Interviewing prospective employees is hard work. Apart from their resume and/or their test scores (depending on where you are at the hiring stage), your decision to recruit someone relies on how your interview goes with them in many respects.
Some of the long-held ideas about job interview guides are no longer valid. For instance, there is no such thing as a surprise question anymore. Thanks to sites like Glassdoor.com, job candidates can get a sense of your interview questions and prepare answers ahead of time.
As per a LinkedIn study, 49% of professionals follow companies on social media to stay updated about job vacancies. Be assured they are also keeping an eye out on what you look for in the potential employees.
With the wealth of company information available online, interested candidates can now routinely prepare for job interviews to the point where their responses immediately impress those interviewing them. However, there is a flip side.
According to Software Advice, 63% of prospective employees will not accept a job offer if they have a bad candidate experience. And with each vacancy costing the average company $500 per day, there is no way you want to contribute to a costly miss-hire.
Making the right call becomes even more challenging when you have never conducted interviews. You know the stakes are high, and you want to hire the best possible fit for the company without investing too many resources.
So if you are conducting your first job interview, keep this job interview guide handy to make every interview of yours a success until you have mastered conducting one. Let us begin:
An in-depth guide on conducting great first-time interviews
As an HR professional, we know how stressful it can be for you to build the perfect interview strategy, especially if this is your first time interviewing someone. Thankfully, there are a few proven tips that have worked consistently and will help you conduct a good interview:
1. Prepare a pre-interview checklist
Just like the job candidates prepare for the interview, you also need to do your homework and prepare a pre-interview checklist focusing on the essential parts of the job position. Start with studying the candidate's resume thoroughly.
Take note of anything you would like them to elaborate on during the job interview. Consult with the hiring manager to understand what they are looking for in a new hire. List all the qualities and qualifications to look for in the candidates you meet.
You can also browse through social media accounts to get an idea of who they are. Their LinkedIn profile, in particular, can give you information on their past employment in detail.
A balanced interview comprises both common and role-specific questions. Therefore, ensure the questions you ask to get them to elaborate on their qualifications while also giving you an insight regarding the potential fit with the company's culture.
In addition, be ready to answer any questions the candidates might have regarding the position or staff benefits. Conducting an interview gives you an excellent opportunity to promote your company and all it offers to prospective employees.
The only thing is to avoid asking overly personal questions that have anything to do with their marital status, age, religion, or political affiliation. Be sensitive.
2. Explain the entire hiring process
Instead of starting head-on by asking questions, provide some structure to the interview for the job candidate. For instance, begin by briefly explaining the company and job responsibilities. The length of the hiring process varies depending on the role.
Therefore, let them know your average timeline for filling such vacancies. Share the number of interview rounds they have to give. If there is a test involved, clearly tell the candidate what it will be about.
At the end of the interview, explain the next steps in the interview process and when they can expect to hear back. Research shows that 52% of candidates receive no communication in the 2-3 (or more) months after applying. Avoid making that mistake.
End the job interview with the candidate's questions. This allows them to ask questions about the position and the company.
3. Ask questions that put them in real situations
If you want to know how a job candidate makes decisions under pressure, instead of asking, "How do you deal with pressure?" give a situation to them.
For example, say, "It is 8 AM, and you have an important presentation to give, but it needs to be sent to your supervisor first. But for some reason, your email is not working. At the same time, your subordinate calls in sick and starts explaining certain things that need to be handled today. What do you do? How do you handle crises?"
Pick all your questions from real-life scenarios to understand how the candidate operates. Plus, such questions are harder to fake an answer to and prepare for.
4. Focus on your body language to put the interviewee at ease
At home or work, famous or not-so-famous, your body language speaks volumes about you. Whether you are uncomfortable, exasperated, or overly enthusiastic, that energy will rub off on the candidate and influence the job interview.
Whether you are doing a video interview or meeting the candidate face-to-face, here is what you should remember:
- Maintain eye contact to show them you are interested.
- Consider your posture. Avoid slouching. Sit upright to appear more alert.
- Talk less, listen more. You need to let them talk more to make an informed decision.
- Genuinely smile when you greet them and if you are pleased with what you are hearing.
Besides, break the ice with something of mutual interest. Or, maybe ask them where they went to school. Offer them water or coffee! Put them at ease.
5. Make notes during the interview
If you are speaking with several candidates in a short timeframe, taking notes will help you remember every interview you conduct and compare candidates to make a hiring decision. Use a notepad and pen to write during the interview and then type up the notes when you get free.
Here is a list of things to analyze a candidate on in the notes:
- Conceptual knowledge
- Communication clarity
- Information absorption
6. Learn about their career goals
Besides asking job role-specific questions, get a better understanding of the candidate's career goals. Ask them about their professional interests. Is there any certification they want to do? Is there any training program they want to attend? Asking such questions tells you what they expect regarding their professional development.
