Interviewing Skills: How to Find the Best Candidate

The Importance of the Interview

The interview is the first step in the on-boarding process of new employees. It’s their first real experience of the company. Not only are you interviewing the prospective employee but many times they are interviewing you and the company to determine if they want to work there. Good interviewing skills can mean the difference between hiring an awesome employee or having them move on to another company.

Must-Have Interviewing Skills

  1. Communication Skills

Good communication skills are very useful in many aspects of your life and interviewing is no different. An interview boils down to a conversation between you and the prospective employee. Check out this article to learn how to become an awesome communicator.

  1. Calm Demeanor

During interviews, you should exhibit a calm demeanor. Candidates will often be nervous so your calm demeanor will help put them at ease. This will ensure you get the best interview out of them.

  1. Professionalism

Professionalism is a must during an interview. Not only are you interviewing the candidate but the candidate is also deciding whether they want to work for you and the company. Click the link for more advice on presenting a professional image.

  1. Flexibility

Interviews don’t always go as planned. Be flexible and ready to adapt. You should have a plan and maybe even a script but don’t be afraid to go with the flow of the interview. Sometimes candidates will go more in-depth on something you ask or you may want more information on something they say.

  1. Humility

As the interviewer, you have the power in the situation but that doesn’t mean you should act that way. It’s your job to facilitate the conversation and keep the interview moving. Be respectful and remember that the person you are talking to is a person too. You may have been that person on the other side of the interview and might be again in the future. Treat the people you interview, the same way you want to be treated when you’re on the other side.

Learn how to build these leadership qualities and more here.

Steps of a Good Interview

Image of a candidate, applicant being interviewed.

Interviewing Skills: Preparation

Preparation is extremely important for conducting an awesome interview. These tips will help you get ready for the interview.

Know Your Goals

Think about your goals for hiring. What type of person are you looking for? Is it important for this person to have a personality that fits in with other members of the team? How experienced does the ideal candidate need to be? Do you need to hire a person right away or can you wait for the ideal candidate? Ask yourself these questions and more to understand what you are trying to do in the interviews. 

Learning to use smart goals can be a great way to add more meaning to your goals and increase your chances of success.

Research Candidates

Get to know as much as you can about your prospective employee before you sit down with them. First, you should look over their resume and any other hiring documents. Jot down any notes you may have. I jot down all pertinent information that will help me decide on whether I want to hire this person and many times ask them about it during the interview.

Next, you may want to call references and you can even research companies they previously worked for. I also typically do a LinkedIn and Facebook search to get to know as much as I can about the person. You may think you don’t have time to spend doing this but it only takes about ten minutes to complete. Investing the time to hire the right people for the job will make your job as a manager a lot easier and save you time in the future.

Interview Questions

Image of two woman chatting during an interview. Using interviewing skills to ask interview questions.

Questions are what will keep your interview flowing. There are many different types of questions you can ask prospective employees. You should have a list of questions you want to ask the candidate written out to help the interview flow but flexibility is important here because you can’t be afraid to go a little off-script during the interview. 

Experience-Based Questions

These are questions you ask to learn more about a person’s experience. These are often based on the candidate’s resume or based on the requirements of the position you are hiring. See below for some examples.

  • Tell me what you’ve done in the past that prepared you right for this job.
  • What leadership experience do you have?
  • Tell me about a time when you’ve worked as part of a team.
  • Describe a complex problem you’ve faced at work and how you overcame it.
  • Have you ever had to deal with an unhappy customer? Tell me how you dealt with it.
Hypothetical Interview Questions

These are questions you ask about how a person will handle a certain situation. These are mainly “if” questions. See below for some examples.

  • If you and a coworker had a conflict how would you handle it?
  • If you found out a coworker was doing something unethical what would you do?
  • Let’s say you had a customer that was unhappy how would you deal with it? 
  • If you were tasked with a large project that may require overtime what would you do?
  • If you made a mistake what would you do?
Direct Interview Questions

These are questions you ask a person to get direct answers like yes or no. Direct questions are great for getting specific answers but do not keep the conversation going. Avoid asking a lot of direct questions or the interview will seem more like an interrogation to the interviewee. See below for some examples.

  • Do you mind working overtime when needed?
  • Are you willing to travel when the job requires it?
  • This job requires completing a certification within six months of employment, are you willing to get it done for the job?
  • Have you ever done a job like this before?
  • Are you willing to switch shifts when required?
Personality Interview Questions

These types of questions are useful for getting to know a person. You can gain some useful information on how the person will interact with team members and you as a supervisor. See below for some examples.

