Employer Best Practices: Tips for Interviews
The job interview is a critical aspect of the hiring and recruiting process. Here are some "best practice" interviewer tips that you can use to help tilt the odds in favor of finding the best candidate for your open position.
1. Be prepared. Regardless of how good you are at talking off-the-cuff, a job interview isn't the place for a spontaneous conversation. Employers who "wing it" during an interview can come across as ill-prepared or not valuing the position (remember, the job candidate evaluates you and your company just as you're evaluating him or her). The individual seated across from you might be perfect for the job, but if they're turned off by the interview experience and decide to opt out, you'll never know.
Also, be sure to carefully review the candidate's resume beforehand and be certain you fully understand the key requirements of the job you're hiring for.
You may also want to think about providing a realistic job preview. This can help clear up expectations for the candidate while allowing you to see how they perform in the job environment.
2. Set the candidate at ease. A job interview is almost always cause for stress. Don't look at the candidate's nervousness as some sort of "advantage" over him or her. By setting candidates at ease -- something as simple as giving them a glass of water will do -- they'll be more comfortable and open about themselves, which in turn can lead to a more fruitful interview. As you get started, offer a brief introduction of what you want to achieve, give an indication of the proposed length of the interview and let them know there will be time afterward for their questions. Setting the scene is also a way to start building rapport with your potential employee.
3. Use the same criteria for each candidate. Apply the same process and ask the same questions during each job interview. This approach enables you to gather information in a uniform manner and makes the next step -- evaluating how well each person does -- that much easier. It can also help minimize bias or other negative factors that may creep into the interview process.
4. Ask probing and open-ended questions. Questions that invite a "yes" or "no" answer won't help you get beneath the surface with a promising candidate. Among the most important tips for interviews is the need to ask open-ended questions that invite people to open up about their background, ambitions, skills and so on. Such questions might include, "Why are you thinking about leaving your current job?" or "What's the most rewarding experience you've had in your career?" And by listening closely to their answers, you can probe a bit deeper and learn more about what makes the candidate unique.
Remember, many candidates are well-versed in the interview process. Your goal is to shake them out of their pre-packaged answers and get more specific information in order to assess their qualifications.
5. Take notes. Don't try to evaluate how each interview went just on your memory alone. It's okay to take notes during the interview (politely explain to the candidate that you'll be doing so), but try to keep these notes to a minimum - whatever's needed to identify key facts and jog your memory later on.
6. Watch for non-verbal behavior. A candidate's body language is often as informative as the verbal responses they give to your questions. Throughout the interview, keep an eye on their body language, how they sit, their tone of voice in responding to questions, etc. These observations can contribute to a more complete understanding of the candidate's potential.
7. Beware of certain "interviewer errors." We're all prone to making snap impressions of someone we meet for the first time, but it's best to curb that impulse during a job interview. Left unchecked, a first impression (good or bad) can cloud everything that happens afterwards. Stick to the prepared questions and leave your snap impressions out of the equation.
Similarly, beware of the so-called "halo effect." This happens when a candidate's strong point (such as a prestigious school he or she attended or a high-profile former position) colors the interviewer’s experience. Any single fact shouldn't influence the entirety of the conversation.
8. Provide a Realistic Job Preview. Think about setting up a realistic job preview as part of the interview process. It will help set expectations for the candidate while allowing you to see how they perform in the job environment.
9. Conclude the interview on a positive note. Don't forget to allow 10-15 minutes near the end of the interview for the candidate's questions. You can learn a lot by the types of questions he or she asks (if, for instance, they're heavily salary-focused, that could be a red flag), but it also offers the opportunity for you to "sell" your company and make the open position that much more attractive. Finally, thank them for their time, offer some idea of when they'll be contacted about a decision, and show them out. Your friendly demeanor goes a long way toward making the interview a positive experience for everyone involved.