Interviewing may sound easy, but it is very difficult for most of us to get the information we need in an interview. Here are some tips to help you conduct successful interviews that lead to the best hiring decisions.
- Use a structured interview, in which you ask the same pre-planned questions of each candidate. When candidates are asked the same questions, you are giving them the same opportunity for response and you can more fairly compare their answers. Structured interviews are much more likely to ensure fair and equitable interviews.
- Review the job description and identify key knowledge, skills, abilities, behaviors, and competencies are necessary for success in the job.
- Develop open-ended questions that reveal whether the candidates possess the desired competencies.
- Don't ask questions that require a "yes" or "no" answer (except if necessary to verifying facts on the application.); leading questions, where the answer you're seeking is obvious; or illegal questions.
- Do ask questions that require at least a sentence or two of response; job-related questions; behavioral-based questions in which you ask candidates how they handled situations in the past.
- Look for three items in responses: a description of the situation or task, the action taken, and the result.
- Prepare a written list of questions, leaving room for notes by each. Use and follow this guide during the interview.
Before the Interview
- Review candidate's resume and application. Note items that need clarification. Do not write directly on the resume or application. Using post-it notes is acceptable.
- Be familiar with the candidate's prior experience and education. Questions can be somewhat personalized with that information (e.g.: When you worked at Ford Motor Company, what was the most challenging project you worked on and what was the end result? In your work as an administrative assistant, what computer platform and software did you use?)
During the Interview
- Create an atmosphere that allows the candidate to speak freely. Remember that your primary goal is to gather information.
- Try to put the candidate at ease. Comfortable candidates are more likely to share information with you. Try to not intimidate the candidate.
- Tell the candidate the purpose of the interview and that the interview plan is to: review their jobs/experiences; ask questions about jobs/experiences; share information about the job; answer candidate's questions about the job.
- Explain that both parties will gain information needed to make the best hiring decision.
- Tell the candidate you'll be taking notes.
- Watch the candidate's body language and facial expressions, which can be as revealing as answers.
- Maintain direct eye contact when the candidate is speaking, to the extent possible while taking brief notes.
Close the Interview
- Glance through your notes and ask any additional questions.
- Ask if the candidate has any questions.
- A good final question is "What last impression would you like to leave with me, or what do we need to know about you that we did not discuss?"
- Explain the next steps in the interview process (when they will hear from you, if second interviews will be conducted, when you plan to make a decision, etc.).
- Thank the candidate.
After the Interview
- Go back over your notes and make any additional notes while the interview is fresh in your mind. Do this before going on to the next interview.
- Guard against judging candidates based on physical appearance; judging the candidate because they are nervous; making a decision about the candidate in the first few minutes and then using the rest of the interview to substantiate that decision; hiring people just because you like them, not because of their answers/qualifications; trying to impress the candidate; talking too much about the job; don't allow your overall decision be swayed by one or two impressive answers; making any implied promise of employment.
- Do: keep an open mind throughout the interview; save some of the most important questions for the end of the interview, when the candidate is most comfortable; listen carefully; consider the total interview, not the answers to select questions; ask the same questions to all candidates; take notes.