Most job seekers on the market ensure that they are well-prepared for job interviews and the same ought to be true of those conducting the interviews. Many managers are expected to lead the hiring process, so knowing the basics of interviewing best practices is useful. By keeping such essentials in mind, even inexperienced managers can command an interview with professionalism and efficiency.
Keep it simple
A job interview has a definite scope of purpose: it asks whether or not a candidate has the job skills necessary to perform the duties of the role; it assesses other pertinent skills, plus cultural fit for the organization; and it is a public relations opportunity. If the job has been appropriately advertised, sourced and pre-screened, all interviewees should possess the essential skills that you are hiring for. And while you will safeguard such assumptions by asking technical questions that verify the candidates’ expertise, interviews often lose focus when the topics shift away from essential skills.
Assessing other pertinent skills
This includes soft-skills. And, as you have probably experienced yourself, behavioural questions are the standard for discerning which of your candidates is the right ‘fit.’ However, it is not enough to simply ask generic behavioural questions. Almost every interviewee will be practiced in describing a stressful situation and how they overcame it. Or when they won over an unhappy customer. Or how they handled being caught in conflict. Sure, these questions are be exactly the ones you need to ask if they are relevant. But if you rely on stock questions, you will get stock answers in return.
Instead, try to structure your behavioural questions around the competencies you are hiring for. Are you hiring a leader who will be charged with implementing new processes? Then, for example, ask candidates to describe a time in which they convinced their coworkers to embrace changes to their duties or responsibilities. Or maybe you are looking to counteract high turnover in a role that is fast-paced and has competing priorities. Here, you might investigate a candidate’s initiative by asking them how they came up with a solution that required out-of-the-box thinking to complete an urgent task.
While behavioural questions encourage anecdotal responses that are conversational and digressive in tone, you, the interviewer, should avoid the temptation to mirror this. Do not be too chummy, or too keen to share your own stories. Ideally, the vast majority of an interview should be job-related and candidate-focused.
Interviews are a public relations opportunity
The 21st-century has seen a shift in the balance of power away from the employer. Many candidates do not perceive the hiring process as older generations did. This means that job interviews should reflect the signs of the times. At the very least, employers should remember that the internet allows anyone with a smartphone to post comments on job boards and social media sites that might hurt a firm’s public image. Sure, one comment is unlikely to damage a company’s reputation but if enough interviews lack cohesion and professionalism, you may hear about it online.
Try typing “worst interview questions” or “worst interview experiences” into a search engine and remind yourself that you may control the interview as it happens but you can only influence how the interview is reported afterwards. If you are professional, courteous, focused and well-prepared, even the candidates you do not hire will be inclined to comment on you favourably.
Practice makes perfect
We conduct thousands of interviews a year. Every single one offers up something different because every candidate is a unique person. Still, by conducting our interviews with tried-and-tested methods that speak to our professionalism, we are proud to boast a network of candidates who value our services. Why not encourage this approach in your own interviews?