In the recruitment lifecycle knowing how to interview potential candidates is a fundamental skill to learn. The interview process takes place after you have either shortlisted qualifying candidates who have applied to your applicant tracking system for your roles. Or you have sourced candidates that meet the criteria of the job you are looking to fill.
The objective of the Interview is to determine if the candidate being interviewed meets the specific criteria that the hiring manager is looking for from a technical perspective. As well, the candidate must have the right soft skills for that hiring manager and organization. From an analytics perspective, the difference between average recruiters and advanced experts is their ability to choose the right interviewed candidates.
The average interview lasts 45 minutes. This seems like a short window to really get to know each candidate and decide whether they’re a good fit for the position. But if you’re a skilled interviewer who knows what questions to ask and how to ask them, even 20 minutes are more than enough. Continue reading to find out more about the best practices to follow during the interview process.
How to Interview Someone in 8 Steps
We’ve divided this step-by-step guide into two parts: preparing for the interview and conducting it. The following section gives you an overview of the entire interview process from start to finish.
Prepare to Interview
Step 1: Know What You’re Looking for
Understanding what you’re looking for in a potential candidate is an essential, but often overlooked, aspect of interviewing someone for a job. It’s true that the best applicant tracking systems only shortlist the best matches for the job position. However, as an interviewer, you need to know the requirements the hiring manager you are finding candidates for is looking for in a candidate.
For this step, it is highly recommended that you do a deep intake session with your hiring manager. During the intake session, you need to ask questions about the job, and department and understand what kind of candidate the hiring manager is interested in hiring.
10 common questions to ask the hiring manager during the intake session include:
- What are the important skills a candidate needs for the job?
- What kind of personality would fit best into the department?
- What is the minimum level of years of experience needed for the job?
- What kind of education does the candidate need?
- What is the salary of the job?
- Selling feature of the job/department or company?
- Why is the job open?
- Are there examples of past candidates who were successful in the role?
- Where is the location of the job and can the job be remote?
- What is your hiring process?
Step 2: Know Your Candidate
Do your research on each candidate before the interview begins. You want to know as much as there is to know about them beforehand to conduct an engaging and fruitful interview.
Skimming through the resume right before starting or during the interview doesn’t give you the time to reflect and come up with good questions. We recommend that you study the candidate’s resume, cover letter, and all other supporting documents in detail.
Some of the best recruitment sites like Indeed help you find qualified applicants and verify their abilities easily. Use all this information to take notes to identify interesting points to ask questions. But do not rely on these tools to guarantee a candidate’s skill level.
Additionally, keep all the information you have on the candidate on hand before you go into the interview. This will help you refer to important information in case you miss anything.
Step 3: Decide Interview Structure and Type
Using a consistent interview structure for all candidates helps you level the playing field and run each interview smoothly. In addition, from a compliance perspective ensures all candidates are treated the same way. The typical interview format looks something like this:
- Introduction: Greet and introduce yourself to the candidate. Get to know them.
- Explain the purpose of the interview: You can explain the job and why the candidate was shortlisted.
- Interview questions: This is the main part of the interview where you ask the candidate questions you’ve prepared.
- Candidate’s questions: Ask the candidate if they have any questions about the job position or hiring process
- Thank the candidate and wrap up: Thank the candidate for their time and let them know the next steps and when should they expect to hear back from you.
Apart from the structure, you might also want to choose what type of interview is best for the position you want to fill. While there’s the traditional one-on-one interview, you can also go for a panel interview, presentation interview, or group interview, where you evaluate multiple candidates simultaneously.
Step 4: Prepare Interview Questionnaire
As one of the last steps before you actually start the interview, use your research on the candidate to create an interview questionnaire. Doing this enables you to ask the right questions to make the most of your time with the candidate, and avoid awkward moments in the interview. We’ll discuss the types of questions you can ask in greater depth later.
Once you’ve listed the questions you want to ask the candidate, you’re now ready to conduct the interview. Use a scheduling app to help you organize and let candidates know the date, time, and venue.
Conduct the Interview
With all the homework done, you’re finally ready for action.
Step 5: Choose a Distraction-free Environment
You’re all set and ready to welcome your first interviewee for some questions and answers. But you can’t just call them over if you don’t have a separate office space or interview room. A quiet and distraction-free environment is key to putting your candidates at ease, so both of you can focus on each other.
You may not always have a free room at your disposal to conduct interviews. In that case, consider going virtual. Conducting interviews virtually is a fast and easy way to evaluate candidates without putting extra time and energy into setting up an interview environment. Plus, candidates interviewing from home or current workplace will find it easier to answer your questions confidently.
There’s no dismissing the fact that going virtual can’t match in-person interaction. However, you can maximize communication efficiency with the best video conferencing software. Options like RingCentral and Zoom give you HD voice and video calling functionality so you can conduct professional interviews wherever you are.
