For all the ink that has been spilled advising job candidates how best to perform in an interview, comparatively little has been said about how hiring managers and HR personnel should best conduct them. Of course, in most North American jurisdictions, there are legal guidelines that form the basic parameters of the kind of questions that can and cannot be posed to applicants in a job interview. Other than basic regulatory compliance, however, many organizations have surprisingly few defined policies or practices in place to govern the course of job interviews.
Better Interviews, Better Hiring Decisions
The time and resources involved in the recruitment process have skyrocketed in recent decades, and years of research have indicated that a candidate's degree of 'fit' with an organization is often an important factor in determining the length and success of their tenure with the company. In other words, there is a lot riding on each and every job interview you conduct. Basically, the interview is your best chance not only to confirm the details of the candidate's qualifications, but also to get a feel for their personality, comportment, and attitude.
But contrary to popular belief, the burden of job interview performance does not rest entirely on the shoulders of the candidate. The hiring manager conducting the interview also plays a major role in determining its outcome. The level of thought and preparation that you put into the interview process will, to a large extent, dictate the accuracy and comprehensiveness of the information you can glean from it. Here are some tips and strategies to keep in mind when prepping for your next interview.
Some interviewers try their best to be friendly and non-threatening, while others think that a harsher approach will allow them to see how the applicant performs under pressure. The most effective tone to strike is right in the middle of these two extremes. A pleasant, business-like approach will put the candidate at ease and keep things on track.
You can never tell exactly how each interview will unfold, but if you make an outline of all the topics you want to address and the order in which you will cover them, you're more likely to get all the information you need. It's all too easy to drift off topic, only to realize after the fact that you forgot to ask half of the questions you had in mind. Interestingly enough, experts say this kind of "mission drift" is more likely to occur when you have a sense of instant rapport with a candidate.
There's no surer way to stop an interview dead in its tracks than to pose a series of "yes or no" questions to a candidate. Instead, devise questions that will force them to discuss their qualifications and experience at length. This will help establish a better back-and-forth dynamic and "flow," as well as giving you a chance to observe the way the candidate thinks and responds on his or her feet.
There's no point in sticking to the same set of safe, predictable questions that every candidate has prepared for. Instead, try to dig a little deeper with slightly unusual questions that will require fresh insight and analysis on their part. Keep it specific and focused on real-world situations that will likely pop up in the course of a day's work. Dig deeper than the "pat" answer that the applicant will usually provide first and probe for examples and experiences.
When it comes to job interviews, compensation questions are usually the proverbial 500-pound gorilla in the room. Addressing the issue head-on will help clear the air and allow both of you to focus on the more important issues at hand.
Conducting an effective job interview can be trickier than it sounds. With a little planning and preparation, though, you'll be able to significant increase the quality of information you elicit during face-to-face discussions with applicants -- and make much better hiring decisions as a result.