How to interview better to get the hire you want

By Courtney Jones

staffing agency plan

They say a business isn’t any better than its employees, so it’s only fair that organizations aim to hire the best of the best. 

The most talented candidates stay on the market for about 10 days, compelling hiring managers and recruiters to hone their interview skills to attract and engage these on-demand workers. And the interviewer, whether over the phone or in-person, is the first impression of the organization they’re recruiting for. 

Since it takes two to dance the interview tango, here are 7 steps to take towards a successful interview.


1. Be on time 

Don't be tardy! If you can help it, always be on time. The best interviewers are respectful of a candidate's time and always ensure that delayed start times are conveyed via text/email or to someone who can convey the message to them. If you’re unable to let your candidate know that you’ll be late, be sure to apologize and explain your reason why.


2. Be prepared

Prior to the interview, do research on the candidate, the role and the team they’ll be joining.

Study your candidate's resume. You don't need to memorize everything, but you’ll need to have a good idea of what they studied, clients they’ve worked at and a general gist of their responsibilities and quantifiable achievements. Prepared interviewers will keep these notes and the candidate’s resume with them for reference during the interview, allowing for smoother conversation and demonstrating that you’re interested in the meeting. 

Understand the role. Although your candidate should have a good understanding of the role they’re applying for, be prepared to answer any questions of what their daily routine might look like. 

Finally, if you’re an external recruiter not already on the team, meet the team you’re recruiting for and understand the culture. Candidates might want to have an idea of the people they will be working with and the dynamic they’ll be immersed in. 

Pre-interview prep means being prepared to answer any and all questions. Always put yourself in the shoes of the candidate and brainstorm what you think they might ask. On the flip side, don't feel embarrassed if you cannot answer their question (and if you don't know the answer- don't say the wrong thing)! Let them know you will email them once you have found an answer, especially if it's something that could deter them from the job.


3. Set a conversational tone

An impressive interview is a conversation, not an interrogation! Any resume red flags should be investigated during the shortlisting process, so take this time to ask questions, be friendly and communicate in a way that everyone can understand. Don't forget to be light-hearted and relaxed.


4. Uncover career goals and application motivators 

Listen to the needs of your candidate. Why does he or she want to work for your organization? While they might seem like the perfect on paper fit, listen for any motivation red flags during their interview. For example, do they seem more interested in the perks and benefits you offer rather than aligning their experiences and beliefs with the organization’s mission, values and company culture?   

The best interviewers will strive to understand a candidate’s career goals and assess whether they align with those of the organization.  As an interviewer, you must understand whether your company can offer what the candidate needs. Another way to uncover any hiring or logistical red flags is asking questions like, “So how was the commute?” Questions like this will uncover whether the candidate will have issues commuting into work if remote options aren’t available. 

Asking probing questions will help you discover the real reason for their interest and whether or not he or she would be an engaged, loyal worker. 


5. Listen with good body language

It’s important to listen and make eye contact. Every candidate wants to feel understood and engaged during an interview, so appearing attentive with good body language is critical to setting him or her at ease. A comfortable candidate will participate in the conversation more than someone who feels as though they aren’t being listened to, and you want to allow them to sell themselves. 

Additionally, the best interviewers never speak over their candidate. Good and prepared job seekers spend time preparing for what they want to say, and this is their time to shine! So, while they’re connecting their experience to the role, don't forget to write notes for later. 

Some interviewers spend the majority of the meeting talking about the role and the company, but if the candidate has done their research, they should already know this information. Leave the talking to the end when you feel like the candidate might make it to the next step.


6. Avoid the checklist trap

It’s easy to fall into the trap of asking the "yes or no" type of questions and finishing an interview quickly.

The best interviewers ask open ended and probing questions that allow them to get a better read on the candidate. This will also prompt the candidate to speak more and allow you to get a better understanding of the skills and qualifications that positions them as the right fit.


7. Be honest 

Whether a candidate seems like a good fit or not, the best interviewers ensure that they’re being honest with them about what the organization is looking for. If they seem like they might not be the person for the job, honestly laying out expectations will give a better understanding of why you perhaps chose to go with a different candidate. 

Additionally, always provide follow up feedback to your candidate or to the recruiter who submitted them in a timely manner. All candidates require closure if not chosen, and failure to not do so could not only tarnish your business's reputation, but will also give a good candidate a hard time about knowing what went wrong or why he or she may not be the best fit.

High turnover rates due to poor interviewing skills will affect an organization’s brand, reputation and bottom line. Avoid the ramifications of a bad hire by demonstrating these traits in your recruitment process.

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by Courtney Jones

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