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The Importance of Conducting a Good Interview

The interview process is one of the most important steps in a company’s recruitment strategy. As such, it is critical for hiring managers to develop their interviewing skills to better discover top applicants for open job positions.

Good interviews allow hiring managers to verify the credibility of the candidate’s application. Companies can learn more about the applicant, including their career goals, work ethic, and personality. These qualities are significant determinants in employee engagement and the future success of the company.

Moreover, interviews can act as an advertising tool: a positive interview experience can leave a lasting impression of a brand on the applicant’s mind. They may be motivated to either continue interaction with or positively promote the brand, even if they aren’t ultimately hired.

In this post, we take a deep dive into the importance of a structured interview, as well as tips on how you can make an interview more effective.

 

Interview Techniques for Employers

Each HR professional has their own set of preferred interview techniques that lead to more useful and productive interviews. The following are just a few examples:

Start with a detailed job description

A clear job description is king. It is the first thing applicants are exposed to and provides better insight into the company and role. Hiring managers should focus on writing a descriptive posting that can help answer many of the candidate’s potential questions. These may include:

– What responsibilities and duties fall under the role?
– Is it a permanent, part-time, or contract-based position?
– Which skills are necessary for the role?
– What is the company culture like?
– What are the pay and benefits?

An accurate and detailed job description is an opportunity to clearly describe the expectations of a job to prevent candidates from feeling blindsided in the future. Job descriptions should aim to entice, but never mislead.

Structure the interview

Ever sat in on an interview and felt the conversation wasn’t going anywhere? Did it mostly seem like a friendly chat, rather than a job interview? Lack of direction and ineffectiveness can occur when interviews are not structured. Across the HR industry, there is a unanimous agreement that structured interviews are far superior in predicting a candidate’s success compared to a non-structured interview.

So how do you structure an interview? Start by developing interview questions that are relevant to the company and the work at hand. Consistency in the questions asked will be one of the best ways to gauge candidate fit and capability. It also makes the selection process easier, as the responses can be more closely compared with one another.

“As an HR practitioner with over 15 years of recruiting experience,” says DevelopIntelligence’s Jana Tulloch, CPHR, “using a structured interview that is scored is the best way to ensure consistency and fairness during hiring, although no system is perfect. Anytime you’re evaluating someone, even with the most objective criteria, subjective assessments can creep in. This is particularly true with known or internal candidates where there may already be preconceptions of the individual.”

Ask creative interview questions

Of course, not every job will be purely mathematical or data-driven. At times, it may be insightful to ask creative questions – the type that will test your candidate’s approach to problem solving. These questions don’t necessarily have to be related to the position, they need only to spark the imagination and thought process. Here are a few examples, courtesy of Hubspot:

– What is your definition of hard work?
– What’s the biggest decision you’ve had to make in the past year?
– In five minutes, could you explain something to me that is complicated but you know so well?
– Pitch our company to me as if I were buying our product/service.
– Tell me about a time you screwed up.

Any of these questions could elicit unique responses depending on the applicant. Be sure to give them time to think about their response. It’s also best to save these questions for the end of the interview, as they tend to be more open-ended than structured questions.

 

Identifying Undesirable Behaviors in the Interview

In some scenarios, you may encounter a candidate that meets all the qualifications, but has a personality or attitude that raises several red flags. Are they having a bad day, or could their actions and words be symptoms of a much larger behavioral problem? In either case, asking the right questions to identify toxic behavior and to assess cultural fit can save your company a headache later down the line. Here are a few tips to navigate difficult candidates:

Create a panel of interviewers – Who knows, perhaps you may have a slight bias for or against certain candidates. By having a second opinion (or multiple), you can better judge the words and actions of each applicant, and truly see whether others notice any odd behavior during the interview.

Listen carefully to the topics they discuss – Does a certain applicant tend to talk poorly about others? Or perhaps they speak too highly of themselves? Words can be telling, and the words your applicants choose can say a lot about their character, even if it appears to be small talk. Check out Workable’s blog post on identifying toxic employees.

Contact their references – Verify the credibility of your candidates by reaching out to their references. Ask about their experience working with the candidate. Many will have nothing but positive things to say, but if they are reluctant to pick up or are less enthusiastic in their review, you’ll want to make note of that.

Ask the right questions – Probe your applicants about their work experience, and you may uncover a deeper story. A previous work argument may be a simple misunderstanding, or it may be a sign of a vicious habit. You won’t know until you use the right questions. Spark Hire offers a few questions worth using in screening toxic employees.

 

Interview Checklist for Employers

– What information should you give about the company?
– Can you clearly describe the job position? What are the roles and responsibilities involved?
– Where will you post the job opening? How long will you search for a candidate, and how many applicants will you accept?
– Have you read the candidate’s resume? Do their skills and qualifications meet the requirements?
– Do you have all of your questions ready? Has the legal department approved the questions?
– Does the candidate understand the post-interview process and timeline?

 

How to Assess Candidates After the Interview

After all the candidate interviews are complete, recruiters must make the difficult choice of choosing the best one. The post-interview process will be just as important as the interview itself. While the interview can help introduce the candidate, it is by no means a complete evaluation of their character.

Observe their behavior outside the interview

Usually, the interview only brings out candidates’ best, most optimistic, behavior. To truly learn about the candidate, hiring managers need to pay attention to how they behave outside of the interview. Do they treat the staff with respect? Do they change their personality in a questionable way?

Watch out for their online behavior

Don’t forget about their online etiquette as well. How do candidates conduct themselves in online public circles? How do they write their emails? Prescreening through the use of social media can be a controversial topic, so you need to define a policy on how employees are expected to present themselves. Your next hire will not only work for you, but they’ll also come to represent your brand outside of the workplace. Make certain that they do not tarnish your brand’s goodwill.

Use an evaluation form

Hiring managers may be curious about how to create a format to review candidates. With so many different values and metrics, it can be confusing to know which one to focus on for employers. Instead, focus on your company’s mission and culture. Consider referencing an evaluation form, such as the Society for Human Resources Management’s Candidate Evaluation form for inspiration in generating new ideas.

Once you and the talent acquisition management team finalize a candidate, then defining clear next steps in the process becomes the next priority. Onboarding is an important experience to nail down – new hires should feel comfortable and capable in their newly assigned responsibilities. Otherwise, they may not feel motivated to stay with the company for longer.

 

 

There are several moving parts with the interview process, but it is of the utmost importance that hiring managers focus on fine-tuning the experience – from the job opening creation to the post-interview process. Over time, your company will start noticing the results in the talent it hires.

Want to learn more about acquiring the top talent, not just someone to fill the job? Check out our last blog post.

If you’re curious about managing your talent after they’re onboarded, we’ve also written a guide on that. For an even more in-depth guide, check out our big post Talent Management: How Companies Can Attract and Retain Talent.

To learn more about finding, acquiring, and onboarding new talent, visit Novel Coworking’s blog today.