What is a job interview?
A job interview is a formal meeting consisting of a conversation between a job applicant and an employer to assess whether the applicant should be hired for a job role advertised by the employer. Interviews are one of the most popular devices used for employee selection.
Conducting a job interview is a major part of the recruitment process. It allows employers to obtain certain information on the candidate’s ability and prior experience, which gives an indication on how they may perform the duties of the role.
So how do you conduct a seamless and professional interview process?
Here are a few top interviewer tips that will help you to conduct the perfect interview:
1. Review the job description
Before the job interview starts, it’s important that you are fully aware of what you have written in the job description and what the roles and responsibilities are.
If you’ve been thorough with your job description, you will have selected potential candidates based on their suitability for the role. By reviewing the job description, you will be able to formulate the best questions to ask, as well as developing an understanding of exactly what you are looking for in a candidate.
2. Understand what you are looking for
Although it is a good starting point, you may need more than a well-written job description to conduct the interview. One of the most important interviewing tips for interviewers is to fully understand what you’re looking for in a candidate.
Think about how your ideal employee would behave in the role. As the interviewer, you need to ask interview questions that test your interviewee against your expectations to discover if they are a ‘cultural fit’ for your business.
Writing a checklist of these expectations will help you compare interviewees and make it easier for you to decide on who to hire.
3. Know what questions to ask
It’s essential you prepare a list of questions when conducting a job interview. The balance of question types is equally important.
You should include competency questions to see how the interviewee would approach the role. Character questions test how the candidate will fit with your team. Asking about career goals lets you learn what motivates your interviewee. Remember to ask open questions – that can’t be answered yes or no – to encourage the candidate to talk in more detail.
Preparation is key: from greetings to the final question, make sure you have all bases covered.
4. Prepare beyond the job interview
Don’t underestimate the importance of little details in the job interview. You want your interviewee to be comfortable enough to get their true personality across.
Check the interview room, for example. Is it private and comfortable? Do you have water on the table? If interviewing remotely, is your sound and camera working, is your Wi-Fi connection good? Introducing candidates to your team members on the interview panel before the interview starts is a great way to see how they interact with people, while giving the interviewee a chance to learn more about your company.
5. Practice makes perfect
Running through your questions and expectations with a colleague before an interview will boost your confidence.
It’s worth asking a second team member to join you in the interview to take notes. This gives you more time to focus on the interviewee and respond to their answers.
Colleagues are a good source of tips on how to run a job interview. They may be interested to get your interview advice too!
6. Make it a conversation
A job interview can be an insightful and enjoyable experience for interviewer and interviewee.
Help your interviewee get the most out of the session by putting them at ease at the start. Conversational questions will help you get to know the candidate and encourage them to talk freely before the more challenging interview questions begin.
Follow the 80-20 rule of interviewing: let the interviewee talk 80% of the time.
7. Listen more
As the interviewer, you will be thinking about your questions and how to guide the job interview.
Remember that your aim is to learn about the candidate. A popular rule is speak 20% of the time and listen for 80% of the interview. Silence can be unnerving, but give your interviewee time to think about how to answer your questions – and resist the urge to break the silence yourself.
You should also encourage the candidate to ask their own questions, during the interview and at the end.
8. Expect questions from interviewees
Alongside encouraging questions from your interviewee, expect them to come equipped with questions ranging from company culture down to development and progression opportunities.
Take this time to give more information about the company that interviewees may not have discovered from their research, including the working environment and how the pandemic has affected the business. You want to make sure that interviewees are given an insight into the purpose of the company but also how the team works effectively.
9. Be aware of ‘unconscious bias’
As the saying goes, don’t judge a book by its cover. You get your first impression of someone in just seven seconds, driven by your unconscious brain.
When running a job interview, it’s important that you are aware of this bias. Remind yourself not to make your final decision too quickly. Stick to your planned questions and use a standardised checklist to give every interviewee a fair chance.
10. Don’t promise what you can’t deliver
It’s natural to want to paint a positive picture of the job on offer. However, be careful not to misrepresent the role or your company.
The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development describes this conversation as a “psychological contract”. If the reality of the job is different to the expectations set at the interview, then the psychological contract is broken, which can lead to a new hire leaving.
11. Ending the interview in the right way
Let your candidate know when they should expect a response from you, and how that response will be delivered. You should provide or reaffirm with them the contact information they’ll need to look out for and double-check that the contact information you have for them is correct.
Before leaving the room or video call, it’s important to thank the interviewee for their time. This ends the interview on a positive note and leaves them with a good impression of the company. A quality candidate is also interviewing you, so you want to make sure you give a good account of the company.
What happens after the interview?
Conducting a job interview doesn’t stop when the interview ends and the interviewee leaves the room. Following up with the candidate after an interview is a vital (and often missed) step of the process.
Put yourself in the candidate’s shoes and think about how they experience the next steps. You should tell them when they can expect to hear back with a decision and let them know if there are any delays in the process. Not following up could damage your reputation and lose that prospect.
Don’t rush into a final decision during the interview itself. Take time to review your interviewees’ performance before updating everyone on the outcome. Finally, always be willing to offer constructive feedback should an interviewee request it.
In this challenging market, it’s vital that your interview process – whether on or offline - is effective, keeps candidates engaged, and ultimately helps you secure the top professionals.
Download our latest eBook ‘The ultimate guide to conducting remote interviews’ for all the tools you need to conduct effective remote interviews.