make them comfortable in the interview room.
- Be courteous and respectful: Treat candidates with respect, irrespective of the outcome. Show appreciation for their interest in your company.
- Introduce the team: If applicable, introduce candidates to the interview panel. This can help put candidates at ease and give them a sense of the company culture.
- Offer insights into company culture: Provide candidates with an authentic glimpse into your company's culture. This includes sharing your company's values, work environment, and expectations.
- Transparency: Be honest and transparent about the role, the company, and the hiring process. Set clear expectations from the beginning.
- Feedback: Offer constructive feedback to candidates after the interview. Even if they're not the right fit, your feedback can help them improve and leave a positive impression. 30% of candidates say that they have attended at least one interview and not heard back from the hiring company – don’t leave yours hanging.
- Manage expectations: Ensure candidates have a clear understanding of the next steps and the expected timeline for a decision.
- Personalised approach: Tailor your approach to individual candidates. Recognise that different candidates have different needs and preferences.
- Gather feedback: Encourage candidates to provide feedback on their interview experience. Use this feedback to continually improve your interview process.
- Follow up: After the interview, follow up with candidates in a timely manner. Whether it's an offer or rejection, communicate the outcome professionally.
A positive candidate experience is a reflection of your company's values and culture. By creating an environment where candidates feel respected, valued, and engaged, you not only enhance your recruitment efforts but also contribute to building a positive brand reputation.
Effective Interview Techniques
The interview process is your opportunity to delve deeper into a candidate's qualifications, experiences, and personality to determine if they're the right fit for your organisation. To make the most of this opportunity, mastering effective interview techniques is paramount.
This section will introduce you to some key techniques that will help you uncover valuable insights about your candidates.
Active listening is the cornerstone of a successful interview. It involves not only hearing what candidates are saying but also understanding and processing the information. Here's how you can hone your active listening skills:
- Stay focused: Pay full attention to the candidate. Avoid distractions and maintain eye contact to show that you're actively engaged in the conversation.
- Ask open-ended questions: Encourage candidates to share more by asking open-ended questions. These are questions that can't be answered with a simple "yes" or "no" and require candidates to elaborate.
- Avoid interruptions: Let the candidate finish their thoughts before you respond. Interrupting can disrupt the flow of conversation and may lead to incomplete answers.
- Take notes: Jot down key points during the interview. This will help you remember important details later when you're evaluating candidates.
- Empathise: Try to understand the candidate's perspective and feelings. This can help build rapport and make the interviewee feel more comfortable.
Probing questions are designed to go beyond surface-level responses and encourage candidates to provide more comprehensive answers. They help you gain deeper insights into their skills, experiences, and problem-solving abilities. Here are some tips for using probing questions effectively:
- Ask "how" and "why": Start your questions with "how" or "why" to encourage candidates to explain their thought processes and reasoning.
- Explore scenarios: Present hypothetical situations relevant to the job and ask how candidates would approach them. This can reveal their problem-solving skills and adaptability.
- Seek specifics: If a candidate mentions an achievement, ask for specific details like the outcome, their role, and the challenges they faced. This ensures that their accomplishments are backed by substance.
- Clarify ambiguities: If a candidate's response is vague or unclear, don't hesitate to ask for clarification. It's important to ensure you have a complete understanding of their answer.
- Follow-up: Building on the candidate's responses, ask follow-up questions that drill down into specific aspects of their experience. This can unveil hidden talents and traits.
While probing questions dig deeper into a candidate's responses, follow-up questions take it a step further. They show that you're actively engaged in the conversation and keen to explore specific aspects of a candidate's qualifications or experiences.
Here's how to use follow-up questions effectively:
- Demonstrate interest: Let candidates know that you're interested in their responses by asking for additional details or examples.
- Show curiosity: If something in the candidate's response piques your interest or raises a question, don't hesitate to ask for more information. This can lead to discovering valuable insights.
- Verify information: If a candidate provides impressive information, use follow-up inquiries to verify its accuracy. This ensures that you're basing your assessment on facts.
- Revisit key points: If there's a key aspect you want to revisit or clarify, use follow-up inquiries to ensure you have a comprehensive understanding.
Essential Recruiter Interview Questions
As an interviewer, you're tasked with uncovering a candidate's skills, competencies, and personality traits. The following set of essential interview questions is designed to help you evaluate candidates thoroughly. You'll find a variety of questions to assess technical skills, behavioural competencies, problem-solving abilities, and cultural fit.
