Interviewing candidates produces a mixed bag of results. Some interviewees hit it out of the park while others struggle to come up with answers, making it an awkward meeting. But you know what’s more uncomfortable? When the interviewer doesn’t know what to say or do.
Knowing how to conduct an interview is a key part of being a recruiter. And whether you’re just starting out or think you have your strategy nailed down, there’s always room to learn.
Are you wondering, How do I conduct an interview that gets results and leads to the best placement? If you are, you’ve come to the perfect place. Find out how to conduct an interview below.
How to conduct an interview
You know the basics of conducting an interview. But if you want to find the candidate who will add the most value to your client’s company, you need to know how to be a good interviewer.
Here are some tips to help you learn how to conduct an effective interview.
1. Prepare beforehand
Conducting an interview begins with preparing for it. You can’t walk into the room and decide you’re going to wing it.
Plan out the order of interview events by creating an interview structure. This will give you a roadmap so your interview runs smoothly. Failing to structure the interview ahead of time results in disorientation, uncomfortable silences, and rambling.
Without proper preparation beforehand, you won’t really get to know candidates. And, you won’t be able to compare candidate interviews because each interview will be unstructured and all over the place.
When preparing, you should also establish a rating system to encourage consistency. Base your rating system on the skills, education, and experience that your client is looking for. Use the job description as a guideline.
For example, your client needs a candidate with five years of related experience. They would prefer candidates who have seven years. You might base ratings on a scale of “1-4,” with “4” being seven or more years, “3” being five-seven years, “2” being three-four, and “1” being under three years of experience.
You can also rate a candidate’s answers to questions, when they arrived to the interview, preparation, eye contact, attire, and grammar.
Create an interview scorecard that lists each of the things you’re rating. Rate each candidate during the interview, and compare cards after.
2. Set a calm environment
Although you also need to find out how well candidates can handle stressful situations, your priority should be making sure they are comfortable during the interview. Have a conversation, not an interrogation, with the candidates.
Be welcoming when you meet a candidate. Shake their hand, make small talk, and guide them to the interview space. You might ask if they want any water, coffee, or tea. And, you can point out the restrooms.
Set up the interview in a private area so the candidate is at ease. Avoid interviewing in a public space to prevent distractions and discomfort.
If your client is present in the interview, make sure to introduce them. If managers, supervisors, or other employees sit in on the interview, make sure everyone is properly introduced.
3. Get to know the candidate
After introducing yourself, your client, and any applicable staff, get to know the candidate. You can start by asking basic questions about their current position and where they went to school.
Then, you should delve deeper by referencing information on the candidate’s resume. Verify that their resume is factual by asking them about their previous positions. This can help you weed out candidates who are lying on resumes.
Find out why the candidate wants the job. Are they running away from something at their current job? Were they fired? Do they want this job for the salary, or are they interested in the position itself?
During this step, you can also learn about the candidate’s hobbies and interests. Finding out this information can help you determine if they would make a good cultural fit at your client’s company.
4. Talk about your client’s company
A big focal point of the interview should be on your client’s company. Again, you want to make sure the candidate would be a good fit and understands the mission of the company. Further, you need to sell the company to encourage job acceptance.
Provide a brief overview of what the company does, including its target audience and what goods or services it provides. Then, talk about the position. How does the position fit into the overall scope of the company?
Give a rundown of the position responsibilities. Discuss the day-to-day activities the candidate would be performing. Ask the candidate if they have any questions about the role.
Talk about the kind of candidate the company is looking for. Go deeper than the basic qualifications and talk about traits, like work ethic.
Don’t forget to stress your client’s employee value proposition (EVP). An EVP includes the benefits employees receive from working at a company, which helps to attract and retain talent. What do employees get out of working at this particular business?
Selling your client’s company to candidates will get them excited about the position. And, it could prevent problems down the road, like candidates rejecting job offers.
5. Ask questions
Now’s the time in the interview where you can really get to know the candidate in front of you. You need to ask them job-related questions that can help you and your client determine how they will perform.
Ask behavioral interview questions to learn more about the candidate’s personality and character. For example, “What steps do you take before making a decision?”
Asking “tell me about a time when” questions helps you find out how candidates acted in past situations. For example, “Tell me about a time when you had a disagreement with a coworker.”
And, you might ask some hypothetical questions to see how the candidate would act on the job. For example, “What would you do if a customer was making a scene?”
To come up with questions, ask your client about problems they have experienced in their business. And, ask questions specific to your client’s industry.
6. Take notes
During the interview, take notes so you can refer back to them later. Don’t spend the entire time writing notes, or the candidate might get uncomfortable. And, the conversation could become too rigid. Take notes here and there to remember the important bits of information.
Use the interview scorecard you created before the interview to give ratings to candidate responses.
After the interview, you can store your notes in your recruiting software. That way, you can easily access organized notes and compare candidate information.