Enter “interviewing techniques” into any search engine and you can find a myriad of tips for handling an interview – if you are a job candidate. It is not nearly as easy for prospective employers to find tips on how best to conduct an interview.
Check out these helpful hints that are designed to help inexperienced interviewers prepare for and conduct effective job interviews, and ultimately identify the best job candidates.
Before the interview:
- Develop a job description – First and foremost, an employer needs to prepare for the job hiring process, and perhaps most important in this process is developing a job description. A thorough job description defines a position’s responsibilities and outlines the skills required to succeed in the position. By carefully considering the job you are attempting to fill, you will be better equipped to evaluate how a candidate’s traits and experience meet the needs of the position.
- Create a list of questions – Once you have defined the open position, generate a list of questions to help you evaluate how well a job candidate can fill the position. Experts believe that behavioral questions are most effective in accurately determining a job candidate’s experience and temperament. Behavioral questions require a candidate to describe how they would handle a hypothetical situation or describe a real-life work experience. Examples include: “What would you do if you were confronted by an unhappy customer?”, or “Describe a time when you had to handle a displeased customer.”
During the interview:
- Ignore first impressions – Your instincts will undoubtedly come into play when deciding which candidate to hire. However, strong first impressions of a candidate, either positive or negative, can keep you from conducting an effective interview. Try to ignore your first impressions. As you learn more, those initial impressions may dissipate or change completely.
- Pose the same questions – At times the interviewing process can seem to take on a life of its own, but at the end of the day, you need to select, from among multiple job candidates, who will best fill the open position and fit into the framework of your company. Interview conversation may be more freeform when discussing a candidate’s individual background, but to have the information necessary to compare candidates, it is helpful to pose the same behavioral questions to each candidate.
- Take notes effectively – Whether you were the type of student who took diligent notes trying to capture every word uttered by your instructor or one that took no notes at all, try to strike a balance between the two methods when conducting an interview. Having notes of the interview will help when it comes time to make a decision and can also be beneficial if your decision is challenged in anyway. However, taking copious notes can make the job candidate feel uncomfortable and keep you from having a natural and significant exchange. Instead, jot notes that will help you remember important information about the candidate, then fill in details after the interview.
- Steer clear of taboo topics – To prevent potential discrimination, certain state and federal laws dictate what employers can and cannot ask job candidates. Avoid asking candidates questions about their age, marital status, ethnic origin or whether they have children.
- Wait to share – At some point during the interview, you should share with the job candidate details about your business and the open position. Experts suggest, however, that you hold off providing that information until after the candidate has addressed your questions. If provided the information at the outset of the interview, a candidate might use what he or she learns to structure appropriate responses.
It has been said that employees are a business’ greatest asset. If that is true, and we believe it is, identifying which employees to hire through interviewing is a due diligence process that deserves an employer’s time and attention. Your investment in the process will reward your business in the end.
This article is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice. Readers should contact legal counsel for legal advice.