1. Choose where to hold the interview
Location plays a significant role in the effectiveness of your interview. Finding a quiet place will allow you to connect with a candidate without distractions.
Unless you’ve planned to include colleagues in the interview, be sure to hold the interview in a place where you can maintain a private, one-on-one conversation. This way, the candidate won’t feel pressured by people nearby who may overhear them.
For businesses in traditional office spaces, make sure to reserve your interview room as soon as possible. If your company culture is more relaxed, you may wish to conduct the interview in a casual setting such as in a lounge area or cafe off-site. Businesses like retail shops and restaurants often interview candidates in a back office, break room or another quiet area inside their place of business (e.g., restaurant dining room).
Double check that everything is in order before the interview takes place. This will ensure a smooth and effective interview experience, and leave the candidate with a good impression of your company.
2. Prepare a list of interview questions in advance
Plan out a list of interview questions to ask a candidate based on the job requirements and their resume or CV.
The number of interview questions you should prepare depends on what stage your candidates are at in the interview process. Initial phone screens, for example, are often 20-30 minutes long, which means it’s a good idea to prepare 5-10 questions. For longer in-person or video interviews, come up with 10-15 open-ended interview questions and expect to ask six or seven within an hour.
Be sure to include open-ended behavioral interview questions so candidates can elaborate on their skills and experience, and display their ability to tackle challenging topics. These types of questions will also help you assess a candidate’s critical thinking and communication skills.
Other types of interview questions to consider asking include:
- Cultural interview questions
- Brain teaser interview questions
- Unique interview questions
- Phone interview questions
When you create new interview questions, always check with your legal department to ensure you’re not violating any compliance regulations.
3. Carefully review the candidate’s resume and cover letter
One of the most important interview techniques is to take time to carefully review each candidate’s resume and/or cover letter shortly before the interview. This way you can easily recall important information about the candidate.
Beyond asking the specific interview questions you prepared in advance, encourage conversation by asking the candidate to explain and elaborate on the bullet points in their resume. You can also ask them to clarify any employment gaps, job hopping or unusual job titles.
Carefully reviewing the candidate’s resume will help you formulate the right questions, guide the conversation and gain better insight into how well the candidate’s skills and experience match the job duties.
4. Interviews should be conversational, not confrontational
It’s important to remember that candidates are looking for the right company and job to fit their needs as much as you’re looking for the best candidate to hire. Make a positive impression by welcoming the candidate and treating the interview like a casual conversation.
Take the first 5-10 minutes at the start of the interview to build rapport with the candidate, loosen up their interview nerves and make them feel more comfortable. Ask how their day is going, if they had any trouble finding the interview location and if they’d like a glass of water before starting. You can also bring up anything you have in common with the candidate. For example, did you attend the same college? Do you have similar interests? Have you worked for the same company in the past?
An excellent way to encourage candidates to accept a job offer (should you decide to hire them after the interview process) is to mention aspects of the company and work life that current employees find enjoyable. For example, if your company offers unique perks, such as on-site fitness classes or unlimited vacation, it’s worth sharing these benefits during the interview process.
Interviews should be two-way streets, so make sure to leave enough time at the end for candidates to ask any questions they may have. This can also reveal how engaged and interested a candidate is in the role and company.
5. Explain the interview process and next steps
After the interview, let candidates know what they can expect. Explain your company’s hiring process, especially if it’s complex and involves multiple rounds or conversations with other interviewers.
Be clear about what next steps will be. Should they expect a phone call or email? How long will it take for you to make a decision? When are you hoping to fill the position?
6. Consider holding a group interview
Instead of using the traditional interview process, you may want to consider bringing in multiple candidates as part of a group interview. This interviewing technique is useful if you need to hire a relatively large number of people quickly and for similar roles.
Group interviews can also help you assess how a candidate interacts in a team environment. By providing a group of candidates with a test assignment, you can observe teamwork skills as well as how they apply their professional abilities to complete a task.
7. Follow up after the interview
Even if you decide not to move forward with a candidate, it’s important to let them know instead of leaving them hanging. Following up shows that you respect the candidate’s time and effort and can create a positive reputation and candidate experience.
Once you’ve made your decision, make a phone call to successful candidates to tell them the good news — whether it’s extending them an offer or scheduling the next round of interviews. Consider sending an email to unsuccessful candidates explaining what they did well and why you made your decision — and make sure to thank them for their time.
By using the right interview techniques, you can not only quickly find the right candidate for the job, but build a positive brand reputation that can improve your candidate experience. People talk about how they’re treated during the interview process, so make sure you’re giving them something great to talk about.