- Can you describe your experience with [specific technology or tool relevant to the job]?
- What are the most significant technical challenges you've encountered in previous roles, and how did you overcome them?
- How would you rate your proficiency in [specific technical skill]? Can you provide examples of how you've applied it effectively in your work?
- Do you have experience with [specific programming language or software]? Can you tell us about a project where you used it extensively?
- What certifications or qualifications do you hold that are relevant to this position, and how do you think they contribute to your suitability for the role?
- Can you give an example of a situation where you had to handle a challenging team member? How did you manage it, and what was the outcome?
- Describe a time when you had to meet a tight deadline. How did you prioritise tasks and ensure the project was completed on time?
- Tell us about a time when you encountered resistance from a team member during a project. How did you address this, and what was the final result?
- Can you share an example of a project where you demonstrated leadership skills? How did you motivate your team, and what was the project's impact?
- Describe an instance where you had to adapt to a significant change in a project or work process. How did you approach it, and what did you learn from the experience?
- Tell us about a complex problem you've encountered in your work. How did you go about solving it, and what was the outcome?
- Provide an example of a situation where you identified an opportunity for process improvement. How did you implement the change, and what were the results?
- Describe a project where you had to manage limited resources or a tight budget. How did you make the most of what you had?
- Can you share an experience where you were faced with conflicting priorities? How did you handle this, and what did you learn from the situation?
- Give an example of a time when you made a significant decision in your role. What information did you base your decision on, and what was the impact?
- What drew you to our company, and why do you think you'd be a good fit for our culture and values?
- Describe your ideal work environment. How does it align with the company culture you're seeking?
- What's your preferred communication style in a team setting, and how do you adapt when working with diverse personalities?
- Tell us about a time when you faced a challenging situation at work due to a misalignment of values. How did you handle it?
- What role do you see yourself playing in our team, and how would you contribute to the overall dynamics and success of the group?
These essential interview questions provide a well-rounded perspective on a candidate's qualifications, aptitudes, and suitability for your organisation and will help you make data-driven, objective hiring decisions that benefit both your organisation and the candidates you're considering.
Evaluating Candidate Fit
As a hiring manager or recruiter, evaluating candidate fit is a multifaceted process that goes beyond the CV and the interview performance. It involves assessing whether a candidate possesses the right mix of technical qualifications and cultural fit to thrive in your organisation.
Here are strategies for assessing candidates holistically and determining their potential for growth and contribution to your company.
1. Technical Qualifications Assessment
Before diving into the nuances of cultural fit, it's crucial to evaluate a candidate's technical qualifications thoroughly. This includes their relevant skills, experience, and certifications.
- Some ways to assess their technical qualifications include:
- Reviewing their CV, portfolio, and any work samples they've submitted.
- Asking in-depth technical questions tailored to the role and job requirements.
- Requesting candidates to demonstrate their skills through technical tests, presentations, or exercises.
- Seeking references from previous employers who can vouch for their technical prowess.
2. Cultural Fit Assessment
Cultural fit is a vital factor in determining whether a candidate will thrive in your organisation. It involves evaluating whether a candidate's values, work style, and personality align with your company's culture.
Consider the following:
- During the interview, ask questions that gauge a candidate's alignment with your company's values, vision, and work culture.
- Assess whether their communication style, teamwork preferences, and work habits align with those of your team.
- Seek input from colleagues who have interacted with the candidate, as they can provide valuable insights into cultural fit.
- Pay attention to a candidate's responses to questions about how they handle challenges, resolve conflicts, and contribute to team success.
3. Potential for Growth
Beyond assessing a candidate's current qualifications, it's essential to consider their potential for growth. Identify candidates who exhibit a willingness to learn, adapt, and evolve in their roles.
Here's how to evaluate growth potential:
- Ask about a candidate's experiences with learning new skills or adapting to changes in their previous roles.
- Inquire about their long-term career goals and whether they align with opportunities within your organisation.
- Assess their response to feedback and their willingness to take on new challenges.
- Determine whether they have a history of seeking out additional responsibilities or professional development.
4. Contribution to the Organisation
Ultimately, you want to hire candidates who can make a meaningful contribution to your organisation. Consider their potential impact by:
- Requesting examples of past achievements and projects that made a difference in their previous roles.
