10 Ways to Conduct Great Interviews With Potential Employees
Breaking the ice with a new potential employee can be awkward for everybody involved. You’re conducting a conversation from a place of power, vetting them for appropriate skills and workplace fit, and in turn, they’re seeing whether your company is the sort of environment they could thrive to their greatest potential in. All this from a simple dialogue!
Nowadays, we’re savvy when it comes to the interview process. Everybody has a certain set of expectations and a set of prepared answers. However, there’s nothing to say that you can’t find a way to create engaging and informative interview processes that get the most out of the limited time you have to meet with your potential future employees, while also maintaining best practises.
1. Prepare the space ahead of time
The human brain reacts differently to external stimuli which feels barren or sparse. Choosing your interview location can often lead to a different feel to the process, and can shape answers, interviewees, and even interviewers in ways they might not expect.
For example; if you’re interviewing for a creative position such as a graphic designer or some facets of marketing, a drab, stale office environment, peering out from behind a row of desks to a single chair in the middle in classical interview-from-a-movie style might not be the greatest idea.
Instead, use the location as a showcase for your company values. A fun-loving young tech startup might choose to have their interview as a sit-down in the employee break lounge, or an established bank might want to showcase their history, importance, and respectability. There’s nothing wrong with the old classics, but make sure that the job interview process fits the job.
2. Screen well, long before
The best way to guarantee a great interview process is to gear up long beforehand. If you know you’re going to be interviewing for a specific position, pre-screen candidates so that you’re not wasting your (or their) time.
The last thing you want to have as an employer is a reputation for an interview process from hell, or one where requirements or stipulations aren’t adequately screened. Failure to do so will mean that you’re spending several times longer than you should on applicants, and you run the risk of frightening fresh faces and wasting the time of the highly qualified.
3. Deviate from the traditional script
Everybody comes to an interview with a rote learned response to a few questions (also known as the ‘where do you see yourself in five years’ answer). It’s important to ask a few of these; it screens out the people who’ve put in the minimum effort for expected interview etiquette, but don’t lean too heavily on it.
Ask a few questions that come from a genuine place, to differentiate a qualified candidate from a perfect office fit. You’ll elicit a better response and ultimately end with a better hire.
4. Let people feel at ease
Interviews are intimidating, and unless you’re in a very specific forward-facing position, testing an employee’s nervousness isn’t going to do anything other than give you a lower quality of response. Greet them warmly, offer a drink of water so that they have something to hold, and do your best to make them feel at ease.
5. Discuss the company
Remember that the employee is interviewing you just as much as you’re interviewing them. Discuss the history of the company or the values it upholds, and quantify their responses as indicative of if they’d be a good hire. Give them some context and situate them in the present day, but let them talk about how they interpret the current standing of the company and how they’d fill a much-needed hole within it.
6. Don’t grill them
Setting somebody up to fail is the absolute worst way to conduct an interview, and violates just about every best practise in the book. Asking nothing but hard hitting questions in a row is going to shatter the illusion of your workplace as anything other than the most draconian of overlords. Instead, pepper the hard questions you really want answered alongside a few softballs which will allow people time to get their bearings and align with your interview procedure.
7. Look at the cracks
Before they come in, anybody can prepare an amazing resume. However, you’ll only be able to tell the people who actually do good work from the people who are just good at writing resumes by asking specific and appropriately challenging questions.
Ask about job history, but also ask about specific programs or responsibilities, who they would report to, and to what function or how long they did specific things. Don’t accuse people of lying, but note where people seem to have less expertise than their resume might otherwise state.
8. Easy to start, hard to finish
Ramp up the difficulty of your questions over time. We’re assuming that each candidate is a competent and well-rounded individual, and people function better once they feel like the role is within their realm of expertise. Ask a few questions that might not be too easy early on, but leave the big guns until people have ramped up enough to answer.
9. Be nice
As an added note, you’ll elicit the most out of people by talking to them like they’re human rather than a worker ant. Assign people to the interview process who are personable and can ascertain facts without resorting to standoffishness.You have to remember that even if it’s your fifth interview of the day, it’s their first and only one, so keep a positive, friendly tone throughout.
10. Budget energy
The most important thing about interviews is to have an opportunity for your interviewers to have downtime. Going through 20 candidates in a day means that you’ll be pushing people whose job it is to hire a perfect match to their absolute limit. You might not get the most out of their time if they’re counting milliseconds off the clock to their next break; people in those circumstances can let interviewees fall through the cracks or get further in the process than they should.
Attracting the right people with a great interview experience
All in all, interviews are as important for the potential employee as they are for the employer. While you may be figuring out whether this person has the appropriate skills and will be able to meet the challenges they’re going to be required to face, they’re trying to figure out whether your company is somewhere they’d really like to work. Making the interview process efficient, positive and supportive is the key to attracting (and keeping!) the right employees for your business.
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