Interviewing style is not something you have or don’t have; it’s learned over time.
The struggles with interviewing are real, not only for the interviewee, but for the interviewer as well. With so much focus around the candidate’s interview and their preparation, one has to wonder, “What about the hiring manager?” How often do you see banner ads, articles or online tutorials for hiring managers on what questions to ask, how to ask them or tactics to counter balance all of the information available to candidates?
It may surprise you to learn how many organizations do not have a managerial development program, but even more eye-opening is the lack of interview guidance provided to managers. Perhaps you have found yourself in a similar situation where you had to develop your interviewing tactics as you went.
Whether you are an experienced interviewer or embarking on your first interview from the other side of the desk, here are some steps for turning interview chaos into interview confidence:
Define Your Purpose
Trying to figure out what you want to accomplish is a key factor in conducting a successful interview. Before you even begin your interview process, make sure that you know exactly what your expectations of the position are, what type of person you are looking for and what outcomes you would like to drive. Walking into an interview without these basic factors determined is not only putting you at a disadvantage, it is also unfair to the candidates interviewing for the opportunity.
You have to wonder if this actually happens, but trust me it happens more often than you think. Understanding the details of any vacant opportunity will help you build a structure behind your interview and make better use of your interview time.
Humanize the Job Description
I could write about job descriptions for days, but let’s keep this part simple. Hone in on your internal investigator and sift through all of the extra words for the relevant, key words and phrases that will make or break the position duties. For instance, in the job qualifications section think about the position and the necessities. Ask yourself, ‘Does the person in this role really need 8 years of experience under said title or are there certain traits, tasks, and specific experiences you are looking for from that experience?’ Highlight the integral qualifications that are absolutely necessary to be successful in the role.
Think about your deal breakers as they relate to the key responsibilities of the position. Just because this position and job description have “worked” for the last 25 years, does not mean that every word on the job description is relevant. I certainly hope the job description has been updated in the last 25 years, but if it hasn’t then the first step is to revise your job description.
Highlight Key Resume Factors
Have you ever thought of a resume serving as a formality with the same questions being asked? What if you could take key areas of interest, that again, relate directly to the job and ask questions that could quickly help you determine if that “past experience” is directly qualified for your needs? Imagine asking a question about the metrics the candidate was held accountable for that could help you determine if the candidate is successful in a metrics-driven environment.
Before you interview the candidate, try to narrow down the candidate’s resume to three key areas that you would like to probe further. Then, think about what response you are seeking from each of the areas. Don’t forget to have a purpose behind every question that directly relates to the resume; it will help you drive more value and better understand the candidate in the end.
Have Key Questions in Your Padfolio
Interview questions are just questions without a purpose in understanding the response. When was the last time you took a step back to think about why you ask certain questions and what response you are seeking? Candidates are prepared to answer many of the most common, stock questions and these responses carry limited value.
Instead, after humanizing the job description, create new questions that help you identify key competencies that a candidate must possess in order to thrive in the role. For instance, if the position you are interviewing for requires strong communication skills, I may ask a question about a time the candidate had to address a challenge through effective communication. Not only will I better understand how that particular candidate approaches a situation, I will also understand how they define effective communication and their methodology behind communicating with others.
With so much focus on company culture, it is more important now than ever to ask questions that will help you identify key personality traits that align best with your team and organization. Categorizing questions that you can pull from a master list at any time can be helpful in keeping a candidate engaged during the interview process.
Highlight Next Steps
Anticipating a candidate’s questions and providing next steps is a natural progression to concluding an interview. After the interview, are there any documents, assessments or references that should be prepared in order to make a determination on each candidate? Set a communication expectation for each candidate on when they can expect to hear from you or a designated colleague on a hiring decision.
Try not to forget that the candidate’s interview experience can tell them a lot about your organization; even if they are not the best fit for that particular opportunity doesn’t mean their experience should be negative! Don’t forget about the impression you are leaving on every candidate before, during and post interview.
Of course, there is a natural progression to conversation, but focus more on having a structured approach to your interview even if it may mean some preparation on your part. Next time your team is growing, give it a try and see how much relevant information you can withdraw with just having a little structure behind the interview.
Do you have a great interview format and structure? Feel free to share what you have found to be successful in the comment box below!