- Evaluating how they approach problem-solving and their ability to contribute fresh ideas and insights.
- Assessing their ability to collaborate with others, lead projects, and mentor colleagues.
- Inquiring about their motivation for joining your organisation and how they envision contributing to its success.
The process of evaluating candidate fit should be thorough and thoughtful. It requires a balanced consideration of both technical qualifications and cultural fit. By assessing potential for growth and contributions to the organisation, you can identify candidates who align with your company's goals and values and have the potential to thrive and make a lasting impact.
Avoiding Unconscious Bias in Interviews
Unconscious bias can creep into the hiring process without us even realising it. It's essential to recognise and mitigate these biases to ensure that interviews are conducted fairly, equitably, and with the aim of promoting diversity and inclusion within your organisation. Here are some guidelines to help you avoid unconscious bias in interviews.
Awareness and Training
Start by raising awareness of unconscious bias among your interviewers. Offer training and resources that help them understand the different forms of bias and how it can impact decision-making. By recognising these biases, interviewers are better equipped to counteract them.
Use a structured interview format where all candidates are asked the same set of questions. This approach provides a consistent and objective basis for comparison. Make sure these questions are relevant to the job and assess the skills and competencies required.
Diverse Interview Panels
Whenever possible, create diverse interview panels that include individuals from various backgrounds, genders, and experiences. A diverse panel can help reduce bias, provide different perspectives, and create a more inclusive interview process.
Clear Evaluation Criteria
Define clear and specific evaluation criteria for the role you're hiring for. Establish what competencies, skills, and qualities are essential. Share this information with interviewers to guide their assessments.
Avoid Personal Questions
Steer clear of asking candidates personal questions that are not directly related to the job. Such inquiries can lead to unconscious bias based on factors like age, marital status, or familial situation.
Limit Small Talk
While small talk at the beginning of an interview is common to build rapport, be cautious not to let it steer into potentially biased or irrelevant topics. Keep the focus on professional matters.
Be Mindful of Stereotypes
Stereotypes can often lead to unconscious bias. Remind interviewers to be aware of any preconceived notions they might have and to judge candidates based on their qualifications, experience, and responses during the interview.
Encourage interviewers to use a consistent evaluation process, taking notes during interviews and scoring candidates based on the predefined criteria. This structured approach minimises the influence of unconscious bias on the hiring decision.
Periodically review and reflect on your interviewing process to ensure that unconscious bias is actively being addressed. Solicit feedback from your interviewers and candidates to identify areas of improvement.
Regularly review your hiring data to assess whether unconscious bias is affecting your hiring outcomes. If you find disparities, act on them by adjusting your process and addressing any bias.
Use inclusive language in your job postings and during interviews. Words and phrases can unintentionally signal bias. Being mindful of your language can promote a more inclusive environment.
Addressing unconscious bias in interviews requires diligence and a commitment to diversity and inclusion. By implementing these strategies, you can create a fair and equitable interview process that results in hiring decisions based on merit and qualifications, while fostering a more diverse and inclusive workforce.
Handling Challenging Interviews
Interviews don't always go as planned. Sometimes, you encounter challenging situations, such as nervous candidates, unexpected issues, or difficult conversations. Knowing how to navigate these scenarios is crucial to ensure that you gather the information you need and maintain a positive candidate experience. Here are some tips for handling challenging interviews effectively.
Put Candidates at Ease
Nervous candidates can be challenging to interview because their anxiety may hinder them from showcasing their true abilities. Begin the interview by creating a welcoming and supportive atmosphere. Offer some small talk or casual conversation at the start to help candidates feel more comfortable.
Pay close attention to what nervous candidates are saying. Be patient and allow them time to express themselves, even if it takes a bit longer. Active listening demonstrates empathy and can help ease their anxiety.
Use Open-Ended Questions
Ask open-ended questions that encourage candidates to share their experiences and insights. These questions typically begin with words like "how," "what," and "why," prompting candidates to provide detailed responses that help you evaluate their suitability for the role.
Address Unexpected Issues
Unexpected issues can arise during interviews, such as technology glitches, interviewee tardiness, or disruptions. Stay calm and adaptable, and have backup plans ready. For example, if a candidate's internet connection fails, reschedule the interview to avoid technical disruptions.
