We all know what it’s like to be the candidate in an interview—it can be overwhelming, nerve wracking, and stressful. But not many people consider what it’s like on the other side of the desk. The interviewer can feel a lot of the same emotions when conducting an interview. Keep the following six tips in mind, and the interview process doesn’t have to be so daunting.
1. Prepare questions ahead of time
This is simple enough. Take some time before the interview to think about important questions. What do you need to know about the candidate? What do you want to know? Use these questions as a guide only. Over preparing can make the interview seem too structured and uncomfortable. Preparing ahead of time will give you great starters when the conversation hits a dead end. If you hit all of your “need-to-know” questions, then steer the conversation toward your “want-to-knows”.
2. Prepare candidates ahead of time
Short of handing over your interview questions, give the candidate as much information as possible to help them prepare for the interview. Your goal is to hire the best candidate for the job, not the best interviewee. Let them know how many people will be in the interview, how long to expect it to go, whether it’s informal or formal, etc. They will feel more comfortable, you will feel more comfortable, and the process will be smoother from welcoming handshake to parting handshake. It’s also a good idea to include a member of your team who will work closely with the candidate. They will have valuable input in what questions are pertinent, as well as how they think the candidate fares.
3. Keep things conversational
Having a conversational tone can really set both the interviewer and interviewee at ease. A conversation will encourage the candidate to relax, while making a little more room for their personality. Use your prepared questions to guide where the conversation heads, not dictate it. If a response is played out, take that as an opportunity to move on to the next question. Just be sure you hit all of your “must-know” questions before the candidate leaves.
4. Omit distractions
Take a few minutes to limit the possibility of distractions. Turn off your phone, silence any notification alerts from emails, texts, or other forms of communication. You should also choose a quiet, isolated location free of noise. An interview conducted with distractions will just be difficult for you, as the interviewer, to focus on the responses of the candidate. As a result, you may come off as uninterested in the candidate, and create unnecessary unease and nervousness.
5. Listen intently
It’s important to listen intently to everything the candidate has to say. It’s a good idea to have your prepared questions printed ahead of time. Leave enough space below each to jot down notes. Making notes gives the interviewee the perception that what s/he is saying is important. This encourages them and provides a sense of confidence. Don’t go overboard with your note taking, however. It’s important to make eye contact, nod, and reinforce with small verbal cues.
6. Allow for silence
Most likely, you will ask questions the candidate expected to hear. The responses to these should come easily for them, with little “think” time. However, there are likely going to be questions they were not prepared for. It’s important to allow some silence so they can gather their thoughts. Don’t rush to the next question. If the silence lasts more than five seconds, it’s ok to reword your question at that point, or ask it in another way.
If you use these six tips for your next interview, things will go smoothly, and you’ll have a better chance at finding the best candidate for your practice.