Guidelines for Effective Interviewing
Interviewing is one of the critical elements in selecting the best-fit candidate for a position. Here are five guidelines for conducting an effective interview.
1. Plan in advance.
Planning is the key to conducting a successful interview. It should not be an “off-the-cuff” activity. You should invest almost as much time planning the interview as the amount of time you schedule for conducting it.
Before you can start interviewing, you must first develop a profile of the ideal candidate that describes the specific attributes—skills, abilities, achievements, habits, attitudes, and behaviors—someone must have to be successful in the position.
Carefully review the profile and the candidate’s résumé. Note the elements you want to explore and the information you want to learn. Then, prepare the questions you need to ask. If you don’t prepare them in advance and write them down, you will forget to ask them.
2. Control the environment.
The environment can influence the outcome of an interview. It needs to take place in a private setting, without interruptions and distractions. The objective is to put the candidate at ease. Interviewing is a stressful event for many people. You shouldn’t make it worse.
If you are conducting a phone interview, make sure there won’t be any interruptions. Also, unless there is more than one party involved in the interview at your end, don’t conduct the interview over the speakerphone. Many people are uncomfortable and guarded with their comments when they are on speakerphone.
During a one-on-one interview, don’t sit behind a desk directly facing the candidate. Sit at a coffee table or meeting room table. Clear the table of any material other than what you’ll need for the interview.
3. Use appropriate questions.
The interview should be conducted in a structured, yet conversational manner. It is not an interrogation of a hostile witness. “Tell me about…” “What…” and “How…” questions get the prospect talking…the objective of the interview. “Why…” or “Why is that?” questions will drill down on an area. But, they suggest that justification or defence is necessary and place more pressure on people. So, use them carefully. Your goal is to understand the person—not to intimidate.
4. Maintain a relaxed atmosphere.
The interview should not be an adversarial encounter. Putting pressure on people causes them to clam up, not open up. One of the objectives of the interview is to expose hidden issues. That won’t happen when the candidate is feeling pressure and views you as the enemy. The more comfortable they are with you, the more likely they are to reveal their real thoughts and feelings.
5. Provide equal time.
Allow time for the candidate to ask questions. Just as you are sizing up the candidate, the candidate is sizing up you and the job. Allowing time for and encouraging the candidate to ask questions allows the candidate time to gather whatever information he or she needs in order to make a decision should you make a job offer. Additionally, questions are often revealing and may expose an aspect of the candidate not explored.