There are a number of reasons why you, as a hiring manager or HR manager, should strive to possess the characteristics, traits, or qualities of a good interviewer.
First, when you’re a good interviewer, it brands your organization in a positive way. And employer branding is a huge consideration these days in the employment marketplace, especially for top candidates. Second, it increases your chances for hiring success, and when you get right down to it, more hiring success is the ultimate goal of any interviewing process.
There are two separate but equally important aspects of being an effective interviewer:
- The qualities of a good interviewer
- Actions that will help bring about the completion of a successful interview
Conducting a great interview is about a lot more than just asking questions to job candidates and then answering any questions they might have. How you approach the interview is critical. How you conduct (or execute) the interview is also important. And how you follow up after the interview is a crucial factor, as well, although that’s a topic for another blog post.
Characteristics of a good interviewer
There are certain traits or characteristics of a good interviewer. These people are either born with these qualities, they can acquire these qualities, or both. When you possess these qualifies, you stand a better chance of being a better interviewer and experiencing more hiring success.
Below are 10 top qualities of a good interviewer:
If you’re interviewing job seekers, then you’re representing the organization. As result, you want to come across as engaging and warm, not stiff and aloof. How the candidates perceive you might influence how they perceive the organization as a whole, and you want that perception to be as positive as possible.
After all, you want job seekers and candidates to feel comfortable and at ease. If they are, then they’re more likely to be relaxed and have a good interview. Strive to make the interview as conversational as you can. An engaging personality is one of the top qualities of a good interviewer.
How can you brand yourself and your organization in the best way possible if you don’t know how you’re coming across to job seekers and candidates? You can’t, that’s how. In essence, branding is the experience that you provide to other people. This applies to both personal branding and employer branding, and in an interview situation, you’re involved with both. You’re branding yourself as a person and your employer as an organization.
Being self-aware also includes being aware of any biases you may have. The interview process is definitely the time to put any and all biases aside, whatever they might be. Instead, focus intently on the bottom line, which is hiring the very best job candidate for the position.
#3—Ability to listen well
You know the old saying: “You have two ears and one mouth because you’re supposed to listen twice as much as you talk.” While that might sound quaint, there is actually plenty of truth in that saying. This is especially the case if you’re conducting an interview.
While the candidate is attempting to “sell” themselves to you and the organization, you should be attempting to do the same thing. If you constantly interrupt the candidate while they’re talking or are otherwise brusque with them, that might turn them off and convince them that perhaps your organization is NOT the next logical step in the growth of their career.
Not only that, but when you listen more than you speak, you also learn more about the job candidate. Specifically, you learn more about whether or not they would be a good fit for the company. Which, of course, is the point of the interview in the first place.
This characteristic entails a couple of different areas. The first one is your memory. How well are you able to remember and recall details? This includes details regarding the job description, the candidate’s resume, and even things that have happened earlier in the interview.
The second area involves the notes that you take during the interview. Write down everything that you believe is important. Don’t think to yourself, “I don’t have to write that down. I’ll remember it.” No, you probably won’t. When it comes to hiring the best job candidate for the position, every detail matters, and that’s why you should take great pains to record those details for future reference and reflection.
#5—Ability to read body language
During an interview, a job candidate is not just communicating with their words, but they’re also communicating with their body language. The way that they’re sitting, the way their head is tilted, and their mannerisms can all tell you something that their words are not. Being able to decipher these “hidden messages” is one of the important qualities of a good interviewer. Ultimately, this helps you to correctly identify your top candidate for the position.
And let’s not forget your body language. Just as you want to make sure that the job candidate is not sending negative messages with the way they hold and conduct themselves, you should also be cognizant of the non-verbal message that you’re sending, as well.
#6—Agile thinking skills
What does this mean? In short, it means being able to “think on your feet.” After all, no interview happens exactly the way you think it’s going to happen. In addition, if you’re dealing with a top candidate (and you certainly hope that you are), then that candidate may ask questions that you’re not expecting. And just like it’s not a good look for a job candidate to answer a question with “I don’t know,” it’s also not a good look for you to do the same thing.
And although you might have a set of questions prepared beforehand, you may think of additional questions as the interview progresses. Once again, this is especially the case with top candidates, whose answers to your initial questions might prompt you to investigate their possible candidacy to a deeper degree. Regardless, you don’t want to be caught “flat-footed” in this area. (Or “flat-brained,” for that matter.)
While this quality is sometimes misunderstood, for our purposes it means two things. First, the ability to control or regulate your own emotions. And second, the ability to identify the emotions of job candidates for the purpose of being empathetic to their current situation, specifically what they’re seeking in a new employment opportunity.
Emotional intelligence is one of the qualities of a good interviewer for a couple of reasons. First, you can connect more easily with the candidate, meaning that you engage with them more effectively and increase the chances that they’ll want to work for your company. Second, you’ll be better able to uncover the candidate’s true motivations, and once you do that, you’ll be better able to “sell” to those motivations in your efforts to hire them.
Where does the art of persuasion enter the picture? From the very beginning of the interview, all the way to the very end! In fact, a hiring manager or HR manager should be persuasive all throughout the hiring process. That’s because they’re “selling.” What are they “selling”? Two main things: the job opportunity itself and the organization overall.
Just because we’re in the midst of a pandemic does not mean that employers hold all the leverage in a hiring situation. They do not. This is especially the case when it comes to top candidates, who typically have multiple options if they choose to explore other employment opportunities. Keep in mind that other hiring managers and HR managers are trying to “sell” themselves to top candidates, too. So strive to be better than they are!
#9—Superior evaluation/assessment skills
This is one of the cornerstone traits of a good interviewer. After all, that’s the whole purpose of an interview—to evaluate and assess a job candidate. If you aren’t a good evaluator, then you probably should not be interviewing candidates in the first place. However, as we mentioned earlier, you can learn the traits and characteristics of a successful evaluator if you believe that you’re lacking in this area, and this will in turn help you obtain one of the key qualities of a good interviewer.
#10—Excellent communication skills
We saved the best for last, because this is perhaps one of the most important qualities of a good interviewer. After all, communication is the basically the backbone of every human relationship, both personal and professional. So it makes sense to strike the correct tone right from the start and communicate consistently and effectively with job candidates during the hiring process before they become an employee. (As a bonus, this is another great way to brand yourself and the organization in a positive way.)
The two things that a job candidate wants to know the most during the hiring process is where they stand in that process and what the next steps are. So good communication does not end when the interview is over. In more ways than one, the communication has just begun.
So—how many of the top qualities and characteristics of a good interviewer do YOU have?