How to Conduct an Interview: 7 Tips

A hiring manager using tips for how to interview someone.

The interview process is a test with two proctors: the candidate and the employer. Both are sizing the other up and testing each other out. If things go wrong on either side, the possible consequences of failure may be greater for the interviewer than for the interviewee.

According to Monster’s Work Watch Report, 46% of job seekers say they have declined a job offer due to an interviewer’s attitude or behavior. Meanwhile, the number of negative hiring reviews shared by job seekers on social media has increased sharply in recent years, and nearly half of negative candidate experience reviews are focused on bad interviewer behavior.

The stakes are high. You only have about an hour to make a good first impression on the candidate and obtain the critical information you need about their skills, experience, and principles. The following seven tips can guide you through how to conduct an interview to gather the insights you need to hire qualified candidates and burnish your employer brand simultaneously.

1. Determine the Interview Format

Before you begin contacting possible interviewees, map out the number and sequence of interviews you will conduct with candidates. Decide if you will conduct some or all interviews remotely, if you will require in-person interviews, how long each interview will last, and whether you will ask applicants to make presentations or share portfolios during the process.

Using an interview committee will increase your likelihood of selecting a candidate who will become a valued member of your organization and an asset to the team. Consider including the manager who will be directly supervising the employee, representatives from departments they will likely work most closely with, and potential peers.

2. Create an Interview Script

Once you’ve determined how long each phase of your interview process will take, you can use your job post to craft a script for each phase. If you don’t have a job description, then list the key responsibilities of the position based on the most recent annual review of the last employee who held the position and create a list of questions that relate to those responsibilities. Reach out to employees who will interact with the new hire to get feedback on your list.

Your script should include behavioral questions designed to tap into a candidate’s potential to shoulder some of the tasks and dilemmas they will likely face in the role. You can ask for specific examples of past performance and behavior by beginning with phrases such as “tell me about a time when you.”

3. Review the Candidate’s Resume Before the Interview

This may seem obvious, but by preparing your interview questions and reviewing the interviewee’s resume, you’re showing the candidate that you’ve taken the time to ensure a productive interview. It will also help you develop interview questions that are tailored toward the candidate.

4. Outline the Structure at the Start of the Interview

At the beginning of the interview, provide a roadmap for your meeting, including how much of their time you need. Begin with a brief description of the company and the role’s responsibilities. Let the applicant know that you will be asking job-related questions, followed by an opportunity for the candidate to ask questions. Providing this structure early on sets up the interview parameters, keeps you both focused, and gives the candidate an idea of what to expect.

5. Listen More Than You Speak

Too often interviewers dominate the conversation and fail to learn enough about the candidate in front of them to ascertain whether they have the skills and potential to do well in the open role. Not only will failing to give candidates room to talk prevent you from asking relevant follow-up questions, but it will also give job seekers the impression that you aren’t truly interested in their skills, values, and capabilities. Try to talk no more than 20% of the time.

6. Remember That Your Actions Reflect on the Organization

It may be tempting to try to ease job applicants’ nerves by making jokes or behaving in an overly casual manner, but the best approach is to adopt a polite and professional attitude without getting too chummy. Keep all your questions job-related. If you spend the interview chatting about all the irrelevant things you and the candidate have in common, you may make a hiring decision because you liked the candidate, or worse, based on unconscious bias instead of on the candidate’s qualifications for the job. Using a script and asking the same questions in the same sequence to every applicant can help maintain the proper tone.

7. Avoid the Mistakes Most Likely to Prompt Negative Candidate Reviews

A rude, disinterested, or disorganized interviewer, one who fails to ask the right questions or wastes a candidate’s time, can prompt job seekers to ghost employers, decline job offers, and leave scathingly negative reviews on social media. But there are plenty of other mistakes that can create a bad impression and should be avoided if you want to craft the kinds of candidate experiences that are most likely to appeal to top performers.

Some of the most common factors that job seekers cite when asked about negative candidate experiences include:

  • Failing to follow up and keeping candidates informed of next steps
  • Making sure the interviewer appears on camera during remote interviews
  • Asking candidates to perform time-consuming work tasks, especially if they suspect you are trying to solicit their labor for free
  • Taking up too much of the candidate’s time with an overly demanding hiring process

Preparation and professionalism at every phase of interviewing can help ensure that your next hiring process culminates in success and a positive candidate experience for all applicants.

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