When most people think about an interview, they feel nervous. It’s common for interviewees to spend time researching the company, preparing for expected questions, and even prepping references in case they get called. Rarely do people think about the other side of an interview. It’s the interviewees job to impress the person interviewing them if they want to get the job. However, the interviewer has an important role as well: they must weed out the undesirable candidates, narrow down the search, and eventually pick the person who will be the best fit for the job. Although the interviewer holds the power during an interview, being too cold or businesslike can intimidate potentially strong candidates, and asking the wrong questions can also affect the interview. So the interviewer must prepare for the interview as well. Here are five tips that will help you to become a better interviewer.
1. Be prepared
The best way to be a strong interviewer is to be prepared. While every interviewer will probably have questions prepared, you should tailor your questions to fit the specific job you are filling. This can be difficult if you work in human resources and you work for a big company because you may be responsible for several interviews each week. However, creating questions that are specific to the position you are trying to hire for will help you find the best candidate.
Another aspect of being prepared is to take the time to review information about the individual candidate. While you can ask questions that will help you know about the person you are interviewing, it’s still a good idea to go over their resume and cover letter before they come in. Jot down specific concerns or questions that you want answered that are related to their specific job experience.
2. Ask open ended questions
Some questions are necessary even though they only require a “yes” or “no” answer, but in general, asking questions that allow the candidate to give examples and elaborate on their answers, will provide you with the most information. These questions also allow the candidate to highlight their skills and experience, whereas asking questions which can be answered in one or two words often don’t allow for explanation. According to TLNT, asking certain types of questions will help you find the best candidate. You can ask questions about how the candidate will solve problems, ask questions about the candidate’s ability to learn and adapt, and focus on questions that will help you understand the individual candidates.
3. Be willing to go off course
While it’s important to be prepared, and to think of questions ahead of time (for all candidates, as well as for specific candidates), you should also be flexible. If you think of a question that you want to ask a certain candidate, don’t feel that you have to stay with your original list of questions. If a candidate asks a question that you weren’t expecting, and it leads the interview in a different direction (but one that is still beneficial), be open to moving away from your initial prepared interview format. If you are acting under a very specific time crunch, it can be difficult to incorporate extra questions or additional discussion into an interview, but doing so can be very helpful when you are trying to figure out if a candidate is a good fit for the job.
4. Create a comfortable atmosphere
Interviews are difficult, and even the most confident job seeker can get nervous. Although it is the interviewee’s job to impress you, the more you can do to make job candidates feel comfortable, the better they will perform, and hopefully, the more you will learn about them and their ability to do the job you are hiring them for. According to Chron, it helps to let candidates know about how long the interview will last, as well as what types of questions you plan to ask. Engaging in small talk can also encourage the candidate to feel comfortable. Chron warns that although open-ended questions can be beneficial, it’s best to avoid questions that interviewees won’t know how to answer, such as a request that they tell you about themselves.
5. Avoid inappropriate questions
Certain questions will make interviewees uncomfortable. Although it is important to see how candidates act under pressure, deliberately throwing difficult questions at them can create a very uncomfortable environment. In addition, if you do ask questions with the intent of unnerving a candidate, you won’t necessarily get a chance to see how much they really can do, or their best qualities, because they will be trying to rebound from the question.
In addition to questions that are designed to make a candidate uncomfortable, there are also questions that you should avoid for other reasons. According to FindLaw, some personal information is protected. Questions about race, beliefs, marital status, sexual orientation, or age, should be avoided. Sometimes these questions come up in conversation, but if possible, try to avoid them.
As important as an interview is to the interviewee, the interviewer has a vital role. While coming off as cold or disinterested might weed out more timid candidates, that type of approach to interviewing also might lead you to miss out on ideal candidates as well. By making the interview atmosphere comfortable, and asking appropriate and thought-provoking questions, you will learn more about your candidates, and hopefully choose the right one.