15 Solid Tips to Conduct Successful Interviews
Published on December 7th, 2022
Your company has been doing well for quite some time now and you are planning to expand the team. Or, one of your teams needs a good replacement and you want to make sure business runs seamlessly as ever. Either ways, you want to add stellar talent to your organisation.
Studies show that top talent is available in the market for only 10 days before they get chosen. So, you need to act fast and attract the right talent. One of the key steps towards choosing the ideal candidate is the interview and it needs to be conducted effectively for the company to benefit the most.
Oftentimes an ignored skill, interviewing is an art in itself. There’s a lot at stake in an interview: Important insights to be collected, capabilities to be assessed, job to be canvassed to the candidate and a promising future guaranteed for them. It’s easy to think we are all masters of questioning someone, but to pose focused questions and determine the candidate’s suitability for the role and organization is a whole other game.
In this article, we will take you through how important it is to conduct an effective interview and 15 time-tested and expert-recommended tips to conduct a spectacular interview.
What Makes a Good Interview
We have all been interviewed at one point or the other. You would have been nervous for one or many interviews, wondering if you were smart enough for the role, what questions the interviewer might ask, and preparing impressive answers to the potential interviewer’s questions. The more important the job, the higher the level of preparation and anxiety that comes with it.
But, in a few instances, you would have had an interview that felt like talking to a trustworthy, friendly acquaintance who took time to understand, knew facts about you, and engaged in a meaningful and natural conversation to get to know you more. The calm and amiable demeanor of the interviewer calmed your nerves, their preparedness gave you a good impression and their promise of a future seemed genuine.
Even if you didn’t get the job, you would have spoken to your friends and family about the company and how well they treated you. That’s exactly what an effective interview looks like.
The Two Key People and Their Roles
In an interview, there are two key people and both of them have important roles to play. You, the interviewer, need to get to gauge the skills and personality of the candidate and determine if they will be a valuable addition to the team. Checking if the candidate fulfills at least most requirements in the job description is an important role of the interviewer, so that, if hired, the candidate actually performs at the job.
On the other hand, the candidate is keen on proving they are an asset to your company and also forming impressions about the type of people he will be working with. Although one person doesn’t constitute the whole company, an interviewer is certainly viewed as the reflection of the entire company.
The candidate’s role, broadly, is to provide as accurate a picture as possible that highlights their previous achievements, demonstrated competence, application of skills, and the results they have earned for their previous employer.
Why is an Interviewer’s Role Important?
The interviewer is the main point of contact between them and the candidate’s future team. So, it’s important for the interviewer to assess the experience and competencies the candidate brings to the table, their natural proclivities, strengths, and attitude.
A good yardstick would be to check if they have the attributes of the 3 high-performing employees holding the same job role. Proven experience and a meaningful recounting of their achievements will often give an idea about the resourcefulness of the candidate.
Measuring critical parameters of the job, while also making note of any potential red flags is a crucial task of the interviewer. Striking a balance between noticing every single flaw and ignoring a few trivial flaws can go a long way in finding a candidate who is a good performer but not perfect.
An ideal interviewer makes the candidate feel at ease, engages them in a natural, yet focused conversation, evaluates holistically, and keeps their promise made at the end of the interview.
Ways the Interviewer Can Influence the Flow of the Interview
The interviewer has the power to navigate the interview into a productive and positive experience for both the company and the candidate. The techniques you follow, questions you ask, and mannerisms you exhibit can either make or break the interview experience.
Here are a few ways you can direct the interview’s flow:
- Confidence of the Interviewee
Your micro-expressions, sitting posture, and gestures have a lot of psychological meaning to them. Since the candidate is all nervous and looking up to you for approval, all your gestures can send signals to them about your level of interest in the interview.
For example, drumming your fingers on the table may seem like you are getting impatient. Tapping your foot constantly may show that you have someplace else to be and you want to leave. Scratching the back of your head, or face can mean that you are bored.
Checking your phone or answering an email may seem like you don’t care about the interviewee. All these actions only hamper the confidence of the interviewee and make them feel like they are doing well.
However, positive actions have a polar opposite effect. Taking notes attentively, using the candidate’s information to ask meaningful questions, summarizing the candidate’s responses, nodding and assuring gestures, pleasant facial expressions, and attentive listening are a few confidence-boosting gestures you can make as an interviewer.
Playing a pivotal role as the interviewer, you have the ability to influence how you make your candidate feel. Note to remember: a candidate will always appreciate you for making them feel heard, important, and valued.
- Line of Questioning
Asking what you can read from the candidate’s resume is an utter waste of time. The resume can be a good conversation starter and navigator. However, your line of questioning has to be directed towards understanding how the candidate operates in a professional setting, what motivates them, how they react to difficult situations, and the way they handle tasks at work.
A focused set of questions will reveal the candidate’s actual capability, domain knowledge, and skills to collaborate with the team. This is important for an interviewer to do justice to their role.
- Determine the Personality Traits of Interviewees
It’s no surprise that we can tell a lot about a person by how they react or respond to a situation. Although their demeanor may hint at their nature, an interviewer can gauge the candidate’s personality by making them recount past experiences, giving real-life situations the candidate wouldn’t have expected, and asking for their responses can open doors to their priorities.
Their adaptability can be determined by their response to changes in their team, working methods, and style. You can test their judgment with the difficult choices and decisions they have had to make. Measure their initiative by asking about the opportunities they grabbed and let go.
Gauge their tolerance and professionalism by enquiring about a time they had to work with someone completely different from them. Want to understand how good they are with people? Invite them to share an experience where they had to resolve serious conflicts. Check their time and task management skills with how they met competing deadlines.
