As part of our workforce
development mission we spend a
lot of time training our candidates
on how to handle themselves in a job interview. From proper attire to body language to communication skills – we do our best to prepare our candidates for the working world.
But, what about the other side of that equation? What about the interviewers? We often assume that those conducting a job interview are very experienced, know exactly what they are looking for and have spent years honing their interviewing skills. The reality is that all too often, those conducting a job interview are no more prepared than the person they’re interviewing.
Oddly enough, having people in hiring positions without much interviewing experiencing should be a goal, don’t you think? Companies would prefer to hire employees that will be with them for the long term. Unless you are expanding or in a high turnover industry, interviewing candidates should be an occasional occurrence not a regular one.
With that in mind we present some general guidelines in how to (or not to) conduct a job interview:
- Establish Rapport – Remember, the interviewee is more nervous than you. Greet them with a smile and a handshake. Briefly outline the interview objectives and structure.
- Gather Information – You have their resume and (hopefully) have read it. Ask open ended questions. Avoid those that elicit a “yes/no” answer.
- Ask The Right Questions – Focus on performance or behavioral based issues. For example, don’t ask “Are You Organized?” Rather, phrase it in a way that elicits a more informative response: “How did you organize your last project?” or “How would you react in this situation?” Feel free to dig deeper into any response. You are not trying to trap the candidate, just gain deeper insight.
- Don’t Ask The Wrong Questions – The obvious no-fly zones are race, religion, ethnic background, marital status and age. Even asking something simple like “Do you have a car?” can be considered discriminatory. The real trap here is when engaging in small talk. While this is an important to make the candidate feel at ease and get a feel for the person behind the mask, it can lead to dangerous areas if you are not careful. A candidate should feel they are being evaluated on their skills, and experience – not their gender or beliefs. You also want to be careful that you don’t get too comfortable with them and share information about the company or yourself that is inappropriate at this stage.
- Get To Know Them – Pay attention to their personality. Besides evaluating their abilities you are also looking to see how well they fit with the rest of your team. This can be a slippery slope so keep the focus on the job and note how they respond, act, etc.
- Sell Yourself – It is perfectly fine to sell the position and the company. You work there, after all, and want them to be excited about the possibilities.
- Don’t Mention The Last Guy – While a candidate may ask why the position is open avoid getting into what happened to the previous occupant. Unless, of course, that person was promoted to create the opening. You don’t want to say anything like “She just didn’t fit in to our culture.” That is a subjective evaluation.
- Take Notes – But be careful. Do not write anything that might be considered discriminatory. Even commenting on the candidate’s hair or speech patterns could be an issue.
- Close The Interview – Let the candidate know what the next steps are (smart candidates will ask).
As stated, these are general guidelines. Every industry and every job has different interview parameters. An entry level position interview has a different feel than one for an executive level position. One of the best things you can do it practice your interviewing technique. The more confident you feel the more at ease you’ll place the interviewee.
For additional suggestions on how to conduct a job interview visit:
What tips and tricks have you learned as an interviewer?