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How to Have a Good Interview with Job Candidates

Published: April 30, 2015 Author: Clearpoint Tags: Manager's Corner

As a hiring manager, you’re tasked with finding the best possible candidates who will make a great fit for your open positions, as well as your workplace culture. You also have another job during the interview process: maintaining a positive employer brand. By providing a great candidate experience, you can strengthen the image of your organization as an employer, which will attract the right kind of talent — and ultimately make your job easier.

The interview process can be stressful on both sides of the table. These tips will help you conduct thorough, professional, and effective interviews that give you the information you need to make smart hiring decisions, while developing a positive employer brand.

Handling first impressions

Interviewing relaxed candidates can also help to alleviate some of the stress for you. Put candidates at ease by ensuring each candidate is greeted by someone within the company, and escorted to the interview location, if necessary. Have a few low-key questions prepared to help both of you ease into the interview.

While first impressions can be important, try to withhold snap judgment on candidates early in the interview. There are a number of reasons a candidate might make a poor first impression — but you may discover they’re more impressive than they seem once you’ve had a chance to evaluate them more thoroughly.

Making the most of the interview

Of course, you’ll have the interview questions you plan to ask the candidate prepared ahead of time, but there are a few other things you should plan for as well. Keep these strategies in mind as you question candidates:

  • Offer a brief summary of the job: Strong candidates will have prepared for the interview by familiarizing themselves with the position and your company, but it’s still a good idea to open the interview with a short description of the job, in your own words. This gives the candidate the opportunity to ask clarifying questions, and allows them to provide relevant responses and examples that will make your decision easier.
  • Listen more, talk less: If you end up doing most of the talking during the interview, you won’t be able to get enough information from the candidates to learn their true potential, or to distinguish between them. As a general guideline, follow the 80-20 rule: Spend 80 percent of the interview time listening, and 20 percent talking.
  • Be prepared to improvise: Try to view your planned interview questions as more of a suggestion than a rule. Ask the questions you have prepared, but don’t be afraid to strike questions or build new questions from candidate responses. By sticking rigidly to a pre-planned interview script, you could miss out on gathering important information.
  • Take notes: You don’t have to transcribe every word a candidate says, but it’s a good idea to jot down some important points, key achievements, impressive examples, and anything else that will help you remember and evaluate candidates. Consider preparing an interview guide in advance for easier note-taking.
  • Invite questions: Allowing candidates to ask questions will give you the opportunity to learn more about their personalities, their goals, and their motivations to work for you. It’s also a potential red flag if the candidate says they have no questions for you — it could mean they’re not interested in the position itself, but just the paycheck that comes with it.

Closing the interview on a high note

The end of the interview is a good time to both reassure candidates and strengthen your brand as an employer by letting candidates know what to expect from this point. One of the biggest problems many job-seekers have with the interview process is a lack of follow-up, which often results from failure to communicate expectations.

Make it clear what the next steps will be — give candidates an approximate time frame for when you’ll make the final hiring decision, and invite them to keep in touch where appropriate. If a candidate is not a good fit, you should still end the interview on a positive and genuine note.

With a bit of extra preparation, you can make your interview process a smoother and more improved experience for both yourself and your job candidates.

Clearpoint, featuring careers in Houston, prides itself on fostering relationships with job candidates and companies in the staffing industry. Contact us today to find out why we stand out from our competitors.

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