- Be Your Company’s Brand Ambassador
Another important task of an interviewer is to be a brand ambassador of the company. While there are so many competing organizations who might want your candidate, they have chosen to meet with you to see if the fit is right. If they are suitable for the job, your duty is to win them over by showcasing how your company is a great place to work.
By understanding what the candidate is looking for and showing them your company will cater to their professional aspirations while assuring a healthy environment to work with, you can significantly increase the chances of the candidate joining your team.
The candidate may have questions about the company’s benefits, perks of the role, working style, etc. Giving a realistic yet positive response to the candidate’s questions not only assures them that they have made the right choice, but it also avoids any chance for disappointment after joining the company.
When you communicate genuinely, you come off as a trustworthy person, which is essential for a candidate to determine whether to join your team or not.
Top 15 Tips for a Successful Interview
A successful interview is a composite whole of many significant elements. Carrying out each step is essential but, adjusting to the flow of the interview and adapting to it makes all the difference.
Here are 15 tips for a successful interview:
- Before the Interview: Setting the fundamentals right is the first step toward conducting a successful interview. It all begins with proper planning, forethought, and conscious effort. Get familiarized with the job description. When in doubt, contact your HR. Make a note of whom the interviewee will report to, and who are the key stakeholders they will interact with. Understand all roles, and responsibilities the job holder is required to have and make a thorough assessment of all must-have competencies for the job.
- Prepare a set of questions: Get a list of focused, behavioral assessment questions ready and use them as the common yardstick for all candidate interviews. Standardizing questions allows room for an objective assessment of candidates. However, you can divert from the set questions and go with the flow from time to time.
- Structure time: Break down the entire interview duration into segments and have a set time frame for completing each segment. Although you don’t have to make it airtight, having a rough time skeleton helps you focus on what’s important.
- Have a one-way interview before: It’s impossible to interview every applicant. Interview only the most suitable candidates by eliminating others with a preliminary one-way interview, personality test, and domain-based assessment.
- Consult with the candidate: Since a candidate has an integral role to play, they need to be comfortable in the interview setting. Contact them well in advance, and set a mutually convenient date and time so that the candidate is completely in the moment.
- During the Interview: D-Day is here and you need to make the right decision. There are several candidates waiting in line for you, but remember that they get to interact with you once. So, make the most of the interview by adopting the following tips.
- Maintain a congenial approach: A smile, warm greeting, and a firm handshake make a great first impression and set the tone for a professional discussion. Maintain consistent eye contact, avoid crossing your arms and ensure positive body language throughout the interview.
- Stay attentive: People can always tell if you are no longer interested in the conversation. Your nods, ‘umm’ and ‘oh’ give your disinterest away if not done sincerely. It’s common to lose focus in a long discussion. Take a moment to pause and bring yourself to the moment. Ask pertinent questions, and ensure you aren’t completely off track. Remember your purpose and listen with intent.
- Give situational judgment questions: See how a candidate will perform in real-life situations by giving them real-life and on-the-job situations they will have to face from time to time. Gauge their natural approach to a problem, tendency to solve and methods applied. This is a good indicator of both critical thinking and people skills.
- Check authenticity: Start with broad and descriptive questions in the beginning and work your way through the interview. Reserve the ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions for the final round. Ask questions that ascertain the curiosity, commitment, tenacity, confidence, willingness to learn, and motivation of the candidate. When the candidate divulges important information, remember to follow up with pertinent questions. Steer clear of obvious or private questions.
- Listen and Observe: Notice inadvertent behavior and red flags of the candidate from their body language and responses. If the candidate speaks too fast and shifts subjects constantly, they might have something to hide. Observe how they handle silence. Do 80% listening and 20% talking. Ask your set of questions first, before detailing the role to the candidate. This will help you gauge the fairness of the candidate’s response. Keep an eye on body language as it denotes suppressed emotions and general behavior. Slouching can mean low self-esteem, sitting on the edge of the seat may mean eagerness, playing with the pen signals disinterest, staring implies rudeness, and chopping hand movements denotes authoritative behavior.
- Towards the End: As the interview draws to a close, you need to wind up the discussion in a formal, professional, and convincing manner, so as to give hope to the candidate, appreciate them for what went right and thank them for their time. Here are a few other things you need to do.
- Summarise: Take time to summarize the entire discussion, highlighting specific information shared by the candidate and responses to deal-breaking questions.
- Clarify doubts: Offer to answer any questions the candidate has and give genuine answers. You may often come across questions concerning compensation, career path, growth, key performance metrics, engagement programs in the company, and the team they will work with. Ensure to have an answer to their questions or follow up with answers after the interview.
- Give good feedback: Appreciate the candidate for their performance, highlight their strengths, and wish them good luck.
- Promise and follow-up: Make sure to inform them how and when you will get in touch after the interview. It’s absolutely important to follow up even if the candidate is not selected. 77% of candidates want to hear good news on the phone and bad news over email. Inform the candidate of when they can expect feedback and through what means. This sets clear expectations. Follow through on your promise with a decent follow-up message.
- Send a post-interview feedback questionnaire: Share a post-interview feedback questionnaire with the candidate to gauge how their overall candidate experience was. This will help to increase internal process efficiency.
What Does a Good Interviewer Do After the Interview?
A good interviewer makes notes and records their impressions of the candidate immediately after the interview. Afterward, they have a discussion with their team managers to relive the interview, synthesize findings, compare with other candidates and determine which candidate is a good fit for the team. Another good practice is to contact references and enquire before making the final decision.
It’s important for the interview to be a mutually rewarding experience for both the interviewer and the interviewee. Hence, treating the candidate like a dignified professional you’ll soon be working with offers ample chance to get to know them, assess their potential and see if they will be a perfect fit. After all, a good interview is a good chance to get to know yourself and the candidate, you’re interviewing and it’s important to do it right.
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