Hire Right, Part IV – Conducting an Effective Job Interview
Note: This is the fourth in our Hire Right series, showing candidates and employers the process of finding the best employees.
Hiring Right means conducting a productive, informative interview. How many of these tips do you follow?
If you’ve followed the tips laid out in Parts I, II, and III of the Hire Right Series, you’ve discovered the best strategies to follow before even meeting a candidate in person. I promise you’ll be hiring the most qualified candidate in no time, but to do that you must first complete everyone’s favorite part of the process – the interview!
As stressful as interviewing is for those making the important and difficult decision of whom to hire, it’s important to respect the fact that a candidate’s professional future is being at least partly determined by how he or she performs in front of at least one stranger for an otherwise random and arbitrary hour.
It’s great, from a job-seeker’s perspective, to ace the interview. It’s even more vital, however, for the person or persons conducting the interview to provide a comfortable, conversational environment that puts candidates at ease. Not everyone will have the perfect answer to every question; remember the candidate’s qualifications and determine an appropriate balance to weigh everything you knew about the person before the interview and what you learned during it.
Here are some tips on how to conduct an effective interview so both you and the interviewee get the most out of it:
Make it Conversational
It’s an interview, not an interrogation. Think about lower-stakes interviews, like the ones you hear on the radio or television, and how the best ones are those that sound more like a conversation. A job interview should feel the same way. You likely have a list of prepared questions, but if the candidate says something interesting, follow up and divert from your original plan.
In fact, a conversational tone can be established before the interview even formally begins. Ask the interviewee about his or her interests and hobbies; making a personal connection can ease the burden from someone who feels pressured to have all the right answers. Starting with a few easy questions gets a tense situation off to a relaxed start.
Part of creating an informal feel to a formal interview is to make sure the candidate has the opportunity to address his or her own curiosity as your questions address yours. A worthy candidate will arrive with a few prepared questions, but those shouldn’t necessarily be saved for the end of the interview. Allow time relatively early for questions from the interviewee. He or she might bring up something you hadn’t thought about, allowing the interview to move in a more revelatory direction.
The idea should be for a candidate to learn as much about the job as the interviewer learns about the candidate.
Candidate First, Job Second
Unless the job you’re filling is unwaveringly specific, your thoughts should focus on how the interviewee best fits the job, not how the job fits the interviewee. You’ll carve out a defined role for the person you hire once he or she is on the job and you know more about what gaps can be filled. But the interview can be used to identify a candidate’s most distinct strengths and how they might best be utilized within the company.
Provide Next Steps
When a candidate leaves the office, he or she should know exactly what comes next. If the process includes a second interview, convey that information. If you’ve heard enough and can begin to decide between multiple candidates, it’s important to share that so each person knows where he or she stands. This can help hold you accountable, too, if you’ve promised a decision by a certain date.
There are numerous ways, many mentioned here, to get the most out of a job interview. The best strategies revolve around making the interviewee comfortable and creating some level of informality. The interviewee is fully aware of the seriousness of a job interview and is trying, for about an hour, to be the best version of himself or herself. That’s a lot of pressure, so it’s OK to grade slightly on a curve if the candidate doesn’t make a perfect first impression.
Remember the reason you requested the interview in the first place. If the candidate is likely a good fit, has the proper qualifications and necessary attributes, and can add to the performance and productivity of your business, cut some slack on the interview. It’s difficult for everybody.
What are some of your most memorable interview experiences? What are your greatest areas for improvement when conducting an interview? Leave a comment below!