How to Conduct an Interview and Impress Top Candidates
By: Roberta Matuson
Learning how to conduct an interview so you can impress and hire top people is critical for business growth and success. Interviewing may seem like the easiest part of the recruitment process. That is, until you find that the people you want to hire have no interest in working for you.
Interviewing is a two-way street. You’re talking with candidates to see if they are the right match for your company; at the same time, they are looking at you and deciding if you are right for them.
Top candidates are always in demand and may require a little more effort on your part to get them to agree to join your organization. Here are some factors to consider when conducting an interview that will impress the best.
Location, location, location -- Just like in real estate, location matters. Interviewing a candidate on the shop floor during peak working hours may backfire. Yes, it’s important for the candidate to see the physical space they will be required to work in, but this doesn’t mean they need to compete for your attention with loud equipment humming all around.
Clear out a clean space in an office that preferably has a door or use a conference room when interviewing candidates. This will enable you to have an uninterrupted conversation with a candidate who is giving up his or her time that day for you.
Wait until the second interview before parading them around the rest of the workplace, so as not to distract your employees more than necessary.
Silence your phones -- Every movie theatre these days reminds patrons to silence their phones. Now if only we could show this clip to every hiring manager just before they step in the room to interview their next candidate.
Candidates know exactly where they stand in the pecking order when an interviewer answers his or her cell phone while conducting an interview. The applicant sits there calmly thinking, “This guy has no respect for my time. Is this really someone I want to work for?” The interviewer continues to book his tee time on the golf course while the candidate plans his exit.
The candidate’s time is as valuable as your time. Silence your phones or risk being placed immediately into voicemail the next time you attempt to call an applicant back for another interview.
Ask the right questions for the right reasons -- I’ve trained thousands of hiring managers on how to conduct an effective interview. The comment I hear most often after our session is, “Oh, now I know why I’m asking these questions!”
Going down a list of interview questions and simply checking them off as you go will yield little more than a completed list -- unless you know why you are asking a particular question.
Here’s what I mean by this. Asking someone who will be working alone how they feel about working in a team is simply a waste of time. Top candidates will not be impressed by your stock questions. Instead, ask them to describe a situation where they had to make a difficult decision at work, when they were the only employee working on that shift. Now you’ve got their attention and respect.
Define exactly what you are looking for prior to beginning the interviewing process and select your questions accordingly. By doing so, you’ll impress those candidates who know a good interviewer when they see one.
Be truthful -- Top candidates usually do their homework before arriving at an interview. They have a fairly good idea about how well your company is doing and the challenges you are currently facing. In fact, in some cases, they know exactly why the position they are interviewing for is vacant.
You should be prepared for every possible interview question a candidate might ask you, especially if the answer may not exactly be what you think they want to hear.
Top candidates are generally looking for new challenges. Companies that appear to be perfect may be of no interest to them. Be truthful when describing the job and the state of your organization. By doing so, you’ll open up a dialogue that will impress top candidates.
Be prepared -- Top candidates are in demand and can choose which teams they want to play for. Preparation matters.
Sitting there watching an interviewer going through a pile of resumes in search of yours can be a bit unsettling. Savvy candidates will immediately realize how unprepared an interviewer actually is and may respond by looking for a way to quickly end the interview.
When scheduling interviews, leave at least 10 minutes in between appointments so you are fully prepared to engage the candidate who is now in front of you. You’ll be more relaxed and so will they.
Do what you’ll say you’ll do -- Nothing deflates the enthusiasm of a candidate more than waiting for a phone call that never comes when promised. When conducting interviews, don’t make commitments you are unprepared to keep, as that will tarnish your company’s reputation as a top employer.
Keep your calendar handy when conducting an interview so you can immediately reserve time on your calendar to get back to a candidate as promised. Do so even if you don’t have an answer regarding their candidacy.
Most will be impressed and may refer others to your organization even if they are not hired.
Interviewing to impress and hire top workers takes effort. However, the rewards associated with surrounding yourself with top talent is well worth the investment.