An interview is arguably the most important part of the hiring process. If you’re well-prepared, an interview is a great way to identify qualified job applicants—but if you’re not well prepared, then you can end up hiring the wrong person, and that’s far more expensive than hiring the right candidate. Because of this, it’s not just important for hiring managers to conduct an effective interview—it’s absolutely crucial.
Here are some simple tips that will help you conduct a successful job interview:
1. Define the Job Requirements
If you haven’t already done so in the job posting, identify all of the job requirements before you sit down with an interview candidate. You can do this by consulting with a co-worker who knows the position well and creating a list of things that are imperative to the success of the job. The idea is to have a clear understanding of the required skills for the position so you can look for these traits during the interview.
2. Ask Appropriate Questions
Don’t ask questions that require an applicant to reveal any information protected by law. This includes:
- National origin
- Marital status
- Sexual orientation
To ensure that your interview is a helpful tool in the hiring process, always prepare your questions in advance—don’t wait until the day of the interview. It’s okay to be flexible and to ask some questions on the spot, but having a solid list of relevant questions will guide the interview so you don’t go off on a tangent.
Additionally, make sure you ask questions that require more than just a “yes” or “no” answer. This will provide you with the most relevant and useful information during the interview. If your interviewee doesn’t provide enough details, then probe for more information before you move on to another question.
3. Pay Close Attention to Responses
Listen carefully to the answers provided by the interviewee so you don’t end up asking a question that has already been answered. A mistake like this is not only embarrassing, but it also shows that you aren’t listening. Sometimes a response to a question will give you the answer to another question, so be especially attentive for these things during the interview.
4. Take Notes
Unless you have a photographic memory, it’s a good idea to take notes during the interview. This not only makes the candidate feel important, but it also makes it easier to recall the answers given so you can make a more accurate assessment. If you’re planning to interview several candidates, make a set of detailed notes for each interviewee and draw conclusions from your notes.
After the interview, assign a grade to the candidate based on interview performance. By doing so, you’ll have a quantified metric to compare to other applicants.
5. Check References
Don’t assume that everything in the applicant’s resume is accurate. People sometimes make false claims in order to bolster their qualifications, especially when an important job is on the line. To protect yourself against this, always verify the candidate’s credentials, references, and background information before extending an offer of employment.
Also, make sure you contact former supervisors and ask them about the candidate’s performance as well as quality of work. If you have uncertainties or doubts about an applicant, this is a great way to confirm some of that information.