Interview Tips

Prepared for that Big Interview?
Gain the knowledge you need to make a great impression.

Interviewing Effectively

Interviews are the most important step in your hiring process and require more time than you feel you have. An ineffective interview, though, can turn off good candidates, lead to a bad hiring decision and waste your time. So, it makes sense to conduct interviews as effectively as possible.

9 of the Most Common Interview Issues:

Issue 1: Most candidates and companies don't prepare well for the interviews.

Solution: Require that the candidate review certain information about your company before the first meeting. Then you can reinforce important points or answer questions rather than spend time reviewing a lot of basic information. This also will help you assess the candidate's comprehension, retention and diligence.

Likewise, you should prepare thoroughly by reading the candidate's resume and cover sheet before the interview, and by formulating your questions ahead of time.

Issue 2: The interviewer fails to learn enough relevant information about the candidate.

Solution: Determine what you want to learn about a candidate and prepare questions that will bring out the information you need. This includes thinking about the way you ask questions. Open-ended questions such as "Tell me about ABC's system conversion and your role in it" will get the candidate talking; whereas, closed-ended questions such as "So you led ABC's system conversion?" will not.

If you don't prepare the questions ahead of time, you may fall into an ineffective line of questioning. One way to improve your skills is to observe an interview conducted by a skilled interviewer, paying close attention to the interviewer's word choices, not the candidate's. Incorporate these questions and words into your own interviews, as appropriate.

Issue 3: The candidate fails to learn enough relevant information about the company and the specific job opening.

Solution: Before the interview, determine what the candidate should learn during the meeting. Then, stick to those topics. Many interviewers try to tell the candidate everything before they have established that there is a mutual interest. It is also extremely important to provide candidates with information that will pique their interest in the job and your company.

Issue 4: Many candidates don't want to spend several hours with a company on the first interview, because they may learn early on that the job is not for them and end up wasting their time.

Companies also can waste time when they schedule day-long first interviews because they too may learn early on that this is not the candidate for them.

Solution: Set up short, face-to-face initial screening interviews, about 30-40 minutes each. You will not make a hiring decision during this meeting, but you will qualify or rule out certain candidates. This meeting is most effective if you let the candidate talk for two-thirds of the time, leaving the balance of time for you to sell the company and the opportunity.

Issue 5: You want to learn as much as you can during the initial interview, without wasting time on candidates who won't fit your opening.

Solution: Conduct a face-to-face interview rather than a phone interview, but keep it short. You learn much more about candidates when you meet them face-to-face than you learn over the phone. For example, have you ever been surprised when you first meet someone you have interviewed over the phone? Perhaps a person sounds confident over the phone but has poor eye contact and negative body language in person. Surprises are more common than not.

Issue 6: Good candidates who are working put themselves at risk with their current employers when you ask them to keep coming back to your office for multiple interviews.

The more time between the initial contact with the candidate and the offer, the less likely it is that you will fill the job with the best candidate.

Solution: After the initial screening, have the candidate come back to meet key people in one visit, in back-to-back interviews. The candidate will have to make fewer excuses at work to get away, and your staff can compare notes more easily if the interviews are done on the same day. This second interview session should take place soon after the initial screening, because good candidates get other opportunities and you can lose them.

Issue 7: Having only one viable candidate in your company's hiring process at a time may lead to a very long hiring process. This happens because when you lose or eliminate your only candidate in the process, you start the process all over again.

Solution: Don't fall head over heels for one candidate too early. Keep more than one strong candidate in the process until you are done. Due diligence works better than love at first sight and prevents the excellent runner-up from getting away.

Issue 8: Most candidates will be turned off by interviewers who do not know much about the job or the company.

Solution: Don't delegate interviews to people who don't have the right knowledge, experience or capabilities.

Issue 9: All candidates are turned off by interviewers who are not very positive or who are not focused on the interview.

Solution: If an interviewer is not going to convey interest in the candidate, a positive self-image or a positive impression of the company, do not include them in the process. If that employee is the only person on your staff with the technical knowledge to conduct the interview, then retain control of the process by sitting in on the interview.