It’s important to prepare when it comes to conducting an interview. Similar to candidates taking the time to research a company in advance, we highly encourage those conducting interviews to prepare, too. Throughout our years of recruiting experience, we’ve proven that interview preparation greatly helps hiring managers evaluate candidates more successfully, and even promotes the company’s brand and culture. Being prepared takes time but pays off; you’ll determine a candidate’s skills and fit for the role more efficiently and create a positive candidate experience.
Here are seven tips to prepare before an interview:
- Know your candidates. | Take time to review each candidate’s resume, LinkedIn profile, and application making notes of key points in their skills, experience, and background. It allows you to use the interview time to elaborate on the main points, ask clarifying questions, and inquire about new information that to help with your evaluation.
When looking through a candidate’s resume, keep your interview questions in mind and ask yourself:
- Has the candidate already shared the information?
- Is there something in the candidate’s past experience I’d like to explore deeper during the interview?
- Did the candidate send over work samples I could use to drive the discussion on their skills?
Make notes for each candidate, so you’ll more easily remember who they are when you meet them.
- Prepare your interview questions. | Interviewers are missing out on the chance to evaluate candidates effectively if they do not prepare their questions ahead of time. To create a list of questions you are going to ask, use the job description to determine which skills are needed for the position, and how to assess them during the interview. From there, build questions around those skills.
Here are examples of evaluating communication skills and leadership:
- Communication | “What would you do if your manager gave you unclear instructions for a new project?”
- Collaboration | “How do you build rapport with your new team and manager?”
Avoid generic, overused questions such as “What is your greatest weakness?”. This question is so widely used that it’s easy to find good sample responses online. It would be more useful to ask behavioral or situational questions because they encourage candidates to think on their feet and tell their story.
- Use the same criteria for each candidate | By applying the same process and asking the same questions during each interview, it will enable you to gather the information that is comparable from candidate to candidate and can make the next steps easier. It also minimizes unintended or unconscious bias that may creep into the interview process.
In other words, the best way to evaluate candidates is by comparing the answers they give to the same interview questions.
- Keep detailed notes. | When you have multiple candidates scheduled to interview for the same position, it can be difficult to remember who answered what questions in a particular way, the difference between the candidates, and other factors. Don’t rely on your memory alone!
Take detailed notes while interviewing to help you distinguish between candidates and choose the best person.
Also, if you move to additional rounds of interviews, notes can help you avoid repetitive questioning and get more details about a particular point of interest.
- Be ready to answer questions. | Remember, the candidate is interviewing and evaluating you and the company during the interview, too. Candidates are trying to determine whether the job fulfills their career ambitions, and if the company is a good cultural fit for them.
Background to give candidates:
- The company’s culture, mission, and values
- Why this position is open
- The team’s current structure, projects, direction, and goals
- Unique perks and/or benefits extended by the company to the role
- What you like about your job and the team or company
Preparing for these topics in advance may take some time, but you’ll need to do this only once before the interviews begin.
- Sharpen your selling skills. | Keep in mind, interviewing is a two-way street. If you like a candidate, be sure to “sell” the position and company. Sharing company culture and expectations promotes the positives of working for your company. The candidate is more likely to accept your job offer if they are convinced this is the right fit for them.
Create a checklist to sell the position you’re hiring for, as well as your company.
- New developments or exciting plans (product launches, expanded geography, etc.)
- Soft benefits of working for your company (flexible schedule, remote work options, team outings, and/or strategic goal incentives)
- Highlight the advantages they’ll gain by taking the position (career growth opportunities, technology access, etc.)
Be sure to listen to what candidates say that they’re looking for in their job to personalize your “sales pitch”.
- Follow up after the interview. | Remember to update your staffing agency or candidate post-interview (ideally within 24-48 hours) to share valuable feedback about the conversation, ask follow-up questions or provide information they requested, or present an offer.
While conducting dozens of interviews to find the right candidate, managers should remember that a hiring evaluation outline can speed up the hiring process. By creating a plan to assess candidates for the open position on an equal paying field, you will review each resume prior to the interview, have a set of questions to ask candidates that helps them articulate their background and determine additional skills, and fine-tune your “sales pitch” so the candidate is excited about the opportunity to join your team/company.
If you need help finding the right talent to build your team, connect with DAHL’s employment experts. We’ll help you navigate a strategic workforce solution for your company’s hiring needs.