Best Interview Practices for Hiring Managers
Recruitment processes in organizations often take a long time. First, the Human Resources department or the hiring managers would have to go over the candidates of the job for initial screening. Then several rounds of interviews will follow until they are finally able to pick out the best candidate for the job.
In any hiring process, the interview stage is almost a given. In fact, it is seen as one of the most important parts of the hiring process. The final hiring decisions are made after the decision makers have met with the candidates and talked to them personally, on a face to face basis.
However, there is more to interviews and interviewing than just inviting the candidate to appear at a designated time and place, and asking questions that are listed on a sheet of paper. Interviewers have a bigger task than to just deliver the questions, listen to the answers, and evaluate them. They also have to pay attention on how they conduct the interview in order to be able to say that it is effective, and the hiring process is successful.
In this guide, we will take a look at the best practices for hiring managers and employers when they conduct job interviews.
BEST INTERVIEW PRACTICES FOR HIRING MANAGERS BEFORE THE INTERVIEW
It is not just the jobseekers who will be interviewed that should be prepared. The ones asking the questions should also do some preparation of their own.
Interviewers should also do their homework on the following:
- The nature of the job or position that they are filling up. This will help them formulate questions later on. Read the job description and understand the specific demands on the job.
- The qualifications of the candidates. Often, when there are a lot of applicants for a single position, hiring managers do not bother to go over their CVs and read their credentials. You should not do this. Read the CVs and make appropriate notes on parts or areas that you need clarification on.
- Background check of the candidates. These days background checks are quickly becoming a basic requirement. Companies conduct background checks of the applicants even before calling them in for an interview. Look at the list of references provided by the applicants and contact them. They are good sources of information that you can base your questions on. You can also base your background check on
Develop interview questions
It is time to let your natural curiosity come into play. While going over the documents submitted by the applicant, you may be curious about some points. You can use them as starting points for your questions.
It is recommended that the questions you prepare be open-ended. That way, you can easily ask follow-up questions to get more information. As much as possible, keep the questions professional or job related. In some areas, it may be inevitable to venture into personal territory. If you have to, make sure the questions you develop are not intrusive or offensive.
Set a good time and place for the interview
It should be a place where you are comfortable talking. Often, hiring managers choose the place of business of the company to be the site for the interview. This is actually preferable, since it gives you the opportunity to observe the applicant in your place of business.
Yes, interviewers should also take the time out to practice their interviewing skills. It’s not good for the company if the interviewee will end up thinking that the person interviewing him or her is inept or incompetent.
Unprepared interviewers give a bad impression of the company or organization, and the interviewee may feel disappointed that the former did not make an effort to prepare. It is a reality that some interviewers only go over the CVs of the applicant for the first time during the interview itself. This ends up talking too much of the interview time.
Job interviews are devised to assess job applicants and let them know about the job and the working conditions in the company. However, that is not all there is to it. This is probably the reason why there are interviewers who think that the applicant should make the effort to impress them, and they do nothing more than ask the questions and wait to be impressed.
A job interview is also a way for the company or organization to create goodwill, regardless of whether the applicant is hired or not. You are also representing the company during the interview, so you should also take note of how you carry yourself.
Also included in your preparation as an interviewer is to:
- Choose your outfit with care. You have to come across as professional, so you should dress appropriately, preferably in keeping with the culture of the organization. Early on, you are setting an example for the applicants, so you may decide to stick to the dress code of the company.
- Be well-groomed and show good hygiene. You have to look neat and sharp. Use accessories sparingly. Keep in mind that the star of this particular show is the job applicant, not the interviewer.
BEST INTERVIEW PRACTICES FOR HIRING MANAGERS DURING THE INTERVIEW
Let’s now take a look at what happens in the actual interview.
Start with small talk.
In any job interview, nerves are a given. Job applicants, no matter how “seasoned” or experienced they are in going to job interviews, will still feel nervous. Any effort that you make towards making them comfortable will be highly appreciated.
Starting with small talk is one way of doing this. It is not really advisable to immediately launch into the hard and tough questions the moment you have taken your seats. If you make the interviewee comfortable first, you are likely to get honest and candid answers to your questions.
Do not make the mistake of being too chummy or friendly. This might give the wrong impression to the candidate. You want the candidate to see you as someone in authority who is interviewing him, not as a pal or a buddy that he can joke around with. Lines must still be drawn. There is also the danger that you might find the candidate very friendly, and you will end up hiring him because you like his personality, even if he is not a good fit for the job. This will definitely cloud your judgment.
Ask the questions, as planned.
Take a look at the list of questions you have developed, or the talking points you have made note of. Ask the questions, as planned. It is all right to veer away from time to time, especially if you have follow up questions or points that you want the applicant to expound on.
Do not just ask questions, though; you have to ask the right questions. Meaning, the questions should be related to the job. It is easy to get sidetracked during the actual interview, especially when you get new information supplied by the applicant. However, you should stick to those that are related to the job. It is all right to venture into personal territory, as long as the questions you ask can be directly traced or have an effect to the performance of the functions of the job.
Try to ask the unexpected. There are tried and tested questions, yes, but you may actually veer away from those, and put a spin on your questions. However, do not ask anything strange or ridiculous. They should still be sensible and relevant questions. In addition, you can think about asking a brain teaser.
Observe body language.
