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A source of anxiety for many, it’s no wonder the query, “How to do well in an interview” brings up pages and pages of search results. Job seekers can browse articles with interview tips and tricks for hours on end, or until they feel sufficiently prepared to face the hiring manager with confidence. All this to say, there’s no shortage of interview advice out there for candidates – but what if you’re the one doing the hiring?

The good news is, conducting an effective interview isn’t as daunting a task as it seems. Remember, the goal is to have a two-way conversation allowing you to get to know the candidate, and the candidate to get to know you and your organization. Sounds pretty simple when you put it that way, doesn’t it?

With the help of this brief guide, you’ll learn some of the tactics professional recruiters use to attract talent to their organization, ask effective questions, conduct a successful interview and make a great hire.

 

BEFORE WE EVEN GET TO THE INTERVIEW…

There isn’t going to be an interview for you to conduct if no one applies to your job posting, so let’s start there.

  • To ensure you get the calibre of applicants you want, it’s important to write a detailed job posting, including all pertinent information about the position that a potential candidate would likely want to know (job description, job requirements, location, compensation and, of course, how to apply).
  • Once you’ve crafted your masterpiece, you’ve got to figure out where to post it. If your first thought was Kijiji or Craigslist, you need to pay extra close attention to what we’re going to say next. The type of role you’re hiring for will help determine which platform is best for you to advertise it on. Beyond just LinkedIn, Indeed, the Facebook Job Board and yes, even Craigslist, some industries (for example, accounting) have industry specific job boards used exclusively by employers and professionals in that field.

If you’re looking for a little help with this, a recruitment firm can be a great resource. They can work some magic to ensure you get more eyes on your posting – which translates to more applicants!

 

ALWAYS BE PREPARED

Hooray – your job posting worked and you’ve short-listed some applicants to move to the interview stage, now it’s time to prepare. Yup, just like you’d expect your candidate to prepare for the interview, you need to put the time in to ensure you’re ready as well, so that you can make the most of the time you have with each applicant.

  • First things first, sit down and think about exactly what you’re looking for in your new hire. What kind of skills should the successful candidate have? What type of experience? How much experience? What kind of interpersonal skills should they possess? Are you looking for someone bubbly and light-hearted, or is your office more serious and professional? Once you know what you’re after, it’ll be much easier to recognize when you find it.
  • Review the job description to be sure you’re familiar with the ins and outs of the position and comfortable with your ability to answer any questions the candidate might have for you.
  • Read over the applicant’s resume beforehand – in fact, if you’re up to it, you might want to take a peek at their LinkedIn profile as well. Knowing your candidate’s work history and the specifics of their career path up to this point will allow you to ask more specific, more impactful questions and dig deeper into who they are and where they want to go.
  • Make sure you’ve provided your candidate with all the information they’ll need to get ready for the interview. The time and address is a great place to start, but also be sure to let them know who they’ll be meeting with, how long the interview will be and if there will be any skill-testing involved. If your organization has a dress code, do the candidate a favour and mention it – trust us, they’ll appreciate it.

 

THE QUESTIONS

Okay, down to the meat and potatoes of this whole interview thing: the questions. You’ll want to prepare a handful of standardized questions that you’ll ask each candidate. The point of this is to make it easier for you to compare one candidate to another when you’re reviewing your notes (yes, you’ll be taking notes) at a later date.

  • Start with the easy questions while your candidate gets settled and move on to more challenging questions once they’re comfortable and you’ve developed a bit of a rapport. Some examples of questions to use as a jumping off point could be asking what the candidate knows about your organization or why they’re interested in the role.
  • Since you studied the resume beforehand (right?), you’ll be able to ask your candidate specific questions about their past positions and experiences, what they enjoyed in their previous roles, what they didn’t, why they left, etc.
  • Try and steer-clear of super generic interview questions, as it’s likely you’ll get a “canned answer” – which basically means it’s rehearsed and maybe not totally genuine. A good way to avoid this is to bring up a specific problem your company faces or has faced in the past, and ask the candidate how they’d solve it.
  • Ask open-ended questions and encourage the candidate to expand on their answer. Be sure not to interrupt, allow their response to come to a natural end. If you’re unclear on something they’ve said, be sure to ask them to clarify or to explain in more detail.

