Finding a qualified job candidate is challenging enough as it is. The last thing you want to do is hire the wrong candidate simply because your interview process wasn’t effective. Once you’ve narrowed your candidate pool down to a manageable number, it’s time to bring them in for one-on-one interviews. However, at this point, they should already be a match in terms of skills and experience. The purpose of these interviews is to determine whether or not they will be a good fit for your organization. These five important steps will help ensure that you interview your job candidates as effectively as possible.
Preparing for a job interview might seem like an obvious first step, but the importance of heading into the interview having done the proper prep work cannot be emphasized enough. If you don’t prepare for the interview, it will become much more difficult to make the most out of the time you have.
Remember, it’s not just the candidate that’s interviewing for the position — the candidate is also judging you to determine if your organization will be a good fit for them. If the interview goes poorly because you weren’t prepared, it will leave a bad impression on the candidate. If you decide to extend an offer to them, they may turn it down in favor of an offer elsewhere.
So how exactly should you prepare for an interview? First, make sure you have somewhere to interview the candidate. The interview should be held in a quiet space where you can minimize disruptions. You want to put the candidate at ease and be able to focus solely on the interview. Your office may be perfectly suited for this, but if it’s not, reserve an interview room ahead of time.
Once you’ve set a location for the interview, continue with this prep work as well:
Review The Candidate’s Resume
Your limited amount of time to speak with the candidate during the interview means that you don’t want to waste precious time asking for background information that they already included on their resume.
Take the time to review their skills, work experience, education, and history. Knowing this information heading into the interview will not only help to save time, but it will also show the candidate that you’re taking the interview seriously. It will also be much easier to formulate more specific questions that can help you determine whether or not they’ll be a good fit for the position.
Ask The Right Questions
Once you have reviewed the candidate’s resume, create a list of questions to ask them before heading into the interview. They should be questions that are relevant to the information that they provided and that will help ensure that you achieve the objective of your interview. If you don’t have a list of questions to refer to during the interview, you may forget to ask for certain details that could affect whether they will be a good fit for your company.
The interview isn’t just about gathering information. It’s also about getting a sense of their personality and whether the candidate will fit your culture. Build a rapport throughout the interview will help engage the candidate and help get them to speak more freely. You don’t want the interview to be limited to a series of questions and answers — it should flow like a conversation. Avoid being confrontational as this will put the candidate ill at ease.
Job candidates may be nervous, especially at the beginning of the interview. They are naturally afraid of making a mistake or leaving a poor impression of themselves. Unfortunately, this can hinder your efforts to get to know them. Try to put them at ease by smiling occasionally. Smiling can help make the atmosphere more relaxed and help them feel less like they are taking a test. This will make them feel less nervous so they can answer your questions more honestly and openly.
The beginning of an interview is often the most nerve-wracking for job candidates because it’s the first time that they are meeting you and they don’t know what to expect. To help put them at ease, kick start the interview with a nice introduction. Tell them who you are and maybe start with something unrelated to the job interview. Small talk can help the candidate to engage more easily since the stakes are less high. Something as simple as talking about the weather or about the college that they went to can help create a more relaxed atmosphere.
Once you’ve loosened them up with a little bit of small talk, explain how you’re going to conduct the interview process. The candidate will appreciate being informed about what to expect. It also means that they don’t have to worry about the unexpected and will be able to focus more on the conversation at hand.
Knowing The Candidate
Although the resume should provide you with some basic background information, you’ll need to delve deeper in order to get to know the candidate better. The more you get to know the candidate during the interview, the more effectively you’ll be able to judge whether or not they’ll be a good fit for your organization. Here are a few ways that you can get to know the candidate better.
Talk About Required Competencies And Skills
You should know exactly what competencies and skills are required to do the job that the candidate is applying for. Give them a rundown of what the job requires and then ask them how they think that their particular skill set will allow them to succeed at the position. If you have questions based on the skills and competencies they listed on their resume, then ask those as well. Give them every opportunity to provide more details about their skills and know-how.
Ask Behavioral Questions
Just because a candidate has included a list of skills and competencies on their resume doesn’t mean that they can effectively apply those skills and competencies in the execution of their job. You should ask open-ended behavioral questions that give them a chance to demonstrate how their skills and competencies relate to the requirements of the position they’re applying for.
