There’s a ton of information out there about how to conduct yourself before, during, and after a job interview, and about 99% of it is geared toward candidates. This is very helpful if you’re looking for advice on how to score yourself a new job. But what if you’re on the other side of the table, looking to score a fantastic new hire?

If you’re new to the hiring game, you may not know quite where to start. If you’ve been recruiting forever, you may have fallen into some habits that no longer serve you. Either way, it’s always good to review best practices for interviewing job candidates.

Here are 7 ways to make the most out of your interview process:

Be prepared

As the interviewer, you hold the primary position of power. But that doesn’t mean you don’t need to do your homework. A great candidate will take the time to learn about your company, industry, and the specific role they aspire to take on. A good interviewer will also show up prepared.

  • Look over all of the applicant’s information carefully beforehand.
  • Compare skills and experience to the job description to see which ones apply.
  • No matter what position you are hiring for, do not simply show up and wing it.

A candidate that senses you are disorganized or phoning it in will extrapolate that behavior to the rest of the organization and set expectations accordingly. Represent your company and yourself in the best possible light. 

Be consistent

Your hiring decisions will come much more easily if you’re comparing apples to apples. Or at least fruit to fruit. If your interview questions aren’t standardized, you won’t be getting good comparative information to help you weigh your options. At least not in a way that makes sense. Likewise, if you’re making assumptions about an individual before they even show up, you’re not allowing for equal footing.

  • Ask the same questions of every applicant.
  • Treat each interviewee equally.
  • Take steps to eliminate hidden bias from your processes.

Having a clear, standardized process makes hiring easier on everyone. The more consistent your processes are, the more fair they will be to your candidates, your current employees, and your hiring committee.

Be honest

There was a time when businesses could afford to be vague and cryptic with their job listings— and still see a pile of applications come in. During the height of the great recession, it was also easy to lowball on salaries or neglect to mention them until it was time to sign on the dotted line. In today’s talent market, this is no longer the case. Job seekers have expectations about salary and benefits, as well as other things like career development, company culture, and flexible schedules. If these things aren’t in alignment with what you’re offering, candidates will move along. Sometimes without even saying a word. Just like a ghost.

  • Make sure the job description is accurate and up to date.
  • Be upfront about compensation and benefits.
  • Sell your organizational culture accurately.

If you’re trying to win great talent by overstating the role, downplaying particular facets of the culture, or portraying a workplace reality that doesn’t exist, your victory will be very short-lived. And your turnover numbers will show it.

Be interested

Think about the interview as a first date scenario. Do you really just want to spend the whole time talking about yourself? If so, is that going to garner any interest from a potential hiring match? Probably not.

  • Don’t use this as an opportunity to sell your candidate on the company or job.
  • Learn about each candidate’s hard and soft skills, as well as their career aspirations.
  • Think about how that person would fit into the role, the department, and the team.

Of course, you want your candidate to be interested in what you have to say. And any new hire worth their salt will feel exactly the same way.

Be quiet

Again, it can be really tempting to talk your way through the entire interview process, especially if you are genuinely excited about the position, the company, and the possibilities.

But communication is a two-way street. If you really want to know about your applicant, you have to listen to what they say.

  • Resist interrupting or interjecting.
  • Listen for content and nuance, look for body language and other non-verbal cues.
  • Never make assumptions about what a candidate means. If you have questions, ask. And then listen carefully to the responses.

Be aware

Don’t make future discrimination claims part of your standard hiring process. Avoid inquiring about candidate traits, beliefs, situations or preferences that are not specifically job related. The following topics are in the discrimination danger zone:

  • Race, national origin
  • Gender
  • Sexual orientation
  • Age
  • Religion
  • Disability
  • Marital status
  • Pregnancy, number of kids

Keep your conversation focused on the company, the position, and any relevant skills and experience necessary to perform.

Be thoughtful

When it comes down to it, every interaction you have is a reflection on you and your company. Are you providing a positive experience or a negative one? What kinds of things will they tell their family, friends after they’ve gone through the process? What might their 10,000 Twitter followers see, hear, and think?

Follow these basic rules to put your best foot forward:

  • Be friendly – Make people feel comfortable.
  • Do what you say – Be on time and keep appointments.
  • Communicate – Let people know where they are in the process and next steps.
  • Follow through – If you say you’ll call or email, make sure it actually happens.
  • Always follow up after an interview or phone screen, no matter what the outcome.

Even if you don’t end up hiring a particular candidate, they should still be considered a potential client, customer, and reviewer. Give your candidates a great experience and they’ll walk away with no regrets. They might even keep you on their short list of coveted employers. Who knows? Next time, they might be a perfect match!

 

Photo by  Kittisak Jirasittichai

 

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