The interview portion is quite possibly the most integral part of the talent acquisition process. When it’s your turn to be the interviewer and not the interviewee, you want to make sure you do it right.
Maybe it’s your first time in this position, or maybe you’re a seasoned pro but have been getting less than stellar results recently. Whatever you’re experience level, continuing to improve your interviewing skills helps you better identify and hire the best candidate for your organization - and avoid hiring someone who simply does not fit.
Here are five things to keep in mind when interviewing candidates:
When interviewing for a job, there’s a personal goal you’re seeking: To get the job. You might spend ample time planning what to wear, researching the company and practicing answering the most common interview questions. When you’re the interviewer, though - especially an experienced one - it’s easy to rush and merely glance over the resume minutes before the meeting.
This can often lead to an unstructured and unorganized conversation instead of a formal interview. Take time to mentally prepare. Ask yourself what you would like to know about the candidate. Plan open-ended questions that require more than a yes or no answer. What qualities will make them a good fit for the company? Which skills are essential and which ones can they develop over time? Then list questions that will help you get the answers you need.
In addition, also be prepared to answer any questions the candidate may ask you about the organization, including company benefits, vacation policies, their specific job duties and even what it’s like working there.
This may seem like a common-sense suggestion, but intently listen to how a candidate answers questions in addition to what they say. Do you feel they are answering your questions as honestly as possible or telling you what they think you want to hear? Also, if the interview is being conducted by several people at once, the candidate may be asked the same question numerous times. This format provides an opportunity to hear those responses and check for inconsistencies or generate follow-up questions if a topic warrants more details.
If a candidate is serious about the opportunity, they may naturally consider the interview more formal. Find ways to lessen that formal feeling to help them relax. By asking questions that may seem as if they have nothing to do with the job, you give them the opportunity to let their guard down. This is a great way to find out if the candidate is a fit for the job and if your company is a place they will be happy.
"Interviewing is all about building relationships," said Mark Douyard, Senior Physician Recruiter at Bayhealth. "Open-ended questions always work best because you want the candidate to talk. I always ask why they are looking and what they are looking for.
"I also ask them to tell me five things about themselves that I can’t find on their CV. I start by telling them five things about myself."
Beyond the specific role, ask questions that help you understand what else is important to them. Are they looking for a great place to raise a family or an area with a vibrant social scene? Just be sure to take care not to ask questions that could be perceived inappropriate or discriminatory.
Some interviewers use the strategy of asking silly questions such as, "If you were an animal what kind of animal would you be?" On a limited basis, these types of questions might serve as an ice breaker or provide a glimpse into their personality, but generally they don’t provide a lot of useful information - and can potentially annoy serious candidates.
While you are evaluating your candidate, also keep in mind you’re being assessed as well. Does your appearance represent your organization? Is your communication - both verbal and nonverbal - revealing something unintended? An interview serves two purposes: You’re there to determine whether a candidate is a good fit for your organization, and the candidate is there to determine if you’re the right next step for their career.