Much has been written about the need to give a good interview. If you want the job, you must excel in the interview. Proper body language, doing your homework on the company, asking good questions . . . all great advice. But we don’t often see advice for the interviewer.
I interview countless people as a recruitment consultant, and I’m constantly trying to improve my skills. If you’re looking to add the next star to your team, you want to be certain you’re creating an environment where they can shine. I’ve narrowed it down to five most important factors:
1. Be Professional
You expect the interviewee to be on time, to bring along an extra copy of their resume, to have good questions to ask you. Reciprocate – be on time, remove distractions (monitor off, cell phone put away, phone silenced, door closed). If this is your next star employee, you want them to see the high standards that your company holds, and it starts with you.
2. Be Human
Interviews are stressful; most people don’t get the chance to practice often (and if they do, well, that’s another story). Start with small talk, be graceful. Offer a glass of water and interact on a human level. You may expect this person to work in a fast paced and high stress environment, but remember you’re in the “dating” phase. You will have time during the interview to get to the gritty details. Treat them as you would any guest in your business, because that’s exactly what they are when they are sitting across from you.
3. First Impressions Count, but Keep an Open Mind
Many of the interviewees I meet do not initially “wow” me. They may be trying too hard to present themselves professionally, or get stuck on an answer, or we just don’t click. I will continue to try and find common ground. Then I can develop a rapport, and only then can I get to know who they really are and what they have to offer. Think of everyone in your company – I guarantee you there are people who don’t make a “wow” first impression, but once they warm up, they earn your respect.
4. Be Curious
After some get-to-know-you time, start with an overview of your company and the role. Then jump into learning more about the person you are meeting with. Don’t do all the talking, and don’t ask close-ended questions. Many interviewers have a standard list of questions they want answered. That’s not my style, but if it’s yours, just make sure you allow yourself to wander off the path. If your interviewee is showing great enthusiasm for process improvement, stay on that discussion. Learn more about why it drives them, and when they first discovered the passion. Enjoy a terrific, engaging conversation. Every interviewee has a story behind their resume. It’s that story that will determine if they are a fit to your team.
5. Follow Up
You’ve invested your time in meeting the person; they have invested the same. Explain the next steps in the process. At the very least, let them know when they will hear back from you. And always, always follow up.
If someone has taken the time to come out and meet with you, you owe them closure. Preferably by phone, but if your interview volume is very high, at least via email. Thank them for meeting with you, wish them the best of luck in their search.
THE BOTTOM LINE
I coach interviewees never to burn bridges – as tempting as it may be, you never know when you’ll bump into that interviewer again. If you close on poor terms, you can be sure that it will get around. I don’t care where you live; it’s a small city / industry / pool of candidates out there.
The same holds true for the interviewer. Those who are interviewed without respect or professionalism will tell two friends, who will tell two friends, and so on, and so on… Your brand is at stake. You as an interviewer – your reputation is at stake.
Rather than your brand being associated with comments like “I didn’t even get a ‘no thanks’. I would never work for [insert your company name here]”… wouldn’t you rather hear “I didn’t get the job, but I love the way they treated me – anyone would be lucky to work there!”
We learned it in first grade,
treat others as you would like to be treated.
Pretty simple stuff.