 

DURING THE INTERVIEW

The big day is here and you’re all prepared and ready to go. Your candidate arrives (hopefully on time…), and we’re off to the races!

  • It seems obvious, but for goodness sake, introduce yourself – and include your role within the organization if you aren’t the person who the candidate has been communicating with up to this point. Do what you can to break the ice and set the stage for productive conversation. Remember, many – if not most – candidates get nervous about interviews, and a candidate overrun by nerves may not present as well as someone who’s comfortable and relaxed.
  • Go over the job description briefly and ensure the candidate understands what will be expected of them should they be offered the role.
  • Remember how we mentioned taking notes? Take notes! It might seem cumbersome at the time, but you’ll thank yourself when you’re trying to remember important details later.
  • While, yes, you’ll want to verify your candidates hard skills and experience, remember to take note of their interpersonal and communication skills as well – these will help you decide if that person is a good fit with your organization’s culture.
  • You can ask questions ‘til you’re blue in the face, but if you want to really know if a candidate has the skills they claim to on their resume, you might want to consider having them complete supplemental testing, either at your office or at home – whichever you’re more comfortable with.
    • No idea how to go about administering skills testing for candidates? Then you’ll want to pay attention to this shameless plug:
      • At Impact Recruitment, we screen our candidates using the most comprehensive employer-candidate matching system in the market. Seriously, it’s that good. Composed of over 250 individual data points and the most thorough background checks in the industry, we handle every aspect of applicant screening beforehand, so you’ll only meet with candidates who tick all the boxes – skills verified and fully vetted.

 

PRESENTING YOUR ORGANIZATION

Make sure you’ve practiced your sales pitch, because as much as you’re interviewing the candidate, they’re interviewing you, too. You’re there to find out if they’ll be a good fit for your company, and they’re there to find out if your company will be a good fit for them and their career goals. It’s that whole two-way street thing we mentioned earlier, you see?

When you present your organization to a candidate, you’re essentially selling that person on the company, the position, the department, you and your team. If you do this properly, the candidate will come away with a clear picture of what makes your organization such an awesome place to work.

Some points you could touch on include:

  • What makes you different than your competitors
  • Growth and development opportunities you offer
  • Expansion plans
  • Opportunities for a flexible work week
  • Benefits and bonuses
  • Community involvement and other charitable initiatives
  • Fun perks (like free snacks at the office or a rooftop patio to eat lunch on)

 

CLOSING THE INTERVIEW

Well, all good things must come to an end and it’s time to wrap this interview up:

  • Ask the candidate if they have any questions for you.
  • Provide a timeline for them, even if it’s just an estimate. Let the candidate know if you’re still interviewing, when they should expect to hear from you and assure them that they’ll be contacted either way.
  • Walk them out and thank them for their time – we probably don’t have to say this, but make eye contact and be sincere.
  • Review your notes and think honestly about whether you believe the person would be a good fit for the role. If so, why? If not, why not?
  • You said you’d follow up either way, so follow up either way. Not only is it a professional courtesy, it’s also just good branding for your organization. You don’t want to be known as a company that just blows candidates off (whether it’s dating or job hunting, no one likes being ghosted). Show your candidates that you respect their time by contacting those who weren’t selected via email.
  • If things went well – reach out to schedule a second interview or, if things went REALLY well, you may want to start think about putting together an offer letter.

 

Hiring a new employee is time-consuming work. If your HR team is too busy to sort through stacks of resumes, vet (often unqualified) applicants and dedicate hours to interviewing candidates, working with a recruitment firm is a sure-fire way to connect with qualified professionals and ensure that your next hire is the right hire.

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