Tips to Become a Better Interviewer

shutterstock_229608994Written By: Leanne Zabriskie, Product Center of Excellence Manager, Recruiting 

Are you a good interviewer?  Are you using all of the tools available to you?  What could you do to improve your interviewing skills and get better information from your candidates?

I work with many, many recruiting professionals and hiring managers, and all of us think we are great interviewers.  I’ve found that most of us could still improve a bit!  Many of the suggestions I have aren’t around the questions you may be asking, but around the structure of the interview.

First of all, remember that you want the candidate to get comfortable enough with you to open up about his or her experience and interests.  I see many assessors who take pride in putting candidates through torture, but I have never understood how that benefits either side.  You may learn that the candidate is great under pressure, but you won’t find out about the creative solutions they’ve had to past problems.  Instead, make sure you set the stage properly.

  • Let the candidate know what to expect.  Make sure to mention things like dress code, how long the interviews will take, and how many people the candidate will be meeting.

During the interview, take control and explain what you want out of the conversation.

  • “Give me the details about what you did, and be specific.  If you worked with a team, explain what your role was, not what the team did overall.  Walk me through the entire situation step by step.”
  • At the beginning of the interview, state how you want it to go.  “If I feel we are getting off track, is it okay if I interrupt and redirect the conversation?”  Then do it!
  • Probe.  Talk about one subject for 10-15 minutes.  Don’t just ask one question, get one answer, and move on.  You need more depth than that.

Stop talking.  Yes, you need to explain the company and position, so you are certainly going to do your share of talking, but remember that you are here to learn about the candidate.

  • To learn about the candidate’s experience and qualifications, you’ve got to let the candidate talk.
  • When you ask questions, let the candidate take a minute to think of a good response.  You aren’t making a good assessment if the only thing you are judging is the candidate’s ability to think on his or her feet.

Finally, think about the tools you are using to interview.  Video and remote interviewing are great options that many companies aren’t using today.  If employees frequently conduct meetings remotely, this may be an excellent assessment tool.  Consider whether these might make things easier for both you and your candidates.

  • Video interviewing is a recorded interview where the candidate answers set questions on camera and you (or anyone else) can view the recording at your convenience.
  • Remote interviewing is when you use a tool for video conferencing (like Skype) to interview a candidate.  This allows you to have a real-time conversation, face-to-face, without the scheduling difficulties and expense of on-site interviews.
  • With either of these methods, make sure to let the candidate know what to expect.  For example, I would let a candidate know that business casual or casual attire is fine.  I don’t expect a suit and tie for 30 minutes in front of a webcam.

What other tips do you have?  Tweet your ideas to @LeanneAtAasonn!