Step-By-Step Guide On How To Be A Good Interviewer
Interviewing is a crucial part of the hiring process and helps companies make the right recruitment decisions. Successful interviews help improve the team's productivity and enhance the workplace culture by identifying and recruiting the best candidates for the role. Irrespective of whether you have prior experience interviewing candidates or if this is your first-time, knowing the basics of interviewing can help you conduct an efficient interview and choose the right person for the position. In this article, we share a step-by-step guide on how to be a good interviewer and also discuss the characteristic traits of skilled interviewers.
Related: What Are Interviewer Skills? (With Tips And Suggestions)
How to be a good interviewer
You can follow these steps to learn how to be a good interviewer:
1. Prepare for the interview
Skilled interviewers set aside time to prepare for the interview. Preparing in advance helps interviewers build their confidence, gain familiarity with the candidate's profile and the role they are interviewing for, helping them identify the best candidates for the position. Preparing for the interview can also help you better answer the questions the interviewee might ask during the interview. Here are a few ways to prepare for an interview:
Read the candidate's resume and cover letter thoroughly to familiarise yourself with the work experience, qualifications and skills of the candidate. You can also print a copy of the resume for reference during the interview.
Review the candidate's work samples. This is important when you are hiring for creative roles like writers or graphic designers.
Analyse the job description carefully to identify role requirements and responsibilities. This can help you evaluate if the candidate has the right qualifications and skills for the job.
Refresh your knowledge of the company's vision and mission, organisational structure and learn about the benefits and perks of the position you are hiring for.
Related: What Is An Interview Process? Definition And Steps Involved
2. Use a fair evaluation system
Before you interview candidates, it is important to decide the rating system for the interview. An objective, unbiased rating system can help you evaluate candidates using the same metrics, helping you identify the person who is the best choice for the role and the company. Choose a rating system that is consistent and easy to use. For example, you can rate candidates on a scale from one to ten based on their answers to each question. Utilise online forms, spreadsheets or other rating apps and tools to help you automate the scoring process during the interview.
3. Be methodical
Adding structure to your interviews helps you keep the conversation job-related. Prepare an interview outline before you interact with candidates. Include the key points you want to discuss with each candidate and allocate a specific time for each topic. You can consider organising the interviews into different sections like candidate introduction, educational qualifications, professional background and previous work experience, their interest in the role and company and how they utilise their skills to perform the job.
4. Ask the right questions
Make a list of questions that you wish to ask each candidate. Aim to ask the same questions to all interviewees so that you can evaluate them fairly. Tailor the questions to suit the role you are interviewing for and the required qualifications for the job. You can consider asking behavioural or situational questions to help you get a clear idea of the interviewee's soft skills, their personality, professionalism and how they handle workplace challenges. Make sure that you avoid illegal questions that might damage the reputation of the company.
5. Use follow-up questions
Follow-up questions help you gain a well-rounded idea of the candidate's personality and their strengths and weaknesses. You can ask follow-up questions to your interview script to evaluate how a candidate thinks and operates. Listen to the interviewee's responses and frame your follow-up questions based on their answers. Here are a few examples of follow-up questions: "Why did you choose this solution? How did you approach that? What was your biggest obstacle? What would you do differently if you were to do it again? Was your approach successful? Can you elaborate on why you chose this method? "
6. Practise active listening and note-taking
Implementing active listening skills can help you become a more effective interviewer as it allows you to focus on the candidate's answers with no distractions. Listen carefully to the interviewee, nod and make eye-contact and wait until the candidate finishes answering before you ask the next question. Utilise efficient note-taking techniques to record the candidate's answers. For example, instead of recording, the candidate has no previous work experience, you can elaborate by noting it as the candidate mentioned they have not worked on this technology before but have used similar tools.
Related: Active Listening Skills: Definition And Examples
7. Test skills in real-time
Besides asking direct questions, you can also consider evaluating candidates based on how they handle job-specific tasks. For example, if you are interviewing candidates for an SEO analyst role, you can ask them to provide a quick review of a competitor's site and suggest a list of SEO strategies to improve the ranking of that site. You can also role-play specific situations that help you assess the candidate's skill and expertise in navigating challenging situations at work.
Related: Interviewing Skills: Definition And Examples
8. Encourage candidates to ask questions
An interview is a two-way conversation that helps interviewers know more about the candidate and helps interviewees learn about the role and the company. Encourage the candidate to ask questions during or at the end of the interview to clarify their doubts about the position. The questions a candidate asks can help you learn more about their personality and professionalism and decide whether they are a good fit for the role. You can use the following phrases to encourage interviewees to ask questions:
"If you have any questions during the interview, you can interrupt me and ask them."
"Is there anything specific you would like to know about our company?"
"Do you have any questions before we move on to the next step of the hiring process?"
9. Practise your interview techniques
If you are new to interviewing or wish to improve your interviewing skills, you can do mock interviews with friends or colleagues. You take the role of the interviewer, while your friend or colleague assumes the role of the interviewee. Role-playing the interview helps you get more familiar with the process and gain confidence in asking questions. Request your friends for feedback on your interviewing skills. Based on their inputs, you can refine and optimise the interview structure and make it highly relevant to the role.
10. End the interview professionally
Towards the end of the interview, provide the candidate with a clear description of the next steps and the average timeline for the announcement of the interview results. If possible, you can guide the candidate on a brief tour around the office and introduce them to their potential teammates. This provides the candidate with a better idea of the company's work culture and encourages them to accept the role if the company chooses to hire them.
Related: How To Be Professional At Work: A Complete Guide
Characteristics of a good interviewer
Developing the following skills may help you become a better interviewer and add value to the company's hiring process:
Engaging and warm personality: Good interviewers make the candidate feel comfortable and at ease by demonstrating professionalism and a positive attitude. They motivate and encourage candidates to begin the conversation.
Self-awareness: Self-awareness helps interviewers overcome any conscious or unconscious bias that they might have. They display the ability to put aside their personal biases and preferences and hire the best candidate for the position.
Emotional maturity: The best interviewers keep their emotions in check during the interview. They rely on logic and critical-thinking to make the right decisions while evaluating candidates.
Ability to read body language: During an interview, candidates demonstrate their personality via their body language. Being able to understand body language signals can help you gain a deeper understanding of the personality of each candidate.
Flexibility and adaptability: Sometimes the conversation might move away from the pre-planned structure. Good interviewers are flexible enough to change the flow of the conversation and think of the right questions to ask in real-time to know more about the candidate.
Persuasion: Skilled interviewers are adept at selling the perks and benefits of the job and the organisation, motivating the best candidates to accept the hiring offer.
Strong assessment skills: Good interviewers are excellent evaluators who can analyse the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate and make a balanced hiring decision.
Excellent communication skills: Skilled interviewers use the right tone of voice and communication strategies to effectively and efficiently communicate with candidates and learn more about them.
Empathy: Good interviewers are empathetic and take the right steps to relieve the candidate's anxiety and nervousness. They make the candidate comfortable to perform their best during the interview.
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