Interviewers should not focus solely on the words being spoken by the applicant. In fact, a person’s body language says more than what they are actually saying. An interviewer can easily pick up tell-tale signs of the applicant not being entirely honest with his answers. Verbal ticks, mannerisms and offhand gestures by the interviewee actually say a lot about his or her personality.
This is why it is advisable to maintain eye contact with the interviewee. Look at them when they are talking, and even when you are asking your questions. You will certainly observe some nonverbal signs if you pay attention.
Let the candidate do most of the talking.
As an interviewer, you ought to listen more than you talk. Some interviewers end up monopolizing the interview time by doing all the talking. Remember that the interview is about the applicants, so they should be the ones doing most of the talking. Let the applicant fully respond to the questions. Do not cut them off in the middle of answering, because this will break their stride, and you may end up not getting the answers that will help you evaluate more objectively.
The rule of thumb is that the candidate should spend 90% of the interview time talking. The remaining 10% is for the interviewer. Clearly, the stage should be for the interviewer and not the hiring manager.
In the 90% of the interview time that the candidate is talking, you should be listening. Listen, not just hear. If you listen, you will be able to take note of answers that you can ask follow up questions on. This makes the interview process more flexible and dynamic, instead of you just sticking to a script.
Allow the candidate to ask his or her questions.
Set aside a time where you encourage the candidates to ask any questions that they may have. This is effective in putting the candidates further at ease, because you are implying that you look at them as an equal and that your main objective is finding a perfect match for your requirements.
Ask questions because you are truly curious about the answer, not because you are looking for a specific answer. If you are looking for specific answers, your objectivity will be shot, and the interview is a failure before it has even begun.
Keep in mind that an interview is a conversation. It is not an interrogation or an inquisition. You should not force the answers from the interviewee. You should encourage the flow of thoughts and let them volunteer the information without you forcing them into it.
BEST INTERVIEW PRACTICES FOR HIRING MANAGERS AFTER THE INTERVIEW
The interview should not end with you just dismissing the applicants and asking them to leave the room and wait for your company to call. There are still some important points that you should keep in mind.
Talk about your company.
At the end of the interview, you also owe it to the applicant to talk about your company, particularly its brand and culture. This includes the benefits and opportunities that will be available to the candidate if he or she is hired. You have to leave a good and lasting impression of your company to the applicant, so they will still think kindly about it even if they are not hired.
Never make promises to the applicant.
It is possible that, during the interview, you were so impressed and blown away by the applicant. Unless you are the one who is making the final hiring decision, do not tell the applicant that he is the ideal candidate for the job, or that he pretty much has it in the bag. After all, you have a recruitment process that you must adhere to.
This may also cause very high expectations on the part of the applicant. What if you tell the applicant that he may get the job, but subsequent checks and reviews of his documents show that he is not qualified? This will not only cause unnecessary grief for the applicant, it will also put you and the entire company in a bad light.
Thank the applicant.
Thank the candidate for expressing her interest and desire to work with your company, and for coming out to attend the interview.
EFFECTIVE INTERVIEW QUESTIONS (AND WHAT NOT TO ASK)
If you look online, there is a wealth of source materials containing interview questions that you can ask during a job interview depending on the position you are interviewing for. While some are already too overused to be effective, others are actually very effective in helping you get to know your job applicants more. Interviewers often begin by giving the floor to the interviewee, letting them talk about themselves briefly. From there, they will start asking their questions.
An effective question is one that can give you deeper insight into the character and capabilities of the candidate. It is one that you can actually expound on. Open-ended questions are more effective, because they do more than draw out “yes” or “no” answers.
Some of the effective questions that you should consider asking the interviewee are:
- Describe the best and worst jobs you ever had.
- What motivates you to do a good job?
- How do you motivate others to perform in their jobs?
- What’s the biggest challenge or risk you have encountered on a job so far?
- Talk about the leadership roles you have assumed in the past and your best accomplishments as a leader in those roles.
It is a good idea to ask questions that are scenario-based. ‘What If’ questions will give you an idea how they will react to, and deal with, certain situations and circumstances.
These behavioral questions are now deemed to be more informative than direct questions. Examples are:
- Tell me about how you acquired your (particular) skill.
- Tell me about a time that you felt the most effective in your job.
- If you get this job, what are the first 5 things that you will do?
Try to steer clear of the usual “where do you see yourself in n years” and “what are your strengths and weaknesses”. There is nothing wrong with these questions, but they have already become too common and overused, and it is possible that the job interviewee already anticipates them and has memorized their answers.
You should also avoid asking questions that will put the applicant on the spot and run the risk of breaking any laws. For example, if a candidate is a former employee of a rival company, do not ask for trade secrets or inside information on his previous employer. Not only is this illegal, it also speaks of bad taste and will cast shade on the integrity of your company and brand.
Ridiculous questions also shouldn’t have a place during interviews. Questions such as “if you were a tree, what type of tree would you be?” will only make you look like silly. True, you may have a motive for asking that, but this is not a psychological exam, and the candidate you are interviewing may not take you seriously after you have asked that question.
Asking personal questions is also something to avoid. Asking if a candidate has a good relationship with his partner, or a harmonious family relationship, may come across as too intrusive. Asking about the candidate’s dating history is also considered to be crossing the line.
Interviewing is both an art and a science. Not everybody can do it. Hiring managers are also expected to develop interviewing skills if they hope to be able to conduct successful job interviews, which will help identify the best candidates and result to effective recruitment and hiring.
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