Redirect the Conversation
If the conversation veers off-topic or becomes unproductive, gently redirect it back to the relevant areas. Politely but assertively guide candidates back to the key questions and topics you need to cover.
In situations where a candidate doesn't provide a clear or sufficient response, ask them to explain the situation further or suggest alternatives. This encourages problem-solving and demonstrates their ability to adapt and think on their feet.
Even in challenging interviews, maintain professionalism and respect. Avoid being confrontational or dismissive, and always treat candidates with courtesy.
If a candidate's response is unclear or doesn't fully address your question, ask for clarification. This allows candidates to provide a more focused response and ensures you have a complete understanding of their experiences and abilities.
Manage Difficult Candidates
In rare instances, you may encounter candidates who are uncooperative, confrontational, or disengaged. Stay calm and professional, and continue with the interview as best as possible. If the situation becomes untenable, consider terminating the interview politely.
Provide Feedback and Reassurance
If you sense that a candidate is struggling, offer constructive feedback and reassurance. Let them know you value their input and appreciate their effort, even if the interview has been challenging.
Debrief and Reflect
After a challenging interview, take time to debrief and reflect on what went well and what could be improved. This helps you refine your interview technique for future candidates.
Challenging interviews can be opportunities to uncover valuable insights about candidates' abilities to handle pressure, adaptability, and problem-solving skills. By using these strategies, you can navigate these interviews effectively, ensuring a productive and positive experience for both you and the candidate.
Following Up and Making Data-Driven Decisions
The interview process doesn't end when the candidate leaves the virtual or physical room. What you do in the aftermath of the interview is just as crucial. Follow-up and data-driven decision-making are integral to ensuring that you make the right hiring choices and provide valuable feedback to candidates. Here's how to proceed:
After the interview, take the time to assess how the candidate performed against your predetermined criteria. Create a structured evaluation form that you and your interview panel can fill out consistently. This form should include various competencies, skills, and cultural fit indicators.
Provide candidates with constructive feedback, whether they were successful or not. This is a chance to offer insights into their interview performance, helping them to improve and potentially reapply in the future.
Candidates appreciate prompt responses, so aim to get back to them as soon as possible. Delayed communication can lead to a negative candidate experience, and even successful candidates may accept other offers if they're kept waiting.
Collaborate with Your Team
Discuss the candidate's performance with the interview panel or team members who were present. Their perspectives may provide different insights and help you arrive at a more well-rounded evaluation.
Consider the Whole Picture
Avoid making hiring decisions solely based on one interviewer's opinion. Instead, consider the aggregate feedback from the entire interview panel. This will give you a more comprehensive view of the candidate's suitability.
Use a scoring system to quantify the interview responses, with predefined criteria for what constitutes a strong answer. This system helps eliminate biases and ensures an objective approach.
After assessing the interview performance of all candidates, rank them against one another based on how well they meet the job requirements and cultural fit criteria.
Use the data collected during interviews to inform your hiring decisions. If one candidate stands out clearly as the best fit for the role, use this objective evaluation to make an informed choice.
Periodically review your interview process and evaluate whether it's yielding the right hires. Use the data collected to make improvements in your approach. Are there any trends in the type of candidates who succeed or fail in your interviews? Identifying patterns can help you enhance your hiring strategy.
Communicate the Decision
Once the decision is made, reach out to the selected candidate and extend the job offer. Communicate with unsuccessful candidates, offering feedback and thanking them for their time and effort.
Feedback for Continual Learning
Lastly, collect feedback from candidates about their interview experience with your organisation. This not only shows that you value their opinions but also provides valuable insights for your team's continual learning and improvement.
Making data-driven decisions means you'll be better equipped to select the best candidates for your organisation while maintaining a respectful and transparent hiring process.
Free Download: Interview Template & Worksheet
Mastering the art of job interviews is a fundamental skill for recruiters and hiring managers. Your ability to conduct effective interviews has a profound impact on your organisation's success, its culture, and the lives of candidates.
This comprehensive guide has equipped you with the knowledge and best practices required to excel in the art of job interviews.
To help keep you on track when it comes to actually conducting an interview, we’ve put together a free template and worksheet. Download your free copy now and start overseeing more efficient and effective interviews.
Download the worksheet:
Note: The template is an example; you may need to adjust it according to your organisation's requirements and industry standards.