Corey Berkey

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The job interview. It’s as integral as it is dreaded—often by both sides of the conference room table. However, the interview is not only an opportunity for the candidate to ‘show what they know,’ but a reciprocal opportunity for you, as the company representative, to uphold what you’ve sold during the recruiting process—like a spot-on job description and an attractive  employer brand.

No matter who you’re hiring, here are eight tips and recommendations to help interviewers stay in control and on point:

1. Conduct a Conversation. Put the applicant at ease with a conversation. Lead off the conversation with predetermined behavioral questions. However, notes on a sheet do not dictate a rigid meeting. Strong interviewers can generate conversation with hidden agendas to seek information. For example, ask very direct, potentially “mean” interview questions that help check for red flags.

2. Reference Your Research. If they’ve made it to the in-person interview, you should feel confident in your understanding of the candidate’s professional background. Now is your opportunity to have the interviewee elaborate on points uncovered from the phone screen and any other areas of interest from their resume. Help them recall their previous interaction as well. They may not have as thorough and focused a source of notes as the interviewer.

It’s also worth noting that since you’ve done a lot of research on the candidate’s history and discussed it briefly over the phone, the in-person interview is a great time to focus on making sure their story stays consistent. Ask some of the same questions you asked during the phone screen, which is most relevant when going over employer history.

3. Have a Fluid Agenda. It’s important to have an agenda for the flow of the conversation (i.e. introductions, questioning, overview of the company, and wrap up)—more on the ideal interview structure here. However, having flexibility within the typical one-hour interview is important since no two interviews are the same. A strong interviewer will manage the time and the conversation, while mindfully understanding what needs to be accomplished within the time allotted.

4. Ask STAR Questions. STAR behavior interview questions deliver the:

  • Situation (experiential or situational) and background
  • Task describing challenges and expectations
  • Action that highlights the tools and resources utilized for the task
  • Results that brag about the accomplishments

5. Be an Active Listener. Interviewers need to epitomize the textbook definition of ‘active listener.’ While it is the responsibility of the interviewee to ignite the interest and attention of the interviewer, the interviewer must also be disciplined to maintain eye contact and welcoming body language and facial expressions that engage the conversation.

6. Document, Document, Document. Human resources professionals are trained to document everything. The interview process is no exception. The interviewer should take notes based on verbatim responses during the interview. This will enable the hiring team to consistently compare the candidates’ qualifications in a standardized way and record these observations in an applicant tracking system for easy access and sharing.

7. Welcome Silence. An interviewer’s job is to initiate conversation and find opportunities to probe. A good interviewer is quiet and attentive and does not lead interviewees in any particular direction, rather letting them reveal their honest qualifications and preferences. Although the interviewer leads the conversation, he or she does not dominate it.

8. Be Time Conscious. The interview process contributes to the cost of hiring. With that said, it is recommended for an interview to be 30 to 60 minutes long, depending on who is interviewing. Typically, a recruiter will gauge his or her impression within the first fifteen minutes while the hiring manager may spend a full hour with the candidate. Peripheral team members may only need 30 minutes or so. In the case of a panel interview, you may allot more time.

First Comes the Interview, then Comes Evaluation

With the interviewing process complete, the difficult challenge is comparing and contrasting the pool of candidates before you. The evaluation process can be tricky, especially if you’re dealing with equally or closely qualified candidates.

For those who will not be going forward to the next stage of the hiring process, it is best to notify by phone. Keep in mind that if you took the time to interview a candidate in person, you should take the time to pick up the phone, not send an impersonal email. No only is the phone call respectful, it also helps you protect your employer brand.

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