As you progress in your career, you may assume the role of interviewer, representing your employer or your own business. When well-developed, interviewing skills can help you identify the exceptional candidates who can deliver results for your organisation. If you're preparing to meet with potential hires, you might benefit from reviewing the best practices for interviewers to use. In this article, we review why companies benefit from good interviewers and explore various techniques and tips to help you become a better one.
Why are good interviewers important?
Good interviewers are important because they have the skills necessary to evaluate job candidates accurately and guide their teams' hiring processes. When presented with several applicants interested in an opening, companies require a team member with excellent communication and interpersonal skills to collect the most vital information about them. Beyond meeting with people, interviewers know how to analyse resumes and compare candidates' skill sets with their organisation's most urgent needs. They also develop the trust of other colleagues involved in hiring and contribute opinions that directly influence who ultimately receives a job offer.
When companies find the ideal candidate, they benefit tremendously. Depending on the role they're filling, a new employee can transform a company's earning potential by helping them innovate new products, provide better customer experiences or operate more efficiently. Good interviewers ensure their organisations don't miss an opportunity to enhance their team's capabilities with a great hire.
What are the top 5 tips for interviewers?
Here are tips for interviewers that you can use in your hiring process:
1. Choosing the right setting
The physical environment an interview takes place in can have a significant effect on how well it goes. Selecting a setting conducive to a comfortable discussion can ensure you learn all you can about a candidate to make an informed recommendation. Here are a few factors that define good interview settings:
- Minimal visual or auditory distractions
- Good, preferably natural, light
- Mild temperature
- Comfortable seating
2. Preparing questions in advance
Preparing questions in advance ensures you remember all the key topics to discuss with a candidate. Especially if interviewing candidates for different positions, you benefit from organising your discussions in an orderly fashion. You also might consult other members of your company to learn if there's anything they'd like you to ask applicants during your discussions with them.
3. Studying the candidate's resume
You usually have access to a candidate's resume ahead of your interview. Studying it in advance familiarises you with their work history and can help you plan questions that are important to ask but difficult to come up with in the middle of your conversation. You also might conduct research on firms the candidate has worked for to understand if their experience has prepared them to succeed in your company.
4. Building rapport
Building rapport requires connecting with your interviewee so that they feel comfortable speaking with you. Although you may have limited time for your discussion, you can still make a favourable first impression by being hospitable and friendly. Consider showing the interviewee around the office and making some casual conversation. You can also extend them courtesies by offering them a beverage and making sure their travel to the office went smoothly.
5. Documenting your conversations
Documenting your conversations helps you accurately remember their contents, even when meeting with many candidates over a prolonged period. You might take notes during an interview or after. Either works, but some candidates may feel less comfortable speaking if you're looking down and writing instead of engaging with them directly. Having a document of your interviews can also help you provide colleagues with materials to inform their hiring decisions.
What is the primary challenge of interviews?
The primary challenge of interviews is collecting the correct information consistently. Interviewers who lack experience may not ask the most useful questions or may not fully grasp the skills their company needs to find. Talented interviewers may know the right questions to ask and understand their organisations, but conducting thorough interviews consistently is also difficult. Often, after interviewing many candidates in a short timeframe, an interviewer might omit certain questions, overlook important considerations or struggle to appreciate what an interviewee shares. However, by adopting interview best practices, you can reduce these risks.
What are the qualities of a good interviewer?
Talented interviewers often share a few key qualities, such as:
Good interviewers recognise many people experience some nervousness before an interview. These nerves often interfere with candidates' ability to represent themselves and make it more challenging to learn about them. To help people feel comfortable, good interviewers rely on their empathy. They sense which gestures or encouraging comments might help someone relax so that they speak more naturally and comprehensively about their background. Because good interviewers understand interviewees' perspectives, they can adapt their approach to create productive conversations during which candidates feel confident and welcome.
Good interviewers meet with candidates from a wide range of backgrounds. Their curiosity helps them remain present throughout conversations and ask follow-up questions that result in informative answers. As good interviewers review a candidate's resume, their curiosity helps them notice unique skill sets or experiences that could add value to their organisations. Curiosity also makes applicants feel respected and more excited to discuss their qualifications, since they recognise their interviewer genuinely wants to learn about them.
Although candidates often focus on impressing a potential employer, interviewers also want to impress applicants. Often, talented professionals searching for a new role receive several competitive offers and may choose one based on subjective considerations, such as company culture and work environment. Good interviewers know the importance of sharing why they're enthusiastic about their employer and relating positive experiences so that the best candidates become eager to join their team. Enthusiasm also sets a positive tone for conversations and helps interviewees feel comfortable.
Good interviewers have in-depth knowledge of the organisations where they work. Before meeting a candidate, they fully understand the details of the role they're interviewing candidates for and its relationship to the rest of the company's operations. They appreciate what values and professional attitudes align with their company's culture and can inform candidates of what to expect if they're hired. Good interviewers apply their exceptional organisational knowledge to ensure that the candidates they recommend are the most likely to succeed and integrate well into the team.
How can you be an effective interviewer?
Here are some tips to help you become a more effective interviewer:
Follow a set structure
Every interview may unfold slightly differently. However, you benefit from adhering to a relatively set structure. Many interviewers begin by asking about the candidate's personal background and professional interests before discussing the experiences they list on their resumes. They often conclude with the most technical or challenging questions that test a candidate's expertise. This progression helps interviewees settle into a conversation and outline their work history in an accessible format.
Make your interviews conversational
Although interviews revolve around candidates asking questions, you can create more organic and comfortable exchanges by making them conversational. You can remain professional and focused while also meaningfully responding to what interviewees share. Since you might want to detail why you enjoy working for your company, treating interviews as two-way discussions can help you integrate your perspective into your meetings with candidates.
Standardise your assessments
To avoid inconsistency between interviews, use a standardised assessment tool to evaluate candidates. You might use a rating scale, for instance, to grade candidates on their qualifications or compatibility with your team. You might also standardise how you assess responses to the key questions you ask each interviewee.
Practise your techniques
Just as many professionals benefit from practising answering questions, you can improve your effectiveness as an interviewer by practising asking them. You can ask a colleague, friend or acquaintance to play the role of the candidate, so you can familiarise yourself with the flow of interviews and asking follow-up questions. You can also have them ask you the questions candidates might have so you learn how to provide informative and concise responses.
The end of an interview establishes the next steps in your relationship with a candidate, so it's important to conclude professionally. Allow your interviewee to ask you any remaining questions they have, and tell them when they can expect to hear from your company. Let them know who to contact if they have any concerns in the future, and thank them for their time.