7. Allow them to ask you questions
Towards the end of the job interview, open the floor for them to ask you any questions they might have regarding the job role and the company. This helps them to evaluate whether or not they see the position as a good fit for them.
You can also throw in salary negotiation questions and answers if that is something they want to talk about at that point. On the other hand, it enables you to determine their level of interest in the job and understanding about the company.
7 common questions to ask when conducting an interview
Every corporate job vacancy, on average, attracts 250 resumes. That is a lot of resumes to sift through for an HR professional — not to forget the time and money hiring typically costs. To circle in the best candidates for the job, you must know how to design smart interview questions. Here are the top seven things you can ask:
1. What do you know about the company, and why do you want to work here?
You would think it is fairly common for candidates to do their homework and study the company before the job interview. However, that is not always the case. Some candidates may not even know the type of business the company engages in.
Through “why do you want to work at a startup”-type interview questions, you will quickly determine how much an applicant knows about the company and whether they are genuinely interested in the job.
2. What skills and strengths can you bring to the position?
Did the candidate apply for the vacancy after reading your job description, or did they blindly send their resume? This question will help you find that out. Prospective employees must think critically about how their abilities will benefit the team and company at large.
3. What are your biggest weaknesses?
This question is usually asked just after the previous one. The candidate must think of the various shortcomings that they have and be upfront about that. Their weaknesses do not necessarily have to be linked to the responsibilities they would take up in the new role.
Whatever their answer is, that should help you understand whether they are fit for the position. You cannot hire someone who has trouble delegating work because they are too controlling for the role of a marketing manager!
4. What does your current job role look like?
You can get this information from the resume, but hearing it straight from the candidate can uncover tidbits on what they actually do on a daily basis, any special projects they have worked on, and their dynamics with fellow employees.
5. Name a work accomplishment you are proud of.
With this question, you will get a better idea of the type of work the candidates have done previously. This line of interview questioning also allows them to showcase their strong qualities and any leadership skills they might have.
6. How would your colleagues describe you?
Ask the question to get a better sense about how the candidates see themselves in others' eyes. This should also reveal clues on their ability to work as a team. Are they quiet and reserved? Do they take charge of the project? Are they comfortably getting managed?
7. Tell me something about yourself which is not on your resume.
Sometimes, there are quirks about the candidates that you cannot see on the resume or the initial phone interview. They may seem a good fit on paper.
But it is only after you meet them and discuss the nitty-gritty of the job that you realize that they might not be an ideal fit for the company down the road.
There is no order to follow for asking these questions. Bring them up as and when you deem fit. Have a free-flowing conversation.
5 signs to look for in candidates when interviewing
When seeking prospective employees, you may notice a few red flags throughout the interview process. They can show up late for the first round of interview, speak ill about a past employer, give vague answers, and so on. This section discusses five signs you must look for to decide whether a candidate should be cut from the competition or moved to the next round:
1. Body language
Just like you need to keep your body language in check during the interview, you must watch out for the candidates' gestures, hand movements, eye contact, and overall posture. This can give you insight into how enthusiastic, comfortable, or disinterested they are in the interview.
Look for instances where the candidate has had trouble working with colleagues or supervisors in the past. Ask questions about how they handle pressure, prioritize work, and delegate tasks.
During the conversation, you will find areas where they have shown extreme interest. For instance, if you are interviewing a content marketer, the candidates might display their enthusiasm about running a lead capture program and disdain for social media management.
Their hand gestures and facial expressions should tell you how excited or unhappy they are with the specific types of jobs they do.
4. Types of questions they ask at the end of the interview
All candidates, who have done their homework, have questions about the job, company, and benefits they can expect. What kind of questions do they ask? Are they more interested to know about the leave policies? Are they eager to understand the job role in detail? Whatever their concerns, you will get an idea about their interest or disinterest.
5. Your intuition
Once the job interview is over, go over your notes and answer the following five questions before making a hiring decision:
- Can the candidate do the job?
- Is the candidate manageable?
- Is the candidate motivated enough to do the job?
- Is the candidate interested in learning new skills?
- Can the candidate adapt to the team for which they are being hired?
Make sure you look beyond the skills and how the prospective employees look on paper. Do not ignore the vibe of the person you interview.
Hiring the best people for the job is worthwhile.
Yes, rolling out job offers to ideal candidates will take some time, but if you have a proper process, that does take some pressure off recruitment.
But before you shortlist candidates for an interview, make sure you weed out the ones that do not fit the bill with proper assessment. Hopefully, this semi-structured interview guide will help you approach the process properly.
Using Adaface, you can optimize your initial screening process by 75% or more and narrow down candidates who performed well in the technical round. You can customize the test as per the job role. Explore our website today!