With your list of candidates finalized, you are ready to move on to the interviews. By now, you probably have some stand-out candidates. You may even have a single candidate as an early favorite. The interview, however, remains a crucial step regardless of early preferences.
The interview process is a chance for candidates to show who they are outside of a résumé. It may serve to change your mind or confirm an already favoured choice. Either way, you should make the most out of the facetime you will get with your candidates.
Today, we will look at some tips you can follow to get the most out of your interview.
Avoid schedule overload
You may be tempted to get through as many candidates in as short a time as possible. Remember, however, that you are still human. You will get hungry, tired, and overwhelmed with a constant stream of candidates. You may find that your first interview of the day is the most productive, while late mornings and afternoons, you may be much more sluggish or impatient.
To avoid this trap, space out your interviews and schedule them for times where you are typically more attentive.
Make them comfortable
Give yourself a few minutes to speak casually with the candidates. Make some small talk to ease them into the interview and offer them a glass of water, if possible. If they are nervous, assure them that their feelings are perfectly normal. Establishing a rapport early on can reduce unnecessary friction during the interview and can produce more insightful answers.
Cover core questions
Before interviewing, you should meet with your team and hammer out some essential questions. These questions should cover the essential duties of the position. They should address any concerns raised by your team (e.g. experience with software).
This list of questions should be asked to each candidate. After the interviews have been done, you should be able to do a direct comparison of candidates.
Adapt to the candidate
Having a list of core questions should not limit you. No two candidates are alike, so it is natural to have unique follow up questions for each. You may want to dig deeper into a candidate’s experience or find out more about their long-term career goals.
Feel free to move outside of the traditional question/answer format at times, but make sure you are still covering all your bases in the time you have.
Ask the right general questions
You may want to add some questions that are not job specific. More generalized questions can get your candidate talking about their soft skills and tease out some previously unmentioned abilities. So, what type of questions should you ask?
Offer questions that give your candidate a clear jumping-off point for their answer.
Instead of asking,
“How well do you work in groups?”
“What do you value most in a team dynamic?”
Go for questions that give your candidate a chance to share their perspective, as opposed to those that elicit a “yes” or “no” response.
Encourage their questions
As the interview closes, candidates are often given a chance to ask questions of the interviewer. Often, this is seen as a formality, and both candidate and interviewer lose out on the chance to gain more insight during this closing step.
Instead of simply asking if they have any questions, try one of the following:
- “Is there any part of the job description you would like clarified?”
- “Can you picture a typical day in this position?”
- “What question, if any, would you have liked me to ask you?”
After asking these more provocative questions, follow up with the more open-ended, “do you have any questions for me?”
Set response expectations
Close out your interview by giving the candidate a timeline for your decision, and how they will find out. As with all things in your professional life, clear communication is a pillar of success.
Record your thoughts
After your interview record your thoughts about each candidate. These notes should refresh you when comparing candidates after the interviews. Be sure to include,
- their most appealing qualities
- their biggest areas for improvements
- skills not outlined in their application, and
- any specific concerns you have.
As you go through your interviews, take note of your own areas for improvement. Interviewing skills are relevant to networking, mentoring, and customer relations, so take this opportunity to sharpen your own skillset.