One of the best ways to allow the candidate to provide real-world examples of how they’ve applied their skills and competencies is through the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) method. Ask the candidate to use the STAR method so that they can provide more focused answers to your open-ended questions on how they will perform their job. The STAR method consists of these points:
- Situation – The candidate explains a real-life situation at a previous job in which they were required to use their skills and competencies to do their job.
- Task – The candidate explains what their responsibilities were in the situation that they provided as an example.
- Action – The candidate explains how they performed the task using their skills and competencies.
- Result – The candidate shares the results of their actions to show how their skills, competencies, and experience allowed them to perform their job effectively.
Examples Of Common Behavioral Questions:
Begin by asking the candidate questions that allow them to use the STAR method to answer. The point of these questions is to give the candidate the opportunity to demonstrate why they are a good fit for the position by relating examples of how their skills and competencies allowed them to perform tasks that are related to the job in question. Be sure that your questions aren’t leading and that they are open-ended. The following are a few examples of the types of behavioral questions you may want to ask:
- Can you relate an instance in which you made the wrong decision and how you were able to rectify that wrong decision?
- Have you ever made a risky decision? If so, why did you make that decision, what was the outcome, and how did you handle the outcome?
- What do you do if you’re given an unrealistic deadline?
- Can you provide an example of how your experience allowed you to solve a particularly difficult challenge?
- Have you picked up any new skills or competencies and how did they benefit your ability to do your previous job?
- How do you set your goals and how do you go about achieving them?
- Can you provide an example of a goal that you reached and how you were able to reach that goal?
- Can you provide an example of a goal that you didn’t reach and why you weren’t able to?
- Have you ever worked on multiple projects simultaneously, and how were you able to handle it?
- Can you provide an example of a project you worked on with a team and how you handled it?
- What do you do if you are in disagreement with a coworker or supervisor about a decision or project?
Hopefully, the questions that you ask lead to an open conversation between you and the candidate that will not only provide insight into their capabilities but also into their personality and work ethic as well as what kind of a cultural fit they will be. Once you reach the end of your questions, try closing the interview in this way:
Summarize The Session
Provide a brief summary of the interview by going over some of the information that they provided and skimming over some of the answers that they gave to your questions. Summarizing is helpful because it allows the candidate to correct any answers that you may have misunderstood or misinterpreted. It also gives you the chance to clarify any vague areas.
After you’ve summarized the interview, ask the candidate if they have any questions for you. Remember, it’s not a one-way interview. Even if you decide to extend an offer, they still have to decide whether or not to take that offer. So they should have some questions for you. In fact, you should be wary of candidates with no questions at all. This often indicates a lack of preparation or a lack of care about getting the job.
Be prepared to answer questions about the position. This may include more specific questions about what tasks they will be responsible for, about the work culture, or about your organization in general.
Provide Prompt Feedback
Once you have answered any questions that the candidate may have had, ask them if they still want to be considered for the position. There’s always a chance that they may have decided against it, whether it’s because they don’t think they’ll be a good fit or because they have an offer from someone else that they’ve decided that they prefer following your interview. It’s pointless to waste your time considering them if they’ve already decided to reject any offer you extend.
If they do want to be considered, let them know that you will be in touch and give them an idea of when you will contact them again.
It can’t be overstated how important listening is to the interview process. Not only is it necessary to listen carefully to obtain the information you need to make an informed decision, but by listening, you can guide the conversation more effectively. Interviewers often make the mistake of just sticking to the script. If you listen to the candidate, you will be able to ask follow-up questions that weren’t planned ahead of time. These follow-up questions can provide you with more helpful information and details about the candidate.
It’s also important to avoid any bias. Interviewers who form bias against the candidate will often stop listening attentively and just go through the motions. Not only is this unfair to the candidate, but you may end up missing out on the chance to hire an employee who might be an exceptional fit.
Effective Interviewing For Best Hiring Decisions
Your end goal should be to hire the best job candidate available. To do so, you need to thoroughly interview qualified applicants so that you can get a sense of whether they have the skills and experience required for the position and whether they will be a good fit for the culture of your organization as well. Arriving at such conclusions requires you to prepare for each interview and avoid the pitfalls of poor interview practices.
A bad interview can not only make it difficult to identify the best applicant, but it can also leave a poor impression on the candidate. You won’t want a highly qualified candidate to reject your offer because the interview didn’t go well.
Shortlisting candidates may be a tedious task for your company right now. Find out how we can assist you in shortlisting the best candidates. Contact us now