There are plenty of interview tips online for job seekers, but fewer places to find interview tips for hiring managers. Founders who aren’t trained in human resources may wonder how best to interview candidates. If you’re interested in improving your interview technique, or you’ll be conducting one for the first time soon, read on for some important tips:
1. Consider Preparing Your Candidates
While some interviewers like to let candidates sweat and think on the fly, others will give their top applicants a chance to prepare more extensively than that. Some prefer to give the candidates they’ll interview a brief sense of what the process will be like – will shadowing be involved? The completion of a task? If an interview will involve specific questions about esoteric skills, some people like to let the candidates know. This means they’ll get an idea of how good the candidate is when well-studied and prepared. It’s true a lot of situations may come up where extensive preparation isn’t possible, but there’s usually time to brush up quickly, unless it’s an emergency. Since that’s the case, giving notice might give you a more realistic picture of what the applicant can really do at work.
There are other practical reasons to let your candidates know what an interview will include. For example, if you’re asking for a test or a period of shadowing, that could take a while – some candidates will have commitments related to their job searches or families that they’ll need to work with or reschedule for the interview. Having a candidate who’s prepared to stay as long as you need him or her to be there will create a calmer, more informative interview process.
2. Decide What is Non-Negotiable
It’s important for you to decide what you’ll pay most attention to in an interview. Some people are invested in physical appearance and grooming, for example. A lot of advice on the Internet for job seekers, if you look around to find it, centers on business etiquette and other similar things. For example, whole articles are devoted to what to wear to an interview, how to do one’s hair and so on. Your candidates may be worrying about the strength of their handshakes – whether it’s too much or too little or an unconventional grip.
While you might not put much stock in these markers of politeness and finesse, candidates are almost certain to have put thought into it – and you may even have an unconscious bias toward those that have. When you’re looking through a resume database, it is a different experience from interviewing the people those documents represent. A clean presentation can make all the difference. However, if you want to make decisions that consciously ignore these traits and concentrate instead on professional and interpersonal effectiveness, you might find candidates you wouldn’t normally hire doing a great job. This requires advanced preparation, and an understanding that you will possibly have to make some trade-offs. Someone with scuffed shoes and a weird handshake can be the perfect fit for an open role, but you have to make the effort to look at what is genuinely important to you.
On the other hand, if appearance and etiquette are very important to you, you should own that. As long as you know your own priorities for an employee, you’re ahead of what can be a confusing process. If you know in advance how you’ll make decisions, interviews themselves can feel more purposeful. Simply make sure to ask the questions – and notice the details – that will give you the information you’ve already determined you need.
There are plenty of ways to conduct an interview, and lists of questions are pretty easy to come up with. Going into the process with the right priorities and disposition can be very helpful for first-time interviewers.