Conducting a job interview is one of the most important steps in the hiring process (especially if you’re attempting to hire your first employee). The success of the interview as a hiring tool partly depends on you, and how prepared you are. Here are some tips to help your interview run smoothly.
Before the Interview
- Write down your questions in advance. (Hint: For best note-taking during the interview, type your questions on a worksheet, leaving plenty of space for your handwriting. You can save the worksheet and print it out to interview other candidates.)
- Base your questions on the knowledge, skills, and abilities required for the job. Use the same interview questions for each candidate, which helps you compare answers and helps eliminate the possibility of bias.
- Strive for open-ended questions to inspire the candidate to provide as much information as possible. Behavioral questions based on past experiences can help predict the candidate’s success in your company. For more information, read our article “Interview Questions: 25 Great Ideas.”
- Determine how many questions a candidate can reasonably answer in a typical 30-60 minute interview. Start with areas that deserve the most attention, such as job history, education, etc., so that you don’t run out of time.
- Make sure your questions don’t fall into the “do not ask” category. For more information, read our article “Hiring Guide: Interview Questions to Avoid.“
- Plan the interview format. Will you be the only interviewer, or should others interview the candidate as well? If you decide to have multiple interviewers, split up the questions according to each person’s area of expertise to avoid redundancy (and a feeling of interrogation).
- Choose a quiet, comfortable setting for the interview. Have coffee, tea, or water available, since the candidate will be (or should be) doing 80% of the talking.
- Study the candidate’s resume in advance.
- Establish rapport with the candidate for a few minutes. Ask casual questions to help the candidate relax and feel comfortable talking about themselves. You can also explain the format of the interview during this time.
- Limit interruptions and distractions. Silence your cell phone and let your calls go to voicemail.
- Keep a clock or a watch handy to keep track of the time.
- Take notes to help you stay focused, record responses that you want to remember, and plan follow-up questions.
- Don’t rush through the questions. Give a candidate 30 seconds or more to formulate a thoughtful answer. Allow for silences.
- Listen carefully and completely to fully evaluate each response. Don’t think about the next question while the candidate is talking. Show you are listening by occasionally restating the candidate’s answer.
- Be polite, smile, and use consistent eye contact, which demonstrates your interest in what they’re saying.
- Invite the candidate to ask you questions about the company or the job. (But give succinct responses — remember, the candidate should be doing most of the talking.)
- As a courtesy to the candidate, try to estimate how soon you expect to decide who will move on to the next step in the hiring process, such as testing. This will give the candidate an idea of when they will hear back from you.
- Close the interview by thanking the candidate for their time.
After the Interview
- When the candidate has left, review your notes. While the interview is still fresh in your mind, add observations about the candidate’s qualifications. Make note of positives and negatives relating to the requirements of the job, which will make it easier for you to compare candidates.
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Updated on June 14, 2013