How to Conduct Better Hiring Interviews
It’s an unavoidable reality that not every manager is an inherently great interviewer. But every manager will likely have to conduct at least one hiring interview during his or her career. Just like with any other skill, the more interviews you conduct, the better and more confident you’ll become. After all, practice makes perfect! If you’re looking to improve your interviewing process, try incorporating these tips into your interviewing routine:
Do your homework
A great interviewer spends a solid amount of time preparing for each hiring interview well before they meet a candidate. If you’re interviewing someone for a position not in your department, make sure you fully understand the needs and requirements of the position and it’s role within the organization – don’t just rely on a cold reading of the prepared job description. Ask the person who this position will be reporting to what qualities a candidate should possess in order to be successful, and plan to ask questions that will reveal whether the person you’re interviewing has those qualities or skills.
A great interviewer also does their “homework” before meeting with any candidate. Don’t just skim resumes or print them off right before an interview – carefully read and review resumes and cover letters, taking notes as you go. This will allow you to identify areas of interest or concern that you want or need to bring up in interviews, like a special project or a large gap in work history.
Ask the right questions
The whole point of a hiring interview is to allow employers to get to know candidates in a more candid and engaging manner by asking questions and probing into their work history. But a great interviewer doesn’t just dive right into a rapid-fire game of “20 questions.”
Instead, try beginning each interview in a manner that puts the candidate at ease. Spend some time telling the interviewee about the company and the position, as well as a little bit about yourself and your role within the organization. A good rule of thumb to keep in mind during interviews is the 80/20 rule – the interviewer should only do about 20 percent of the talking, while the interviewee should do 80 percent of the talking as he or she responds to the questions.
Once you’re ready to get into the meat of your interviews, the question portion, it's important to remember that certain questions can be considered discriminatory. If asked during a hiring interview, these questions could lead to lawsuits if a candidate believes he or she was not hired as a result of a presumed “wrong” response. Below are some questions interviewers should never ask:
- How old are you?
- What is your nationality/race/religion?
- Are you married/single/dating?
- Do you own your own home?
- Do you have children?
- Are you pregnant?
- What is your sexual preference?
- What are your political affiliations?
- Do you have a disability?
- What is your weight?
- Have you ever filed a workers’ compensation claim?
- Have you ever undergone a psychiatric evaluation?
- Have your wages ever been garnished?
- Have you ever declared bankruptcy?
- Have you ever been a member of a union?
- What type of discharge did you receive from the military?
All lumped together like that, it’s easy to see how each of those questions could be discriminatory in nature. In the course of an interview, however, it is not uncommon for a casual mention of children or personal interests to come up. That's why interviewers should be careful not to probe into these areas of a candidate’s life, even if the candidate is the one to bring it up.
To avoid heading into potentially murky territory during your interviews, ask open-ended questions that focus your discussion on work experience and qualifications. Here are some questions you can and should interviewees:
- What kind of experience do you have?
- Of all your work experience, where have you been most successful?
- What are the primary responsibilities of your current job?
- What aspects of your current job do you consider most crucial?
- Describe how your job relates to the overall goals of your department and company.
- What would you change about your current job?
- What aspects of your previous job did you like least? What do you like best?
- What are you looking for in your next job?
Listen to what the candidate is saying
Too often interviewers don’t fully focus on the candidate in front of them. It’s all too easy to let thoughts of your next meeting, an email waiting for you in your inbox, or even what you’re doing for dinner creep into your head during an interview. But great interviewers don’t let themselves fall into this trap. They give the candidate their undivided attention during each interview, and try to truly engage and connect with each candidate in order to go beyond the surface of their resume and assess whether the candidate would truly be a good fit for their organization.
Becoming a great interviewer won’t happen overnight. The skills outlined above take time to hone and develop, but by making a conscious effort to prepare for interviews, ask the right questions and listen attentively to what candidates are saying, not only will you build confidence in your own interviewing abilities, but you’ll also find that the quality of your hires improve dramatically.
G&A Partners, one of the nation’s leading professional employer organizations (PEO) for more than 20 years, offers a recruitment process outsourcing solution that delivers high-quality job candidates and measurable results while reducing hiring costs and ensuring that your organization remains in full compliance with federal, state and local regulations at every stage of the hiring process.
Learn how G&A Partners can help you improve your recruitment process by calling 866-634-6713 to speak with a recruiting expert or schedule a business consultation.