Step 6: Put the Interviewee at Ease
This step is as important for you as it is for the interviewee. Going into an interview can be stressful for a candidate if they’re not sure what they’re going to be asked or how they’re going to be evaluated. You can help reduce their stress levels and get the conversation going by explaining the purpose of the interview.
Avoiding hopping into the hard questions straight away. Start off with small talk. Ask them how their trip to the venue was if you’re meeting in person. You could tell them about yourself, your role at the company, and how you’d be moving forward with the interview.
Step 7: Ask Your Questions
Once the prospect is comfortable, you can begin asking them the questions you’ve enlisted. You should provide some context for each question before you ask it. This helps get the candidate’s train of thought going and can elicit better responses.
Don’t just shoot out a question like, “Why do you think you’re a good fit for the job?” To begin with, this isn’t the best question to ask, and if you ask so promptly, you’re likely to unsettle the interviewee. Be subtle about taking notes. You shouldn’t appear as jumping to take a note if you notice something.
Focus on what they’re saying, how well they’re able to communicate, and whether they’re trying to avoid a question. You should be able to recognize their competency for the position from the level of confidence and knowledge in their answers.
Step 8: Conclude the Interview
Once you’ve asked all your questions and have all the important information you need, you can start wrapping up. Remember to ask the candidate if they have any questions. If you feel you left something hanging, now is a good time to address it.
Don’t forget to sell the job before you end. You want to be sure that your ideal candidate looks forward to working with you. Telling them about the perks and opportunities that the position has to offer keeps them interested.
Wrap up the meeting by thanking them for their time. Let them know what they should expect next, and end the interview on a positive note. How your prospective employees feel at the end of the interview speaks a lot about your company’s values and interviewing skills.
The people you interview should ideally have a positive impression of your company and should feel encouraged. Make sure they don’t leave feeling drained and awkward. This can impact your employment brand adversely.
What Questions Should You Ask When Interviewing Someone for a Job?
Asking the right questions lies at the core of a successful recruitment interview process. Rather than asking closed-ended questions, focus on asking open-ended ones to get your interviewee to speak more. Let’s discover the different types of interview questions.
Types of Interview Questions
There are a few different types of questions you can ask. These include:
- Behavioral questions: This is a broad question topic that helps you gauge how the candidate would behave in different situations. You can ask the interviewee almost anything about their behavior in professional settings in the past. You can present them with specific situations and ask what they’d do.
- Situational questions: Also known as hypothetical questions, these are a lot like behavioral questions. Just that you come up with unique scenarios and ask the prospect what they’d do if they were in it.
- Fact-based questions: These questions are aimed at checking the prospect’s knowledge on a particular topic. Be sure to ask fact-based questions.
- Skill-based questions: Skill-based questions focus more on the candidate’s job performance rather than their behavior. These questions let you determine whether an applicant has the technical and problem-solving skills for the position.
- Opinion questions: There’s no right or wrong answer to these questions. Interviewers usually ask these questions to gain insight into the applicant’s thought process and decision-making ability.
- General questions: General questions are aimed at getting to know the applicant. You can ask applicants about their hobbies, goals, where they see themselves a few years from now, what kind of management style works best for them, and so on.
While all these are types of questions you can ask, interviewers need to stay well clear of some types of questions that you’re not allowed to ask.
How to Interview Someone – Questions You’re Not Allowed to Ask
Here are the topics you should avoid during an interview. Asking about these can damage your company’s image and land you in legal trouble.
- Applicant’s age or genetic information
- Birthplace, country of origin, or citizenship
- Gender, sexual orientation
- Marital status, family, or pregnancy
- Race, color, or ethnicity
How to Interview Someone – Do’s and Don’ts
Learning how to interview someone professionally takes time and practice. However, you can use this simple do and don’t list to make sure you’re doing everything right and staying clear of the no-go areas.
Prepare before the interview starts. Do your research on the candidate and have your questions ready
Display bias of any kind
Put the candidate at ease. Ask them if they’re comfortable. Initiate small talk to get them settled in
Unsettle the candidate with difficult questions
Listen more, talk less
Talk about controversial or sensitive topics
Ask open-ended questions
Ask close-ended questions
Take notes subtly
Distract candidates with your typing or note-taking
Sell the job
Give the candidates reasons not to be interested in the job
Let the candidate ask you questions at the end of the interview
Give no time for the candidates to ask questions
Thank the applicant for their time
Be unpersonal and abrupt at the end of the interview
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for How to Interview Someone
Here are some common questions new employers ask about interviewing applicants for a job.
Bottom Line on How to Interview Someone
The interview process is an important part of recruitment, and it is as technical as it is important. As an interviewer, you must do your fair share of homework to evaluate applicants accurately. Remember to keep things easy and relaxed and ask the right questions for the best results.