When it comes to job interviews, it seems like most of the pressure to perform well is put on the candidate. But it is equally important for the employer to excel at conducting interviews. For starters, a poor interview experience may be a turn-off for the top talent you’re looking to bring on board. Even worse, it can lead to making a bad hire, which is a costly waste of resources.
Bottom line: a successful interview process is crucial to successfully hiring employees and limiting turnover, both of which have a huge impact on the overall health of your organization. Keep reading for a roadmap to a good interview.
Standardize the Process
With the give-and-take nature of a job interview, there will be variations in each one that you conduct. Still, you should have a standardized process that you use with each candidate. Having a process adds structure to the interview and makes it easier to evaluate multiple candidates in an apples-to-apples way. Ultimately, it can help you make a better hiring decision. A study by the Brandon Hall Group found that organizations without a standardized interviewing process were five times more likely to make a bad hire.
A solution to that problem, according to the study, is developing a consistent interview strategy that is used during every step of the hiring process – from the initial phone screen to the final interview. Part of that strategy, it continues, should be a checklist of identical or very similar questions to ask candidates “in order to compare answers and evaluate who is the best fit.”
Do the Prep Work
You expect that a candidate will arrive at the interview ready to talk about their professional experience and how it applies to the position you’re looking to fill. Likewise, you’ll expect that they did a little research into the organization. As the interviewer, you should do similar preparation.
Take some time to thoroughly review the candidate’s resume so you’re able to ask informed questions about their background and how they might be a fit for the job. Also, be prepared to talk about the organization itself – the culture, values, how people work, etc. A job interview is a two-way street. While you’re trying to determine whether a particular candidate is the right person for the job, candidates are deciding whether your organization is right for them.
Some employers choose to work with recruiters, who identify candidates, screen them and assess their skills before presenting them for a formal job interview. In these cases, the recruiter is able to provide you with valuable insight into why a candidate is looking for new opportunities and what other opportunities they may be considering. This extra information can help you best position your organization during an interview to land a candidate that you really want.
Know What You’re Looking For
Every role in an organization exists to fill a need or solve a problem. When interviewing candidates, you need to have a strong understanding of the need the particular position will fill. If you’re not clear about the purpose of the role, you won’t be able to accurately evaluate whether a candidate is a fit. Also, you won’t be able to provide candidates with the information they need to determine whether they think they can succeed in the role.
As part of the aforementioned prep work, spend some time figuring out what factors are most important for success in the role and make a ranked list of the most important skills, experience, education and other characteristics a successful candidate would have. This creates objective criteria that can be used to compare and evaluate multiple candidates.
Craft Good Questions
While basic questions about a candidate’s background can be useful for establishing a baseline for potential fit, they fall short when it comes to learning more about how the candidate approaches tasks, solves problems and works with others.
“Interviewers must know how to elicit desired information from job candidates. It doesn't require a sophisticated technique, but it does require more than just asking candidates if they possess the required skills and attributes,” according to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).
That’s where behavioral and situational questions come in. These are questions that seek to get an idea about how a candidate has dealt with different workplace situations in the past. You can also use “what if” questions in which you present scenarios and ask the candidate to describe how they would handle them. The behavioral and situational questions you ask should be built around the success factors that you have identified for the role.
“Responses to such questions can provide enhanced glimpses into applicants' actual experiences,” per SHRM.
On the topic of interview questions, there are several that you should avoid because they may be illegal. Questions about race, religion, age, marital status and so on could open you up to liability.
Make It Comfortable
Job interviews can be nerve-wracking for candidates. A good way to ease some of that anxiety and set the stage for a productive interview is to take away as many of the unknowns as possible. When scheduling an interview, tell the candidate who they will be speaking with and let them know if there is anything specific that they should be prepared to discuss. At the start of the interview try to establish a personal connection with some small talk, and then lay out what the interview process will be so the candidate knows what to expect. Throughout the interview, maintain a friendly, professional tone.