The interview is the single most important candidate selection tool after the application and/or resume. There are many factors that go into conducting a fruitful job interview. However, the most important factor may be understanding how to become a good interviewer. How can you adjust your methods so your interview process is better?
With these strategies for facilitating interviews and some practice, you can help you learn how to become the best interviewer around.
Conducting Interviews: Best Practices
The interview is not something to take lightly or make up as you go along. Preparation is a key factor in a smooth experience. Remember that you are not only a hiring manager who is finding the best candidate for a job; you are promoting your company and brand.
Review Each Candidate’s Material
Reread the candidate’s resume and cover letter as well as any information you have available from an application, background check, or other research. If your human resources team has done any searches on social media, for example, review this as well.
Understand the Job Description and Requirements
As a hiring manager, your comprehension of the job you’re filling will help guide questions and clarify any misunderstandings the applicant may have about the role. Remember that they will also have time to ask you follow-up questions, too. If they are job-related, you’ll need to have a good understanding of the work they will be doing.
Here’s more on writing a clear and compelling job description.
Prepare a List of Consistent Interview Questions to Ask
Asking the right questions are critical to getting constructive, helpful answers.
Interview questions to ask include:
- Why do you think you’d excel in this job?
- Can you give examples of projects that display [name a specific skill set you’re looking for here]
- What interests you about working for this company?
- What do you hope to bring to the position?
- Can you share an example from your work that you’re especially proud of.
- Can you share an example of problem solving for an especially big challenge you faced?
For each open role, consider using the same interview questions for each interview. All candidates applying for a role should have the opportunity to answer the same questions and be allotted the same amount of time. This also lets you evaluate them based on standard criteria.
Avoid Asking These Questions
In the United States, there are specific candidate questions that managers should avoid asking because they are against specific employment laws. If your candidate is located in California or New York, it is against the law to ask questions related to salary information.
Avoid asking interview questions like:
- How old are you? (or) What is your date of birth?
- Have you ever declared bankruptcy? (or) Have you ever filed for bankruptcy?
- Do you have any children? (or) Are you planning on having any children?
- Are you married?
- Do you have any arrests or convictions?
- Do you have any diseases? (or) Do you have any physical or mental impairments?
- Do you have a car?
- Do you have a work visa?
Refresh Your Knowledge of the Company’s Mission, Structure, and Benefits
Even if you have worked at your current company for a long time, a quick briefing of the purpose, goals, and mission can help keep you on task. Familiarize yourself with the language used to describe the company and what it does. Become adept at explaining how it is organized and what each location or department contributes to the overall purpose.
Additionally, be prepared to discuss company benefits, vacation policies, and other commonly asked candidate questions.
Good interviews rarely happen by accident. These proven tactics provide the most consistent results.
Choose your Interview Questions Carefully
Make sure your list of questions matches up with the role you’re interviewing for, including the skills and knowledge needed for the job. In addition to direct inquiries about qualifications, include some questions about personality, work ethic, and attitude. You can also address those topics through situational questions, but avoid questions that could be viewed as discriminatory.
Have an Interview Structure
Unstructured interviews have many pitfalls and can waste time and focus. Instead, have a very clear order of events during your time with a candidate, and stick to a schedule. Ideally, you’ll start with a brief introduction, follow with the questions, and close with time for them to ask questions.
Take Notes and be a Good Listener
Pay close attention to what the interviewee says and ask follow-up questions as they arise. Eye contact and maintaining an active listening posture can show the candidate that you hear what they say.
Be sure to take notes as well, but avoid spending more time writing than showing interest in what they have to say. Make brief notes of anything that stands out, and take time immediately after the interview to write more lengthy observations while they’re still fresh in your memory. If you are concerned about the time you spend writing, create a scorecard or similar worksheet that you can quickly fill in with relevant information.
Rate Each Candidate’s Answers Consistently
A quality scale of poor to excellent can be an effective way to rank candidates. To avoid bias, collect all of your notes for all of the candidates and rank them in one sitting.
Make sure to rate each candidate’s answers based on an agreed-upon list of job candidate criteria that you’ve established with the hiring manager.
Show You Care
Candidates do better when they recognize that a human being is doing their interview. Use these tips to keep things warm and professional at all times, improving the candidate experience as you go.
Related: Download our guide to improving your candidate experience.
Display a Welcoming Personality
Greet them when they arrive with a “Thank you for coming.” Offer them something to drink or ask how their trip to the office went. Smile, if it comes naturally, and keep steady eye contact as you speak. Remember that putting your body language at ease will help the candidate feel at ease too.
Focus on the Conversation and Be Respectful
Your time is precious, but so is the candidate’s. Keep the banter to a minimum and show respect for their day by keeping on task. Be brief with your questions, don’t stray from the goal, and take time to hear their answer before moving on.
Encourage and Answer the Candidate’s Questions
Remember this interview is not just about qualifying the candidate. The candidate is also qualifying you. Allow time at the end for any questions the candidate may want to ask.
While it is ideal to have them hold all questions until this time, allow them to ask a follow-up question if something comes up that may help clarify the opportunity. If you can’t answer their questions, direct them to someone who can, or offer to get back to them with the information.
Take Your Time
There’s a delicate balance between respecting the time slot and rushing. Speak slowly and clearly, and don’t make the candidate feel that they are putting a strain on your schedule. Remind them that they are worth meeting with.
Close on a Positive
Let the candidate know what comes next, including a timeline for when a decision will be made, and end the discussion on a formal but sincere note.
Improve Your Judgement
Bias is a real danger in interviewing. Everyone has pre-formed opinions, and it’s best to accept this fact and make real attempts at working through them. These tips can help.
Take an Implicit Association Test (IAT)
If you haven’t already taken Harvard’s IAT test, now’s the perfect time. This assessment can tell you what your biases are so that you can address them.
Think About Your Unique Prejudices
Everyone has personal opinions based on their unique backgrounds and experiences. Consider what prejudices you may have and how they may affect your role. If you’re unsure if your prejudice is interfering with hiring great candidates, ask another colleague to join you in the interview and assessment tasks.
Learn From Your Mistakes
Since hiring requires people, and people aren’t perfect, hiring will never be perfect. We can work to make it better, however, by acknowledging what went wrong and making changes.
Data can provide incredible insight into all aspects of the hiring process, including trends that signify human error. Even if you don’t hire a candidate, keep their file on hand for problems down the road, legal issues, or learning opportunities.
Use recruiting metrics and reports from your Applicant Tracking System(ATS) to see how you’re doing with your hiring. Use quality of hire, cost per hire, and turnover metrics to see if you are improving in your hiring methods, or if you need work. Be honest about the findings. (Here’s a guide to choosing the ATS that’s right for you).
It’s OK to ask for help, and there are plenty of professional resources available. Consider videos, workshops, or continuing education courses from colleges and professional organizations to stay on top of hiring trends and avoid pitfalls. This will help you overcome bias and create a more inclusive workforce as well.
At Comeet, we’re also here to help you improve the way you hire. Find out why recruiters love to use our automated tools and get a free demo today!