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HR Full Cycle: 7 Secrets for Effective Interviewing

Conducting an effective interviewThis is part two of our HR Full Cycle Series. Read part one here, “Top Three Tips for Writing a Stellar Job Posting”.

The interview may very well be the most critical part of the hiring process. While the goal is to find the best possible fit for the position and your company, the interview process is also a chance for you to communicate about your employer brand. And the interview is often where your candidate forms a lasting impression of your company. It’s a chance to ensure your candidate has a great experience. In fact, our Job Seeker Nation study found that nearly half of candidates said that the interview makes the biggest impact on their impression of a job.

Yet with all the importance placed on interviewing, it’s surprisingly easy to conduct really ineffective interviews. So how do you ensure you make the most out of your interviews? Read on for our interview dos and don’ts.

1. Do Be Prepared

It seems obvious, doesn’t it? But in our busy, everyday working lives, sometimes we don’t prepare as much for interviews as we should. And it really can make a huge difference in terms of a positive experience – both for you and the interviewee.

This includes really understanding the position and the skills and characteristics needed to fill it successfully. Do your homework about the candidate so that you’re familiar with their resume and credentials. And create a list of interview questions that you can ask each candidate (for easier comparison later) and ensuring those questions really get to the heart of the experience and behavior that you want to see in that perfect candidate.

2. Don’t Ask Clichéd Questions

Some of the biggest offenders: “Tell me about yourself.” Or “What is your greatest strength/weakness?” Or “Where do you see yourself in five years?” Not only are these questions vague, but they put the candidate in a position to tell you what you want to hear. You also miss a chance to differentiate yourself as an employer when you ask the same questions as every other company.

So toss the clichés and design questions to surface real information about behaviors and characteristics that you require for the position. Fewer questions that go deeper often will tell you much more than 15 generic, standard interview questions.

3. Do Leverage Technology

Interviewing is a commitment. It takes a lot of time. In an effort to be more efficient, most companies rely on the phone screen as a way to narrow down their candidate pool and select who will come in for an in-person interview. And while phone screens can be helpful, nothing beats face-to-face interviewing.

So why not use video interviewing? You get all the benefits of a face-to-face interview with the efficiencies of a phone screen. And it’s a much richer experience for both candidate and interviewer. There are so many low or no-cost video technologies available, there’s just no excuse not to use them.

4. Do Conduct Behavioral Interviews

There’s no guaranteed way to get the right answers from your candidate and ensure you make the right hire. But behavioral interviewing allows you to look at past behavior as an indicator of how your candidate might perform in the future.

A question that starts with “tell me about a time in your last position when…” will generate a much more insightful response because it’s grounded in the candidate’s real-life experience. It’s a much stronger replacement of “what would you do if…” which tends to lead the candidate to tell you what you want to hear. Behavioral interviewing takes some preparation and practice, but it’s well worth the investment.

5. Don’t Lead Your Interviewee

It’s so easy to do. You get in a conversational rapport with your interviewee and end up telling them all about the position and exactly what you want to hear. If you want to get real answers from your candidates, don’t tip your hand. Instead, ask questions first. Then share details about the position expectations and the company.

6. Do Ask All Interviewees the Same Questions

In order to measure your candidates fairly you need to ask them the same questions. So abandon those clichéd questions and prep a good set of behavioral questions and make sure you ask them to each and every candidate. It will make for a fair and less subjective evaluation after your interviews.

7. Don’t Let Your Own Biases Get in the Way

We’re human and we all have them. And there are certainly some deal-breakers. But in a highly competitive job market, don’t fall into the trap of being too strident about things that may not indicate what kind of employee your candidate will make. Let’s say a rock star candidate applies with a resume that looks absolutely perfect. And then you find a typo. Don’t screen that candidate out automatically. You may miss out on the perfect person for the position.

Effective interviewing is tough and time-consuming work. Every interview and every hire is important. But with these tips you’ll be in better shape to uncover the best candidate and best fit for your organization.


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