  • Why did you leave your last job?
  • What qualities do you have that make you right for this job?
  • What is your biggest flaw?
  • Why do you want this position?
  • What motivates you?

Interviewing Skills: During the Interview

Image of man looking at a resume as he interviews a young lady.

You’ve done the hard part of the interview process and that’s preparing for the interview. When you are prepared the interview becomes a breeze.

Introduction

The first thing you want to do when a candidate walks in is to introduce yourself. Allow them an opportunity to introduce themselves. Shake their hand and ask them to please sit. You want to try to make the candidate feel comfortable. Do this by presenting a friendly but firm attitude. You can even offer the candidate some water or coffee to make them feel more at ease. If you plan on taking notes, which you really should, explain that you will be taking notes during the interview.

Describe the Job

Next, go over the job that they will be performing if hired and talk a little bit about the company. Like I’ve stated before you are not only interviewing the prospective employee, they are deciding if they want to work for you and the company. Give them any pertinent details about the job so they know if it’s somewhere they really want to work. Hiring a highly qualified person that doesn’t want to be there is typically worse than hiring an under-qualified person that does want to be there. 

Interview Questions 

This is a great time to begin asking the applicant the questions you developed in the preparation phase. Try to avoid direct questions and allow the employee to tell you as much about themselves as possible. This phase of the interview should be focused on the candidate and how they feel, or how they would handle certain situations, or what their goals are, etc. This gives you a chance to get to know about them. 

Pro Tip: Don’t be afraid of a little silence. As a matter of fact, if you believe the applicant has more to say or is holding on a subject or question, silence can get them to keep talking or go into more detail. Many times people feel like they need to fill the silence so they will expand on what they were talking about.

Conclusion

When you have gotten the information you need, it’s time to conclude the interview. You should thank the candidate for their time and hopefully, they thank you for yours. Shake their hand again and show them to the door. Tell them you will be in contact shortly about the position.

Interviewing Skills: Post Interview

After the interview, you should go over your notes and make sure you don’t have anything else you want to write down. Once all the interviews are complete it’s time to decide which candidate or candidates you want to hire. Use your notes and their resumes to pick the best ones.

After you select the new employees, you should not only call them to offer them the job but it is also a good idea to call the non-selectees to let them know that another candidate was selected. Don’t keep the non-selectees waiting. Be respectful and encourage them to apply again for future openings if they were decent applicants. You never know when your paths may cross again and they may even end u being a good employee for you in the future.

Tips for Selecting the Best Candidate

  1. Don’t just look for the best candidate. Look for the best candidate for the job. Know what experience and qualities you are looking for in an applicant.
  2. Talk about the candidates with others. This can bring to light information or flaws that you may have missed when you first looked at them.
  3. Avoid pre-selecting prior to the interview. People may look good on paper but when you meet them in person they may not be the right fit. If you pre-select a candidate just because they check all the boxes on paper you may blind yourself during the interview.
  4. Don’t rush. Take a little bit of time and think about the candidates. Not too much time because you want to still have all the information from the interview fresh in your mind. Don’t be afraid to take a night and sleep on it even after you’ve made a selection.
  5. Think about not only the answers to the questions you asked but also what questions they asked you. This can give you some insight into what they are looking for in an employer. 
  6. The most qualified may not always be the person you should hire. You should also take into account how much the person wants the job. This can give a little insight into how hard they will work.
  7. Take into account how a person will fit in with your team and your leadership style. Hiring a person that doesn’t fit can be rough on everyone involved including the new hire. 
  8. Be biased. Don’t necessarily hire the person with the best charisma or the person you got along with the best. Take all the factors into account like experience and work ethic.
  9. If you don’t find the right fit and it’s feasible start the process over, readvertising the job. Hiring the wrong applicant can do more harm than good.
  10. When it’s all said and done reflect on your interviewing and hiring process to see what you did right and what you could have done differently. This can be done immediately after selecting a new employee and after some time has passed to judge how the new employee is performing.

Final Thoughts on Interviewing Skills

Both getting interviewed and interviewing can be intimidating for many but it’s really just a conversation between two people. As long as you take the time to prepare interviews typically go very smoothly. If you follow this guide you should have no problem finding the best candidate for the job.

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Interviewing Skills: How to Find the Best Candidate

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