Just as you expect your candidates to know something about you and your firm, it’s important to take the time to learn about the candidate you are interviewing.
- Starting with the cover letter and resume, review previous companies and titles, noting if there is a specific job you want to inquire about during the interview.
- Examine their skill set and ask yourself if the experience lines up with the job requirements.
- Study achievements, projects and volunteer work—consider identifying one or two activities you would like to hear more about in the interview.
- Review the candidate’s LinkedIn page for additional information or insight.
- After your review, prepare specific interview questions for that candidate.
Come Across Professionally
Straightforward communication is key for a successful interview.
- Verify your invitation clearly states whether the interview is online or in-person, provides helpful directions for interview preparation, conveys how long interview will last, includes a list of the names and titles of whom the interviewee will meet, and provides a location address (and information like parking or navigation if helpful).
- Prepare a comfortable environment for the interview. If the interview is online, provide instructions for the video meeting platform you will use. Before the interview, check all your equipment and connections to ensure there are no interview interruptions. Ensure all interview participants from your company are prepared with their technology as well.
- For an in-person interview, reserve a conference room or quiet space free from interruptions. Meet the interviewee at the entrance or ensure the front desk knows of the interviewee’s arrival. Offer the interviewee something to drink upon arrival.
- Put the interviewee at ease by being professional and straightforward, but also personable. It’s important to share information about your company culture, addressing specifics like in-office or work-from-home expectations, compensation and benefits information, dress code, and overall work environment.
Ask Direct Questions, Listen to Responses
We’ve mentioned the importance of drafting specific interview questions pre-interview, but you also want to ensure other team members are prepared with relevant interview questions.
- Confirm all the questions are straightforward so the interviewee quickly understands what is being asked. Once you’ve asked a question, give the interviewee the space to think about the question and formulate a response before you start talking again.
- Take notes during the interview to assist with follow-up questions.
- While it’s important the interviewee understands the position for hire and company culture, avoid going too far in depth about yourself or the company unless it is prompted by an interviewee inquiry; keep in mind your purpose is to learn about the candidate.
- Reserve time at the end of the interview for the interviewee to ask questions of you and your team. You can learn so much about the candidate during this part of the interview.
Sell Your Company
Communicate the company’s mission and values during the interview so the candidate immediately understands what is important to your company and to the employees who work there.
- Be clear about the responsibilities of the position being interviewed for, even questioning the candidate about specific skills the position requires.
- Highlight the company’s vision for the future and how the position the interviewee would fulfill plays a role in executing that vision.
- Emphasize any company policies that would help portray the company in the best possible light for the given candidate.
- Be honest in your description of the position and the company.
Follow Up After Interview
It’s never a good feeling to be ghosted. So, let the candidate know when you anticipate following up about the job and clarify next steps.
- Advise if additional interviews are needed, if the candidate needs to submit follow up materials, or provide references.
- Answer any questions a candidate may have.
- Send an email or call the interviewee if the hiring decision process gets stalled or takes longer than anticipated.
Don’t Criticize Employees or Company
The goal is to be a strong representative of your company.
- Avoid speaking poorly about past or current employees or speaking negatively about company culture or policies.
- Do not make any negative comments about the interviewee’s past or current employers or colleagues.
Don’t Be Dishonest
Answer all interviewee’s questions openly and honestly.
- It’s okay not to know an answer. If you don’t, say so, but offer to seek an answer later and circle back.
- Present your company to the interviewee in a realistic manner—not how you wish the company was or how you envision it may someday be.
Don’t Lay Your Cards on the Table
Although you want to present your company in a positive light and present a full portrait of the available position, be certain to avoid making promises you cannot keep.
- Don’t tell the interviewee information about the position that is only a possibility or sometime down the road.
Don’t Answer the Phone
Your goal is for the candidate to feel important and that their time is valued. Therefore, do not answer your phone during an interview unless it’s a true emergency.