NEWS + ADVICE
How to Create An Effective Interview
There are two different narratives to any interview. While an interviewer and interviewee both have something at stake, candidates are typically more nervous, out of their element, and likely to seek out tips and tricks to boost their interview game. If you sit on the other side of the table as a recruiter or hiring manager however, interviews may be your bread and butter. They’re not a once-every-few-years occurrence, tolerated to get a job—they’re routine. But just because something is done often, doesn’t mean it can’t be improved or undergo some checks and balances.
Interviews are not free of challenges, for either party involved. For instance, you might feel pressure to fill a role quickly, all while finding the perfect candidate at the right price point. However, if you make an oversight, a bad hire can cost as much as 30% of the employee’s yearly salary1, impact other employees in the workplace, and affect your employer brand. So take some time to review your organization’s interview practices to reflect, refresh, and reset for success.
Roles and Responsibilities
I like to think of interviewers and interviewees as hosts and guests. A guest (interviewee) might bring an entrée or gift to an event to make a good impression, but the host (interviewer) is responsible for setting the whole scene. They send out the invites, prepare the venue, choose the activities, and hope their guests will have a good time.
Similarly, an interviewee may prepare interview responses, do some research on the role or company, and arrive on time, dressed to impress. While the interviewer must set the time and location, coordinate with other employees, craft the interview questions, and set the scene to not only create a positive candidate experience but also obtain the necessary information to make an informed hiring decision.
Thus, the responsibilities of an interviewer are twofold. You’re trying to find the perfect hire, but you’re also working to form an impression that will incline the candidate to accept your offer if you extend one. This is especially important, as 83% of candidates polled in a survey felt a poorly conducted interview can change their opinion of a role2. Whereas, 87% of candidates said a positive interview experience could sway their opinion towards accepting a job2.
Though you may be able to host interviews on autopilot from past experiences, remember every interview is unique to the specific role and requirements of the position. And planning accordingly to ensure a positive two-way interaction is key.
Planning and Preparation
As you examine a job description in preparation for interviews, decide what steps will be necessary to identify the right hire. Will you begin with an initial phone screening or video interview, followed by in person interviews, and a test or presentation? How many people will interview the candidate? How will you get feedback from each interviewer? These are decisions that can be made upfront, before you have candidates to consider. By mapping out each step of the interview journey and defining a structure ahead of time, everyone involved in the process will know what to expect.
Once you have an interview scheduled, be sure to further prepare your team at least a day or two before meeting with the candidate. Everyone who will interview the potential hire should review the job description, the candidate’s resume, and the questions they plan to ask. Your goal is to make sure everyone is on the same page.
Be sure all interviewers have the following information:
- Job description
- The candidate’s resume
- Basic company information (mission statement, year founded, number of employees, etc.)
- Department or team information
- Reporting structure
- Possible career growth opportunities
- Start date
- Next steps in the interview process
If you’re using a conference room or a shared space, make sure the room is available and that everyone knows when and where to meet. You might also consider getting out of the office. Going for lunch or coffee can create a more open and relaxed environment, giving you an opportunity to see how a candidate interacts in another setting.
It’s also wise to check for any recent online reviews that may have been posted about your company. Many candidates check with their network and research prospective employers online to assess if it’s the right fit. If you see a negative review on sites such as Glassdoor, give your team a heads up so they can respond accordingly if it’s brought up in an interview.
When it comes to preparing interview questions, there are many different types to consider. However, there are also quite a few questions you must legally steer clear of to avoid discrimination and potential lawsuits. Off limit questions include asking about age, race, gender, sexual orientation, disabilities, marital or pregnancy status, and more. If you’ve been in the recruiting game a while, you likely have a good grasp on what you can and cannot say. But direct supervisors and other team members you plan to include in the process may not conduct interviews on a regular basis. So consider sharing a list of questions interviewers cannot ask, to make sure everyone on your team is up to speed.
As you select questions to ask in an interview, think of how you can get a clear idea of a candidate’s abilities within a short period of time. You might use a combination of technical, behavioral, hypothetical, cultural, or creative questions to make your assessment. Questions that emphasize culture can be particularly helpful in your interviews, as culture fit can increase the chances of a successful employer/employee relationship, and many job seekers also seek out companies based on culture.
Think about using questions like these during interviews to determine a good cultural fit:
- What is it that you value the most in the workplace?
- How do you feel about working on a team?
- Do you have a preference for working individually?
- What do you consider model qualities in your supervisor?
- How do you feel about socializing with colleagues?
Asking the right questions is a large piece of the puzzle, but it’s also vital that you have a method for tracking assessments and debriefing decision makers. Hiring decisions are not always a solo activity, so be sure your team has a scorecard or standardized method to give feedback, especially when interviewing multiple candidates.
Communicating with Candidates
A crucial part of communication is listening and responding. Keep this in mind when you encounter red flags in your interviews. If a candidate says something questionable or doesn’t seem to keep their story straight, address your concern. Ask follow-up questions and give them an opportunity to respond. It may have been a simple mix-up or misunderstanding, but you won’t unpack the issue unless you dig a little deeper. Communication is core to relationship building and any successful hiring process.
Throughout the interview process, you must also communicate with candidates to set expectations and keep them engaged. Some of the things you should always communicate to a prospective hire include a general timeline for the hiring process, the names of individuals they’ll interview with, and when they should expect to hear back from you after each step.
If you’ve determined candidates need to meet with multiple team members, be proactive and let the candidate know ahead of time. In a job search survey conducted by CyberSecJobs.com, 66% of respondents said employers could make it easier to recruit professionals by making the recruiting process more transparent3. So clearly communicate your process in your conversations with candidates, and on your company website whenever possible.
If you keep the lines of communication open, come to the table prepared, ask meaningful questions and thoughtfully assess candidates, you stand to make the most of your interviews and produce the best hiring outcome.