The interview is used almost universally as part of the employee selection process. Not many of us have ever gotten a job without having gone through one of more interviews. Interviews can be valid and reliable selection tools, but they need to be structured and well organized.
You can be an effective interviewer if you use the following seven suggestions for interviewing job candidates:
- Review the job description and job specification
Be sure that prior to the interview, you have reviewed pertinent information about the job. Why? Because this will provide you with valuable information on which to assess the job candidate. Furthermore, knowing the relevant job requirements will help eliminate interview bias.
- Prepare a structured set of questions you want to ask all job applicants
By having a set of prepared questions, you ensure that you’ll get the information you want. Furthermore, by asking similar questions, you’re able to better compare all candidates’ answers against a common base.
- Before meeting a candidate, review his or her application form and resume
By doing this you’ll be able to create a complete picture of the candidate in terms of what is represented on the resume or application and what the job requires. You can also begin to identify areas to explore during the interview. That is, areas that are not clearly defined on the resume or application but that are essential to the job can become a focal point in your discussion with the candidate.
- Open the interview by putting the applicant at ease and by providing a brief preview of the topics to be discussed
Interviews are stressful for job candidates. Opening the discussion with small talk, such as the weather, can give the candidate time to adjust to the interview setting. By providing a preview of topics to come, you are giving the candidate an agenda. This helps the candidate begin framing what he or she will say in response to your questions.
- Ask you questions and listen carefully to the candidate’s answers
Select follow-up questions that flow naturally from the answers given. Focus on the candidate’s responses as they relate to information you need to ensure that the person meets your job requirements. If you’re still uncertain, use a follow-up question to further probe for information.
- Close the interview by telling the applicant what is going to happen next
Applicants are anxious about the status of your hiring decision. Be up-front with candidates regarding others who will be interviewed and the remaining steps in the hiring process. Let the person know your time frame for making a decision. In addition, tell the applicant how you will notify him or her about your decision.
- Write your evaluation of the applicant while the interview is still fresh in your mind
Don’t wait until the end of the day, after interviewing several people, to write your analysis of each person. Memory can (and often will) fail you! The sooner you write your impressions after an interview, the better chance you have of accurately noting what occurred in the interview and your perceptions of the candidate.