Whether you’ve just gotten a massive promotion that means you’ll have to hire more team members, or whether you’re an experienced interviewer just looking to polish your skills, it can’t hurt to practice. Answer the following questions and count to how many answer options you responded with a YES to figure out how good of an interviewer you are. And if you’re a novice interviewer, fear not - all of the below can also be used as pointers!
Check all that apply:
Before the candidate gets there, you:
- Read over the job description once more. Doesn’t matter if you’ve spent your past week interviewing candidates for this position, you just want to be triple sure!
- Print out the candidate’s resume and go over it once more. It’s always good to know exactly where their relevant experiences lie.
- Prepare some potential questions you can ask the candidate based on their CV. You highlight the areas that especially pique your interest and might be most useful for the position you are looking to fill.
- Go over the must-haves of the position and of the company. What specific values or experience are you expecting the candidate to bring to the table? What are some absolute dealbreakers that would mean they will not be getting the job?
- Freshen up and look your best. Just as much as the candidate needs to make a good impression, so do you. It is a two-way system after all, and the interviewee should want to work at the company as much as the company should want to hire them.
When greeting the interviewee, you:
- Are punctual. The interviewee is taking time out of their day to meet with you, and you respect that.
- Look them in the eyes and give them a firm handshake. This is their first impression of the company and of a potential colleague. You want to make sure it’s a good one.
- Address them by name and ask them how to pronounce their name if you’re not sure. It’s important to make the candidate see that you value their presence.
- Make sure the location you are guiding them to is formal yet comfortable, allowing for a natural exchange without any intrusions.
- Start the interview softly, with mutual introductions and perhaps some talk about their journey there. The interviewee shouldn’t feel pressured right off the bat; you want this to be a pleasant experience.
During the interview, you:
- Drive the interview as a conversation rather than a question-answer panel. You want the candidate to feel as at ease as possible as they tell you about themselves and about how they would fit within the company.
- Focus on nonverbal cues as much as verbal ones. It’s not just the words coming out of their mouth, but also the ways in which they express themselves that will come into play if the candidate is hired. You know that a bit of nervousness is okay, but that the candidate should be confident in the skills they are demonstrating.
- Practice active listening. When the interviewee is telling you about a particular experience or skill, make sure you guide them in the right direction but that you listen thoroughly to everything they have to say. You are only part of the conversation, not all of it.
- Take notes. You’ll want to remember this later! Good thing you already printed out the resume because now you can use it to jot some more notes on.
- Ask relevant questions. When the interviewee is telling you about a past experience you make sure to ask relevant questions that will help you make a fair evaluation. You sometimes also use questions to help them stay on topic.
- Personalize your questions and tailor the interview based on the interviewee’s resume. You want to get as much information about their professional life as possible.
- Resort to make-believe scenarios every now and then. They help you see the candidate in action and assess whether they truly are a ‘creative problem solver’ or a ‘strong leader.’ Past experience isn’t everything, and you know that the candidate might sometimes be faced with situations that require them to think outside of the box.
- Aren’t judgmental. Evaluating clients on anything other than what will be directly relevant to the role is a big no-no, and you make sure to remain unbiased as you assess their fit.
- Are honest about the position. You don’t promise what you can’t deliver because you want the candidate to only work here if they truly want to. This is how you help build a strong team.
After the interview, you:
- Answer all of the interviewee’s questions. Do they have any last minute questions about the position or the follow up to the interview? You are as thorough as possibly to help avoid any confusion.
- Finish how you started off, with a firm handshake and eye contact. You like making the interviewee feel at ease and you know that any negative indicators won’t be helpful at this point.
- Create a soft finish to the conversation. You don’t need to rush off to another meeting, and you let the interviewee take their time as they gather their stuff and leave the room.
- End on a positive note. Interviews are stressful as they are, so you make sure to smile and thank the interviewee for their time.
If you’ve checked yes to more than 18 of the points, congratulations! You’re a master interviewer. Just make sure to polish your skills every now and then and you’ll be good to go.
If you’ve checked yes to 17 or fewer, you might need a bit more practice. Try implementing some of the tactics below to get you to master interviewer status:
- Get to know the job better, and make a list of must-haves and dealbreakers. Then write down the questions that you will definitely be asking the interviewee, which will put your mind at ease and make it easier to go off the list.
- Practice with coworkers. Setting up mock interviews can help you not only calm your nerves, but also perfect those fine skills to get them up and running for the next time you need to interview a candidate.
- Have a set evaluation system. Grading answers from 1 to 10 or having a scale from poor to excellent might help you produce more precise input when it comes to the final decision-making step. Just make sure the interviewee can’t see the notes you’re taking!
- Figure out some of your preconceived notions. Tools like the Harvard Implicit Bias Test might be helpful in showing you some unconscious biases that you didn’t even know you had.