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Conducting an Effective Interview is More than Asking Questions

Conducting an effective hiring interview is more than asking questions. Unfortunately, I learned this the hard way by making all of these mistakes and more. Are you involved in the hiring and interviewing process at your organization? If so, here are 7 points to consider before your next interview.

Where Will The Interview Take Place?

The interview should be conducted in a clean, uncluttered, and quiet location. I believe conducting the interview from behind a desk is not as conducive to open, honest dialogue as sitting facing one another without obstacles (like a desk) between you and the candidate.

What Will You Wear?

Back in the day (I am old school), the interview uniform was a coat and tie, which, even then felt inappropriate when conducting interviews for positions that didn’t require a coat and tie. Today, business is often less formal, and business casual may be suitable. Obviously, don’t dress down to the point of reflecting negatively on your organization, but don’t overdress and set yourself too far above the candidate. Wearing torn blue jeans while interviewing a c-level candidate is probably as ineffective as wearing a suit while interviewing for labor positions. Either situation may make it more difficult for a candidate to “open up” with you.

What Should You Know About The Candidate Ahead Of Time?

Be prepared by reviewing resumes, applications, and doing research before the interview. Too many times the first time I looked at a resume was sitting with the candidate waiting to be interviewed. You should have a good understanding of the candidate’s qualifications and experience without passing judgment or making strong opinions before meeting the candidate.

What Should You Give Candidates To Take With Them?

I suggest preparing a packet for qualified candidates to take with them which could include:

  • Job description

  • Benefit package information

  • Product brochures

  • Awards, news, and press releases/mentions

  • A company newsletter

  • Mission, vision, and ethics statements

Who Should Be Allowed To Interrupt You During The Interview?

I want to say, “NO ONE,” but that’s not true. I remember conducting interviews while waiting for news about my father, who was in the hospital. I left my phone on. I’ve conducted interviews while waiting for an important client call and took the call. However, don’t make it the rule — it should be the exception. Your staff and team should understand not to interrupt you unless it’s critical, can’t wait, and no one else can handle it.

How Long Should An Interview Take?

That’s a difficult question because the skill sets required for various positions will affect the time needed to gather the information. I conduct most interviews in 30 minutes or less, however, the interview process may consist of several 30-minute incremental steps. Why 30 minutes? It’s been my experience if an interview is focused, and the interviewer knows what they're looking for, it can be completed in 30 minutes or less. Often interviewers will budget more time than is needed, then fill the time — Parkinson’s Law.

When Should The Interview Be Ended?

The interview should end either when it’s determined the candidate does not fit the position, or by explaining the next step in the interview process to qualified candidates. I strongly urge transparency in an interview. The minute it’s determined a candidate is not a good fit or does not qualify, end the interview by politely telling the candidate why they don’t fit. Why waste anymore of their or your time? In my opinion, it is irresponsible and unfair to continue an interview with someone you wouldn’t consider for the position. Please don’t complete an interview then tell an unqualified candidate you’ll contact them.

Plan ahead, be prepared, think this through, and you will increase your competency as an interviewer and the quality of candidates you recommend to your organization.

A Second Interview

In many job selection processes the initial interview is proceeded by a follow-up interview. I’ve found a follow-up interview works best when centered on the following questions:

  • Follow-up questions determining the candidate’s understanding of information previously shared

  • Probing questions about their previous position(s) and how the candidate may or may not fit the culture of your organization

  • Behavioral questions designed to determine the candidate’s ability to complete tasks and work with the team

With multiple interviews, I recommend different managers conduct them. The insights of two managers are usually better than one. I’ve missed a pertinent aspect another interviewer has found. Although it's not always possible, I believe the manager who’ll directly manage the employee should conduct the follow-up interview; this helps the manager bond with the candidate, establishing a direct report relationship

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About the author

Randy Clark is a speaker, coach, and author. He publishes a weekly blog at Randy Clark Randy is passionate about social media, leadership development, and flower gardening. He's a beer geek, and on weekends he can be found fronting the Rock & Roll band Under the Radar. He's the proud father of two daughters; he has four amazing grandchildren and a wife who dedicates her time to helping others. Randy is the author of the Amazon bestseller The New Manager's Workbook, a crash course in effective management.

If you found this helpful, you might enjoy this as well What Can You Do When a Valuable Employee Gives Notice

Image by u_eg4olrxbwc from Pixabay


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